The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 1, 1993 - Page 9 s
'M' newcomers enjoying the ride to Final Four
Forfreshmen Derricks, Fife, walk-on Dobbins , NCAA tournament run 'something you dream of'
by Ken Sugiura
Daily Basketball Writer
A year removed from their status
as media darlings, the members of
the Michigan basketball team return
to the Final Four as weary veterans
of NCAA tournament hype.
While last year they were going
full-bore at their opponents, now the
Wolverines struggle to play "forty
minutes of Michigan basketball."
While press conferences last
season were an opportunity to smile,
laugh and play "Whose statements
can shock the media the most?" this
tournament finds Michigan's players
sporting facial expressions more
blank than Odie's from "Garfield."
Even in the media session follow-
ing the Temple contest last Sunday,
Chris Webber and Juwan Howard
looked as though they were in more
need of a nap rather than directions
to the Superdome.
It all points to the fact that for the
Wolverines, this is all old hat..
Make that for most of the
For while most of Steve Fisher's
club will make return trips to the Fi-
nal Four, New Orleans will be a
maiden voyage to the national semi-
finals for three of Fisher's players.
Senior walk-on Sean Dobbins
and freshmen Dugan Fife and Leon
Derricks are all experiencing the
NCAA tournament first-hand for the
first time, and well, they can answer
for themselves what sort of ex-
perience it has been.
"It's a good experience, even
though I'm not playing," Derricks
"It's a great experience," Fife
said. "It's great basketball, and I feel
a part of it."
"It's been a great experience so
far," Dobbins said. "It's something
that you dream of - going to the
To be accurate, Dobbins actually
has been to the Final Four before.
The Wilmette, Ill., native, who had
played the two years prior to last
season (but was left off the traveling
squad), was bumped from the roster
due to a 16-deep lineup. So last sea-
son, when Michigan made its run to
Minneapolis, Dobbins was a part of
it - sort of.
"Iast year this time, I was proba-
bly driving to Minneapolis 'cause I
went there just to watch," he said.
And what of Derricks and Fife?
"I had just gotten knocked out of
the (Michigan high school Class A)
semifinals against Benton Harbor
and I was watching them on TV,"
Ever the gym rat, Fife, whose
Clarkston team was eliminated ear-
lier by Derricks' Flint Northwestern
club, had not quite put away the
"I was playing AAU basketball,"
A year later, each finds himself
playing his own role for Michigan.
None have played since the Coastal
Carolina blowout in the first round,
so they have had to find other ways
to make themselves useful, as they
have most of the season.
One way that Fife said he par-
ticularly relishes is playing on the
scout team which prepares the star-
ters by simulating the play of the
"We end up knowing the other
team's plays as well as they do. We
go against the first team and we also
get to play our games," he said.
"Let's say I'm the other team's
scorer. I get to shoot just like in high
In preparation for Kentucky, Fife
said he will perform the role of point
guard Travis Ford.
"I'm gonna like playing Ford,
'cause all he does is shoot threes,"
Dobbins also mentioned his role
on the scout team as one of the ways
in which he can help the cause.
"In practice, just working on
Kentucky's press, we'll put six peo-
ple, seven people, just so that we're
ready for the press," he said. "That's
the way I'll contribute. In the games,
I'll try to keep everyone enthusiastic
The Wolverine veterans have not
failed to notice the newcomers' re-
freshing attitudes. Team sages Rob
Pelinka and James Voskuil were
freshmen when Fisher led Michigan
to the national title in 1989, a situ-
ation similar to the experience now.
"I think that the excitement that
emits from their character flows into
the other guys," Pelinka said. "When
we see that, we notice it, and it helps
us get excited."
"They still get fired up for prac-
tice, because they're practicing
against guys that might be national
champs," Voskuil said. "And so, any
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little thing they do, you can see
themselves getting pumped up and
ready to go. Dugan may shoot one,
or 'Dobbs' may throw a spin move
on somebody to get to the hole, and
all of the sudden he's more inspired
than anybody for the next week.
"I think they get real excited at
this time, just like everybody does,"
he continued. "Maybe more so than
the rest of us."
But for all of the energy the
threesome might inject into their
team, each is also storing up memo-
ries and lessons for years to come.
"It helps me learn what I have to
do to next year to help the team get
back here again," Derricks said.
"I'm learning the physical aspect of
the game and the mental approach.
What to do when I'm on the court,
to stay calm and not get hyper."
And what has been the highlight
"Probably the games, and the ex-
perience," he said. "Staying in the
hotels, seeing places I haven't seen."
During his free time in Seattle
last weekend, Fife went out in
search of the grunge music scene,
but he returned home grungeless.
"I mean, I was in downtown
Seattle, and I couldn't find it," he
For Dobbins, his mental scrap-
book has already been filled in Tus-
con, Ariz., site of the Coastal Car-
olina game. A week after Dobbins'
hide-and-seek play was foiled by
Northwestern, Fisher sprung it on
"I would have to say probably
scoring in the first tournament game
(is my favorite memory)," he said.
"Just knowing I'll have scored in the
NCAA tournament is something I'l
A year ago, Dobbins was in Min-
neapolis, cheering on his past and
future teammates. Now, he is part of
the Big Dance, on the Superdome
floor, practicing and preparing for
"It's a totally different feeling
this year," he said. "It's unbeliev-
able. It's so good being on the other
we are seeking representatives
from all student organizations, a
lot more students, and maybe
even Shakey Jake to make next fall's
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and ,hey ,we startAT
University Activities Center
Freshman guard Dugan Fife (right) joins Leon Derricks and Sean Dobbins as Wolverines making their first trip to the
Final Four. The threesome will try to contribute to a Michigan victory in Saturday's semifinal against Kentucky.