The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 3, 1994 - 9
*Respert overcomes obstacles to lead State
Junior guard key to
By KEVIN BULL
STATE NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Shawn Respert can remember
playing basketball with his father in
South Dakota as a youngster. Every-
where his father traveled, little Shawn
was quick to follow.
When his father, Henry, went to
the gym to play basketball, Shawn
was always right by his side, craving
a.chance to show off his skills.
Today, the roles have reversed.
"I started off running to the gym
with him all the time," said Respert, a
unor guard and third-year starter at
'4ichigan State. "Now he wants to
ruh to the gym with me."
The Spartan co-captain wasn't al-
ways in the spotlight. Something
seemed to constantly get in his way.
Adversity struck Respert like a cold-
When Respert was four, his fam-
ily moved to Detroit. His father left
the U.S. Air Force Academy to work
lor Ford Motor Co., and his mother,
Diane, became a registered nurse.
Yet his passion to play basketball
"I must have hit every playground
in every neighborhood," Respert said.
His prep career started out prom-
isingly at Redford Bishop Burgess
High. As a freshman, he was pro-
moted to the varsity squad midway
*hrough the season.
Respert's sophomore year in 1988
was even more immense, as his team
advanced to the Class C state finals
before falling to Grand Rapids South
After a junior year during which
an unexpected illness struck his
mother, diverting his attention from
the court, Respert's senior season
would be one he would never forget.
Slam dunks, pressing defense and
his signaturejump shot best described
the young, energetic Respert. Recruit-
Spartans' victory chances vs. Wolverines
ers were stunned at what they saw.
"I wasn't high on anybody's depth
chart," Respert said. "Most schools
had three or four players prioritized.
A lot of the big-time Division I schools
saw me as questionable."
Detroit-Mercy, Tulsa, Connecti-
cut and Michigan State were the only
major Division I schools interested in
Respert, leaving him with two choices.
"I could be a big fish in a little
pond or a little fish in a big pond," he
said. "But even then, I figured if I put
my mind to it, I would turn out to be
what I want to be. So I took a chance."
Respert committed to Michigan
State during the early signing period
in November 1989, helping to put the
critics behind him for his final season.
It turned out to be his best season;
he captured his second Detroit Catho-
lic League MVP award, leading the
team with a 22.1 scoring average.
A dream season was in the making.
Then came the knee injury.
It happened in the Catholic League
semifinals against Southgate Aquinas
High. Respert stepped on another
player's ankle, his ankle didn't turn,
and instead his knee buckled the wrong
The result was a season-ending
anterior cruciate ligament damage in
his right knee.
"All through high school it seemed
like every time things got ready to get
going and fall in place career-wise,
something happened," Respert said.
"After the injury, some doctors told
me I might not ever play again."
But Respert couldn't be shut out
from the game he loved. Just two
months after knee surgery he was
dunking the basketball again.
"The trainer didn't want me play-
ing right away," he said. "But I said,
'I ain't gonna let no one keep me from
playing.' And eight months later I
was ready to play competitively."
Respert may have thought he was
ready, but his knee wasn't. When
Respert arrived in East Lansing, Spar-
tan coaches wanted to take things slowly.
Michigan State already had senior
All-American and Detroit native Steve
Smith to carry the scoring load. Yet
Respert admired Smith in the single
season they shared together.
"He was in the same position (as I
was)," Respert recalled. "He was a
guy that everybody felt wasn't good
enough. Then he proved everyone
wrong. He was always one of the ones
that figured I could make it."
It would take time, though. Respert
got his chance in the fourth game of
the year against Detroit-Mercy. But a
sparkling homecoming debut was
shattered when Spartan head coach
Jud Heathcote pulled him after he had
played only three minutes.
It was the knee. Respert's true
freshman season was over. No points.
No dunks. No recognition. He would
"We saw that he still had a sore
knee afterward," Heathcote said. "We
didn't want to take any chances."
Respert knew he had something to
prove and did he ever make his point
the following season.
