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January 24, 1994 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-24

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, January 24, 1994 - 3



The R.H. Factor


The Dream Team II member
discusses his stellar basketball career

After a standout career at Central
Michigan, where he was the Midwest-
ernAthletic Conference's Playerofthe
Year three times, Dan Majerle has
gone on to become one of the NBA's
elite as a member of the Phoenix Suns.
Included on his extensive resume is
a starring role on the bronze-medal
*winning 1988 U.S. Olympic basketball
team, All-Star appearances in the last
two seasons, a record-setting three-
pointbarrage in Game 3oflastseason's
NBA Finals and a recent selection to
Dream Team II, which will compete
this summer at the World Champion-
ships in Toronto.
Recently, Daily Sports Writer Tim
Smith spoke with Majerle about his
Daily: The Suns are off to another
good start, but the Seattle Superson-
ic, look unbeatable. How do you see
the Suns doing in the Pacific Division
race for the rest of the season?
Majerle: It's still real early in the
year, and the season's not even close
to being done yet. We're right behind
them right now, only like three games
behind, so it's a long way to go and we
,feel confident that we'll be there at
the end.
D: What do the Suns need to do to
improve this year?
M: I think we need to stay healthy.
Charles ;(Barkley) is hurt, Kevin
(Johnson) is hurt right now. We have
the personnel to be a very good team.
If we stay healthy and we're playing
ourbest basketball, I think we have a
good chance to win it.
D: Has the team felt the loss of
first-year sensation Richard Dumas,
who was suspended for this season
because of drug use?
M: It hasn't had any impact at all.
He was a good guy for us, but we've
got guys like Cedric (Ceballos), and
A.C. Green's filled in well for him.
He wasn't a guy we needed as far as
making us real successful.
0 D: What has A.C. Green brought
to the team this year?
M: A.C. gives us another guy who
can rebound, score in the post, play
good defense, and he gives us a guy
who has won a championship, which
I think is very important mentally to
our team.
D: Do you think the lack of expe-
rience on last year's team was the
reason you lost to the Chicago Bulls
min the NBA Finals?
M: No, I don't think it was that big
ofa'factor. I think Chicago was good;
I thought we were a better team. We
just didn't play up to our expecta-
tions, especially there at home.
I think we'll be better this year for
that; but I can't really say it's because
of'ekperience. I just think that Chicago
played better.
* D: What were you thinking when
the Bulls' John Paxson's NBA-title
clinching 3-pointer was in the air?
M: I knew it was good. The last
thing we said in the time-out was not to
let him get off the three. If anything,
we'll go into overtime.
We kind of got screwed up in cov-
erage and left him out there wide open.
He was too good of a shooter in that
*situation to leave alone.
D: The entire playoffs were not a
smooth ride for you or the Suns. What
turned the team around when you
were down to the Lakers two games to
none and heading to the Great Western
Forum during the first round of the

M: Well, we knew coming into
the first-round series that it would be
tough. It's one of those things where
*you go out there and play hard, but
you can't get over the hump. After the
first-two games, a lot of people wrote
us off, but we knew we could come
back because we had been such -a
good road team all year.
We hadn't lost to Los Angeles in
Los Angeles all year. Even though a
lot of the fans and all of the media
were writing us off, we knew we
*could win two games and bring it back
to Phoenix. We were a little worried

obviously, but we thought we could
bring it back.
D: Let's talk a little about the man
who was most instrumental in your
reaching the Finals - Charles
Barkley. What were your initial feel-
ings when you found out the Suns got
Barkley in a trade with the Sixers in
M: I was happy, because I knew
we needed another player. We had
good teams before that, but we were
just one player shy of taking it all the
way, I thought. I knew Charles would
be a guy who could really make us
better, because he can score in the low
post and is somebody who can post up,
so I was real happy.
D: It must be
some compliment
when Barkley says
that you're the
only guy in the '
league as tough as
him out on the
court. Do you
agree with him
when he says this?'
M: I think it's "
true, but I think
there are a lot of
people as tough as
Charles. I mean
it's something that
Charles just likes N
to say. I think I'm
just as intense and
want to play and
win as much as he
does, and that's all
you really need to
do. That's just the
way I've always ;
done it when I play
D: Coming
from relatively un-
known Central .
Michigan, do you <'
and hustle were at-
tributes that made
you stand out and
helped you make
the Olympic team
and later the NBA?
M: I think so. I
think my desire to
win and playing n
100 percent every '
time makes me
D: Does your
nickname "Thun-
der" have to do
with the way you Dan Majerle belie
play? Division rival Seal
M: I'm not possibly win the t
sure. A guy at the
newspaper at Cen-
tral Michigan made it up. We had an-
other guy named "Lightning." So it
was a kind of a "Thunder-Lightning"
D: Why did you choose Central
M: I really wasn't recruited by
any of the Big Ten schools. I nar-
rowed it down to Western (Michi-
gan), Toledo, and Central Michigan.
The main reason I went to Central
Michigan was because it was so close
to my home.
My parents and friends would be
able to see me play. That was a good
school for me. The Mid-American
Conference seemed like a good place
to be, and Central Michigan seemed
like a good school.

