Page 4-The Michigan Daily-Sports Monday-- April 1
Webber nothing but a
winner off of the court
Perhaps the most traumatic week of Chris Webber's life has finished its
uplifting, devastating, up-and-down, limits-of-imagination-crashing run.
Beginning two Saturdays ago, when his Wolverines upended Kentucky and
ending Friday, the day after he appeared on ESPN's "Up Close," a most re-
markable seven days have run their unforgettable course.
Instead of nine days into the past, it seems like Michigan's victory over
Kentucky's Wildcats took place weeks ago, doesn't it? Webber's spin
moves, reverses and rebounds against Kentucky are more like distant
memories than things we might still be hashing over.
Mercy, Chris was something against Kentucky, wasn't he?
Michigan played Kentucky?
A simple gesture he performed one week ago in the NCAA title game is
the cause of this memory hyper-fade. And even that game - Jimmy King's
dunk, Donald Williams' barrage of three-pointers, etc. - has somewhat
yellowed in the news clippings of our minds.
And that is because in the days following, Webber has done more to
impress the public than he did to stun it seven days ago.
I was in the press conference room under the Superdome stands follow-
ing North Carolina's victory. I watched the mediator line up the placards for
each of the conference's participants. NCAA procedure is for the losers to
speak before the winners, and as he placed Webber's nameplate on the
podium - the interviewees are chosen before the game - I wondered.
Would he show up? Would he answer questions about the time-out?
Why would he bother?
After a short while, after Juwan Howard quietly made his way onto the
podium, Webber did appear in front of the media with Steve Fisher. After
the Michigan coach made a short opening statement, the floor was opened
for player questions, and the longest press session of Webber's life began.
Chris, could you tell us what happened?
Chris, did someone tell you to call time-out?
Chris, is this worse than last year?
Had he been in a dark room with a flashlight in his face, it could not
have been worse.
And yet, he did not run and hide. He did not say, "No comment." He did
not field the first question, announce, "That's all I have to say right now,"
and walk off. He did not take swipes at the questioners, or make excuses, or
pass the blame around.
He showed up, he quietly answered each question, he did not leave
abruptly and he did not take swipes, make excuses, or pass the blame.
"I probably cost our team the game," he recited, again and again.
It was too much for Howard to take.
"All these questions being asked, it's stupid," he said. "The questions
being asked over and over."
by Ken Davidoff
Andy De Korte
and Adam Miller
Daily Basketball Writers
Your heart was broken when
CBS announcer Jim Nantz an-
nounced with seeming glee "The
Fab Five comes up short again" at
the buzzer last Monday? Never fear
- we of the Daily men's basketball
beat are here to lift your spirits. Pre-
senting the official list of the best
and worst of the past season in
Michigan men's hoops.
Best: The McKale Center, Tuc-
son, Ariz. University of Arizona
sports info claims this only seats
13,800 spectators, but mark our
word, it's HUGE. Further, there is a
large-screen projection screen in ev-
ery corner of the arena - with both
live action and instant replay - and
immense scoreboards display full
statistics at each end of the arena.
Plenty of on-site parking is also a
plus, as is the location - southern
Michigan State's Breslin Center
also scores high, being a veritable
statement of luxury and modernity
with sky-boxes for the boosters and
computer statistical displays for the
press. Some say it rivals the Palace
of Auburn Hills for amenities.
Worst: Neal Blaisdell Center
Arena, Honolulu. The plus: it's in
Hawaii, and has its own waterfall
and moat. The negatives: just about
everything else. A small enclave
seating less than 8,500, the
Blaisdell's press row is much too
short, which required multiple "aux-
iliary" press tables at the Rainbow
The locker rooms are no more
than a bench and a row of shower
heads - you should have seen the
Wolverines crammed in there. And
the press room isn't even in the same
building: it's across an outdoor
walkway in another part of the Cen-
ter complex. Ordinarily, this is fine,
but it was pouring the night of the
finals between Michigan and Kansas
and one had to make a mad dash af-
ter the game to avoid getting soaked
on the way to the press conference.
You would think that since the
Classic has been in Honolulu for
over 30 years, the Rainbows would
find a more hospitable site.
But, as we said, it is in Hawaii.
So it can't be that bad, can it?