Many points, to be precise.
Respert started all 30 games, and
his 15.8 scoring average led the team
The redshirt freshman who many
recruiters had doubted and labeled
questionable finally started living up
the potential he knew he possessed all
along. Heathcote played a key role in
his sudden success, Respert said.
"I wasn't taught about the right
rotation on a shot or to keep the ball in
front of me until college," he said. "I
had the raw skills, and Coach refined
them. And that's when things fell into
This season, Respert is realizing
his dreams of becoming a big-time
basketball star. His 22.6 scoring aver-
age is third in the Big Ten and is No.
1 in Spartan scoring for the third
Yet the public spotlight is still
relatively new to him.
"I've just kept low for so long that
youjust get hungry for more," Respert
said. "My biggest thing is, once I feel
I've done a good enough job to please
myself and others, here come others
to try to knock me off. That's why I'm
the first one in the weight room and
gym, and the last one out.
"You can be a good player in col-
lege and just pass on through the
program. I can play my role out, or I
can work on the things I need to and
do some damage."
Respert's childhood vision of play-
ing in the NBA could become a real-
ity. But until the time is right, he has
other goals to focus on.
"One of my immediate goals is to
get my degree before the pros," he
said. "Another is to finally say to
myself that I've gone through my
basketball career with no regrets."
And so far there are none.
Junior Shawn Respert paces Michigan State with a 22.1 scoring average.
EJe 4aicIhi an prif Display
Account Executive of the Week.
U.S. Hockey squad separates Ferraro twins
ROUEN, France (AP) - For the
first time ever, the Ferraro twins won't
*e playing hockey together.
Peter, a top scorer for the U.S.
Olympic team, goes to Lillehammer.
Chris, tied for the club lead in assists,
"It's one of the hardest cuts in the
world," coach Tim Taylor said
Chris Ferraro learned of Taylor's
decision Sunday,just before the team
Eeft for Europe to play its final four
,pre-Olympic games. Chris, who is
still with the club, politely declined to
"There's no doubt in my mind
that he's a great player and he should
be staying with us. Things just didn't
work out," Peter Ferraro said. "It's
very unfortunate, but I'm just going
to have to deal with it and live on for
* "I've never really played without
him. I hope it doesn't change my
game. I have to work things out by
With Ted Drury and Peter
,Ciavaglia leaving pro teams to join
the U.S. squad, someone had to go.
Ian Moran was cut last week and
Ferraro will depart after the four-day
Rouen tournament, which starts
rhursday when the United States
"Chris was dealt a bad blow in
that he got mononucleosis in the
middle of the tour," Taylor said.
"That put him behind the 8-ball, at a
competitive disadvantage to the other
Despite missing three weeks in
October, Chris Ferraro has 34 assists
to go with eight goals. Peter shares
She team assist lead (as does Todd
Marchant) and also has 26 goals.
The Ferraro twins, natives of
Sound Beach, N.Y., have played to-
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gether at every level of competitive
hockey since they were eight. They
turned 21 last week.
In 1991-92, Peter was MVP of
the junior U.S. Hockey League and
scored 101 points, two more than
Chris. Chris had been the league's
MVP and leading scorer the previ-
Peter led the 1992 U.S. national
junior team in scoring and Chris
was one point behind. Each had 11
points during 1993 World Junior
Championships. As freshmen at
Maine last season, they helped the
Black Bears win the NCAA Divi-
sion I title; Chris was fourth in scor-
ing with 51 points, Peter was fifth
And both forwards were drafted
by the NHL's New York Rangers in
1992- Peter in the first round, Chris
in the fourth.
Chris made the trip to Rouen be-
cause Taylor wasn't sure about the
status of Ciavaglia and Drury.
Ciavaglia, who was playing in the
Swedish elite league, arrived yester-
day and will play today. Drury, who
was with the NHL's Calgary Flames,
joined the U.S. team Sunday and is
just coming back from a knee injury;
he's not expected to play until Satur-
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