D: When you were invited to the
1988 Olympic tryouts, what chance
did you think had of making the team?
M: I had no idea. I was probably
one of the last guys invited. Nobody
knew who I was. I just went in there
trying to make a name for myself, and
do the best I could and just play hard.
As the cuts progressed, and I kept
on making the cut, I figured there was
a good chance I could make it then. I
made it.
I went in there not really having any
kind of goal. My goal was to make the
first cut and to continue to play hard

and make it as far as I could.
D: Did thehigh-profileplayers such
as David Robinson, J.R. Reid and
Danny Manning respect you even
though they didn't really know who
you were?
M: I think they respected me after
they saw me play. You gain respect by
what you do on the court, not by what
the papers say or what everybody hears.
When you get on the court with another
guy, the way you respect him is by
seeing what he can do.
D: How did you like playing un-
der John Thompson in the Olympics?
M: I loved it. He was a great
coach. He was my kind of coach. He
demanded that you played hard all the

be a lot of fun.
D: What was it like for you to play
in your first All-Star game in 1991-92?
M: That was a great feeling. I've
dreamed of playing in the NBA, but I
never even thought of being an All-
Star. I was just happy enough to make
it in the league. When I was chosen
for the All-Star game, it just capped
off a great career so far. That was one
of the high points of my career.
D: You've had the opportunity to
play with many All-Stars, and one
All-Star, Michael Jordan, was a hand-
ful for you in last year's NBA Finals.
Were you glad to see him retire?
M: Well, I think going in, he's a
handful for everybody. Nobody does
stop him from scor-
ing so we just had
to concentrate on
the other guys
knowing that Jor-
dan wasgoingtoget
his points. You've
got to live with that.
D: What im-
pact has the loss of
Michael Jordan,
Reggie Lewis and
Drazen Petrovic -
three of the best off
guards in the
league - had 'on
the competition in
". s the NBA?
M: Obviously
there's a little
dropoff when you
lose Michael, but
there's so many
C good players in this
league that you
face somebody
good every night.
Reggie Lewis
and Drazen have
hurt their teams by
s ;not being there, but
every night you
play against some-
body and they're
all good. Those
guys were some of
the best players in
the league, but
there's always
somebody ready to
step up and fill in
their shoes.
MD: Whatdo you
think of Jordan's
plan to try out for
the Chicago White
t start by Pacific M: It's going to
inals and be tough. That's a
game where you
have to play a lot.
You have to grow
up playing it. From what I've read, he
hasn't even played in high school or
He played Little League or what-
ever, and he's going to step up and
play against guys who are throwing
90 mile-per-hour fastballs, curves and
sliders. I think he's going to wake up
real quick. As far as I see, it's going to
be a whole different ballgame.
D: What do you see in your basket-
ball future and after your career is
M: Ijust want to play for as long as
I can as long as I keep having fun and
I stay injury-free. Obviously, I want to
win a championship because I'm on a
great team. If I can do that I'll be very
happy, and if I don't I'll be happy.
That's a goal of mine - to win a

championship. Hopefully, ifeverything
works out, I'll stay in Phoenix. Who
knows, maybe I'll get into broadcast-
ing or maybe I'll get into coaching.
Hopefully I'll get in a situation
where I don't have to do anything, but
if I want to I can do some coaching or