On the mainland front, Indiana's
Assembly Hall easily ranked as the
most disappointing site of the sea-
son. You'd figure that with the tradi-
tion behind both Bob Knight's
Hoosiers and the entire state of Indi-
ana, the General's compound would
be a palace. But not to be. It's old,
dank, and worst of all, boring. What
kind of venue is this for one of the
nation's finest squads year in and
year out to display its talents?
And we won't even mention the
fact that there was no food - that's
right, nada - for us important media
Best: Southern-Baton Rouge.
The NCAA tournament has never
seen a show like this before (it was
Southern's first tourney appearance).
We know whence New Orleans'
Neville Brothers sang in the song
"Fire on the Bayou" - they were
referring to this bunch. A Cajun in-
fluenced ensemble that not only
played such classic party tunes as
"Hot! Hot! Hot!" but danced as well,
the Southern band received loud
ovations, including standing O's,
after each performance.
Worst: Iowa State. Totally unin-
spiring, and they had to play against
the second best band in Tucson -
UCLA - which not only played the
20th Century Fox theme before
fans, but as the Cameron Crazies
themselves would chant,
"Scoreboard! Scoreboard!" We
would have to write an entire book
about them to give them their due
justice, but suffice it to say that
while Coach K's dynasty may have
been stopped this year, the Crazies'
Worst: Michigan State. Easy
pick - they were lewd, crude and
applications are now availab
Student Activity Building
fers to Columbus.
Best: For those of you
enough to get a floor pass,
beats standing in the tun
Crisler Arena as a big game
down. At the end of regula
Michigan's home game
Michigan State (won in ov
the Wolverines, 87-81), o
practically feel the power
Crisler students, thundering o
ruses of 'The Victors' ash
low pompons swayed in utii
your blood bleeds Maize
you couldn't have asked for
Worst: The upper deck
Louisiana Superdome as
Heels celebrated their vi
vantage point for the g
enough - 300 feet away
imagine being trapped in th
deck as the North Carolina s
as the Tar Heels cut the netsd
Of course, had Michiga
you probably would have 'i
view just fine from up there.
Best: We'll start at the s
ral level with the NCAA
ment. Free gifts such as not
coasters and bags. Food tha
please even the most strict e
mands. And constant steward
badgering with simple, "Is th
way we can make your expe
more enjoyable one?" i
Let's face it, those NC
might be anal ninnies, but th
know how to throw a party.
Special mention hasO
Duke. As we arrived at the
lounge, we helped ourselves
copy of Coach K's book, 20
for pedestrians. Then we be
eat. Caesar salad, garlic'
lasagna. At halftime, a larg
and cookies. It's a tribute -so
the expansive capacity of th
age reporter's belly that we
conscious to conduct post
And of course, we woul
been let down if the Rainb
sic hadn't distributed leis t
scribe who made the trip.
Worst: Hands down, In
Even a token rice cake wal
been a nice gesture. But it w
Best: The play-by-pI
scriber at Tucson's Mc
ter is unique. An original. A o
kind. No one else can inject ~
he does into the official
Example: when center Eric
was called for charging
Coastal Carolina game, the
said he "knocked down the
cades." Or how about this
traveling call on a Chantic
player "danced through th
Finally, we would be remis
did not mention the page hea'
the transcript. One said, "
nothing like typing with
in your keys." Another, fr
Jackson State-Southern ga
formed the media that "The S
band is also available for bi
No one can figure out how.
enough time to improvis
- there should just bar
enough time to record a play's
and move on to the next.
We couldn't decide if th
was a closet Chris Berman
A hearty second-place goe
statistical staff at the Ra
Classic. No one can turn
much paper as they do.
every two minutes, run
passing out "flash-stats"-
summaries meant for radio
vision - partial game transcr
box scores. It's rumored thati
peace is investigating them fo
Worst: The transcriber
Palace of Auburn Hills. Co
while you don't have to type
ratives the Tucson scorer
one said you must type i
Chris Webber, shown here misbehaving with teammate Jimmy King,
predicted his team's Rainbow Classic victory and return to the Final Four
warmups (a nice touch) but led the
Bruin fans in the famed "U-C-L-A"
cheer throughout the game.
The Cyclone bunch should have
stayed home in Ames.
Best: For aesthetics alone, this
has to go to Chris Webber's 360
game-ender against Minnesota at
Crisler. He had the ball, an open
court and about two seconds to im-
provise, and he turned in an Oscar-
caliber performance. One to tell your
When you're talking about dunks
that influence a game, nothing com-
pared to Jalen Rose's streaking al-
ley-oop to Jimmy King to seal the
victory against Temple in the NCAA
quarterfinals. How big was this?