'M' provides many
challenges for Belkin
While this combination is not as traditional in sports vernacular as
"pick and roll" or "hit and run," for Debra Belkin the two will be
forever frozen in her memory.
For it was during the past three weeks, as southeastern Michigan braved
the coldest temperatures it has seen in recorded history, that Michigan's first-
ever women's varsity soccer coach was unceremoniously welcomed to her
new home.
"The first day, I was all excited," said Belkin last week in her semi-barren
office on State Street, adorned with but a few mementos of her past glories. "I
had to get in the office. I was going to start my first day.
"I was pretty relieved that my stuff was delivered to my apartment nice
and early in the morning. I go to get to my car and my doors were frozen
shut. I couldn't get in my car and it took me about two hours to finally get
it open. By then I wasted the whole day. It was a frustrating day."
"It's not the best time to move into Michigan with the snow and everything
but I am starting to get organized
here," Belkin continued. "I'm just
trying to get things rolling."ln
While snow and soccer will
most likely not become .
synonymous, the duo of Belkin and
soccer go together quite well. Ever v
since she stepped on the field as an
undergraduate at Massachusetts,
Belkin has made a tremendous
impact on the sport she loves.
During an illustrious college
career that saw her lead her team to .
the Final Four in each of her four
seasons in Amherst, the three-time =<<>r
All-American had enough accolades
bestowed on her to make even Joe
Montana jealous. Among the most'
impressive of her awards, Belkin'
was named by Soccer America to
the 1980s All-Decade team.
Upon graduating from UMass in Bekn
1988, Belkin continued her career
playing for the United States women's national team, which she had been a
part of during the previous two years. It was there that she achieved her
ultimate goal - helping the U.S. team win the initial women's World Cup,
held in 1991 in China.
But now, in slowly warming Ann Arbor, Belkin's goals have changed.
While still quite capable of playing on a competitive basis, the soft-spoken
Belkin has a new focus - coaching.
Having been an assistant for four years, Belkin was given her first
opportunity to run her own program in 1992 when she was named the first
head coach of the women's soccer program at Fairfield University in
It was here that Belkin realized what her future truly was to be.
"I like the challenge of being able to get other people to solve their own
problems," said Belkin, who describes herself as intense yet having a good
sense of humor.'"I feel very comfortable in this role now. I like to teach. I feel
now that I am a total coach. And yes, I love to play and I still love to play
competitive soccer, but this is No. I for me now. Whereas I can honestly say a
few years ago that being a player was No. 1 for me."
It was the first-hand experience of building a program from scratch while
at Fairfield that made Belkin such an attractive candidate to the Michigan
athletic department, according to outgoing athletic director Jack Weidenbach.
"Debra Belkin's extensive soccer playing and coaching experience,"
Weidenbach said, "will be invaluable in getting Michigan's varsity women's
soccer program started on a successful note."
Ah, but there's that word. It's bandied about at Michigan as if-the school
owns the official rights to it and merely licenses it out to the rest of the
colleges in America.
At a small, private school like Fairfield, success means a winning season 2
... occasionally. Success is optional.
At a large, public school like Michigan, success means Big Ten
championships ... by the bushel. Success is considered a prerequisite.
The first thing that greets any visitor to the newly renovated athletic
offices at Michigan is a plaque listing the Wolverine conference
championship teams from the previous year.
This is what welcomed Belkin as well, yet the pressure of starting a new
program at a school as rich in athletic tradition as Michigan does not phase her.
"I think the way the sport itself is taking off - soccer in Michigan is very
big, especially for girls - we'll be all right," Belkin said. "And now there is
finally a program where they can stay in state. Michigan State has had a
program for a long time but now they have another choice and it's a choice
that has the academics as well as the athletic tradition. I think the program will

be fine because of the sport that we're starting is so popular."
Belkin has the resourse of a strong women's club team at her disposal but
to compete against long-time varsity programs such as Wisconsin and
Michigan State, it might take some time. The Badgers made it all the way to

ves that his Phoenix Suns, despite the ho
ttle, have a chance to return to the NBA F
itle that eluded them last year.
time, play defense. I really enjoyed
playing under him, and learned a lot
from him.
D: What were the team's feelings
winning the bronze medal, knowing
that nothing less than a gold was ex-
pected by most of the country?
M: We were real upset. Every-
body thought we would win the gold,
and everybody expected us to win the
gold, and that's what we expected.
We worked awfully hard all sum-
mer to do that, and to win the bronze
was definitely a downer. I had a great
experience, and I'll never take that
away. But winning the bronze is not
what we went there for.
D: Are you looking forward to
representing your country again on
Dream Team II next summer in the
World Championships to be held in
M: Yeah, I think it'll be fun. It's
going to take away some of the sum-
mer, which I don't like. But I think
it's going to be a lot of fun playing
with those guys. Getting to know them
a little bit better, I think that's going to

Great Fresh Pasta Dinners for
Less with Your College I.D.
S n 5s & T esa p mea I
Mondays & Tuesdays only, 5-10 p.m. Select from 3 favorites:

Donald J. Munro
Professor of Philosophy and
Chair, Department of Asian
Languages and Cultures
1994 Warner G. Rice
Humanities Award Recipient
The Distortion of
Inquiry in China
January 25
Consequences f.an
Elite Disease
February 1

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