Rose said it helped make the game
"fun again" for the Wolverines. And
it made it onto CBS pre-game mon-
tage in Final Four coverage.
Worst: Any missed dunk. Take
your pick, they're all embarrassing.
Best: This one's a no-brainer.
Sure, the Wolverines said they
weren't intimidated by the Duke
1 EVANPE RIEily
Chris Webber has been brave in dealing with his error vs. North Carolina.
The scene - Webber patiently and honestly answering questions which
contained a wasp's sting - could not have been more ironic. For it was the
same group of reporters who were asking the questions who had spent the
previous week painting Webber and his teammates as nasty, arrogant, im-
mature toughs who were a disgrace to college basketball.
And now, here was Webber, conducting himself with all the poise and
honor you could ask of someone who minutes ago had seen a lifelong dream
crash and burn in his own hands.
Could you do that? I'm not sure I could. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.
It is a testament to his maturity that while only a college sophomore, he
understands that athletes twice his age refuse to learn. As Webber is wont to
say, "You guys have a job to do. I know that."
So that was Monday.
Tuesday, the event was the Wolverines' reception at Crisler Arena. Still
sullen, and perhaps dazed, Webber sat on stage with a blank stare and a
strong desire to not say much to those in attendance. Who could blame him?
But he did get up to speak, and a two-minute standing ovation later, he
was finally flashing his toothy grin, a relief to us all.
Wednesday, he and Fisher jetted out to Los Angeles for the presentation
of the Wooden Award, given to the nation's best collegiate player. A final-
ist, Webber must have been pretty sure he would not win, as Indiana's
Calbert Cheaney - who himself was a no-show, as were several other
finalists - had won a similar honor from the Associated Press the Friday
before the Final Four.
But Webber showed up anyway, saying he had too much respect for'
John Wooden, UCLA's former coach, to skip it. And, like Monday, he did
not hole himself up away from the public, but spent his time with the press
and fans -- press members who asked a zillion time-out questions and fans,
some of who found signaling for time-out in his face terribly clever.
By the time Thursday and "Up Close" rolled around, it was as though we
thanaht nothinro nf Wehr beino nn the nrnmram H hehad been evervwhere
obscene for a second year in a row,
and got condemned by the Presi-
dents of both schools. Get a life,
Best: Michigan 81, Kentucky 78
(OT) in the national semifinals. Ev-
eryone had written the Wolverines
off the week before this contest as
sluggish, under-achieving, and un-
able to defend Kentucky's heralded
three-point barrage of a motion of-
But Michigan came out and
played perhaps its best defensive
game of the past two years. Rose and
Jimmy King shut down Wildcat
point-guard Travis Ford, and while
Jamal Mashburn was a monster for
most of the game, he fouled out with
five minutes left in overtime. After
Chris Webber blocked Kentucky's
final inbound attempt, the Wolver-
ines danced their way to the finals
while the "Cream Team" went
Second place goes to Michigan
79, North Carolina 78 in the Rain-
bow Classic semis. A game that fea-
tured The Pass - Rose's lob to a re-
verse-dunking Webber with under a
minute left - and The Putback -
Rose's putback in the lane at the
buzzer - has to score highly.
Worst: (at) Iowa 88, Michigan
80, January 31. In the Hawkeyes'
first home game after the death of
Chris Street, it was the Wolverines
who went moribund in the second
half. All of Iowa celebrated this one,
while Michigan started to seal its
fate as the No. 2 team in the Big
If you weren't fortunate enough
to catch that one, perhaps you saw.
the Valentine's Day Massacre, (at)
Indiana 93, Michigan 92. The
Wolverines were dominating the
Hoosiers on their own court when
they decided to even the odds a little
and play some of their worst basket-
The Top 5 moments in Michigan basketball this
1. Chris Webber tips the Kentucky inbound as
time expires in overtime, sending Michigan to the
NCAA tournament finals with an 81-78 victory.
2. Jalen Rose leaps over North Caolina center
Eric Montross and puts back an errant Jimmy King
shot at the buzzer, giving the Wolverines a 79-78
victory in the Rainbow Classic semifinals.
3. King puts back a Rose miss with three
seconds left in overtime of Michigan's second round
NCAA game against UCLA. After some discussion
by the officials, the shot counts and Michigan
advances to the Sweet 16.
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