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March 07, 1994 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-03-07

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, March 7, 1994 - 3

Q&A:JOHNY OR

Orr

The former Wolverine basketball coach
talks about his memories at Michigan

After a remarkably successful ten-
ure as head basketball coach atMichi-
gan, where he is still the school's all-
time winningest coach, Johnny Orr has
since moved on to the Big Eight confer-
ence to coach Iowa State.
Among his careerachievements are
an appearance in the 1976 national
championship game, and having the
nation's top-ranked team at the end of
the 1977 regular season. Orr won two
Big Ten titles during his 12-year stay,
compiling over200 victories with teams
featuring All-Americans Rickey Green,
Phil Hubbard and Campy Russell.
Recently, Daily Sports WriterDarren
Everson spoke with Orr about the Cy-
clones' season and Michigan memories.
Daily: After three consecutive
NCAA appearances, Iowa State ap-
pears to be having a down year. What
shape is the team in?
Orr: We're okay, but we lost our
center (Fred Hoiberg). We lost him
right in the middle of the year which
madeitkindoftough, butwe'replaying
very well now.
D: How does Iowa State's confer-
ence, the Big Eight, stack up?
0: The thing about the Big Eight is
that, from the top team to the bottom
team, they play each other very close.
They don'tbeat youby 20, 30, 40points
like in theBig Ten, and that's the differ-
ence, I think. No matter where you go
here, it's goint to be a tough game. I
don't care where the team is. When we
were up at the top and played the last-
place team, hell, that was a tough game.
D: Is the National Invitation Tour-
* nament (NIT) still a possibility for you
this year?
0: Well, I think so, but we've got to
havea winning record. I don't think the
NIT would take anyone without a win-
ning record. For us to have a winning
record, we have to win at least two or
three more games. So as long as you
win, you've got a chance.
D: And unlike the Big Ten, the Big
Eight conference does have a season-
* ending tournament.
O: Anything can happen. Last year,
Mizzou was seventh and they won the
tourney. And if you win the tourney,
you're in the (NCAA) tournament. If
Mizzou wins it, then they haveachanceto
be a number one seed, but anyone else, I
think they'll be a number two seed.
D: Let's talk a little about your
career here with Michigan basketball.
What was the reasoning behind leaving
Ann Arbor?
0: Well, during the time that I was
at Michigan, I wasn't making any
money. I was the second lowest paid
coach (in the Big Ten) - only the
coach at Northwestern had been mak-
ing less than I had been making - and
Ihad been there as head coach 12 years,
won two Big Ten championships and
been to the Final Four. I had no outside
income. I couldn't have a television
show to make money or anything like
that. Then all of a sudden I got the
opportunity to come here and they gave
me the opportunity to do all those things
and change my life. So I took it. It's
nothing against Michigan. Ilike Michi-

gan.
I think that sometimes you're in a
place long enough, and I thought that was
long enough, just like I think that I've
probably been here long enough. This will
be my 14th year here. At that time, it was
good for me to make a change, I think. It
kind of pepped me up again - starting a
new program, seeing if Icould do itand get
it going and everything, and I've never
regretted doing that. I've missed Michi-
gan-there's nodoubtaboutthat.Butthe
thing is that when I do quit and retire, I'll
be able to do things that lwould never have
been able to do had I stayed at Michigan.
D: Having been (ex-Michigan
coach) Bill Frieder's predecessor, you
probably had an interest in the events
surrounding his departure in 1989.
What's your view of what happened?

life, and so is Juwan Howard. And I hope
they win the Big Ten championship. I'm
sure theteam and Steve don't worry about
the skeptics.
D: Speaking of skeptics, do you
agree with those who criticized Fisher's
punishment of the athletes involved in
the shoplifting incident? The Detroit
News'Joe Falls, for one, disagreed with
the handling of the situation.
0: That's going to happen atMichi-
gan. Anything you do as a basketball
coach, they (the media) are going to be
skeptical. I had a lot of problems with
the press; not with all of them, just a
few. I think Fisher did the right thing. I
think he did what he felt was necessary
for the team and that's his business.
(The media)don'tknow. They don'tgo
to practice everyday. That's something

I think Jalen Rose is having the best year of his
life, and so is Juwan Howard. And I hope they
win the Big Ten championship.
Johhny Orr
Iowa State basketball coach

0: Well, I asked Bill when he called
me and told me that he was going to
Arizona State if he had talked to (then-
athletic director) BoSchembechler. And
he hadn't. He said he'd left messages at
his office. I told him he'd better get right
on the phone and tell Bo before it gets
out. Well, he wasn't able to get to him,
and of course then it got out, got mis-
construed and everything. I don't think
Bill wanted to leave at that time, but I
think they (Arizona State) put the pres-
sure on him, like if you're going to go,
you've gotta come now or we're going
to go to someone else. I think it was a
heartbreaking thing forhim. Bill makes
over $700,000 a year, so Idon't think it
bothers him now. I think it bothered
him then, because he felt he was going
to win the national championship.
And on the other hand, I can under-
stand Bo's thing - he left, so why
should he be coaching the team? I think
if he had gone to Bo and talked to him
and explained everything, it would have
been a different situation. It just wasn't
like that. I've talked to Bill about it
many times, and I've also talked to Bo
about it. I think they each have their
own ideas about it, but Ithink it's worked
out well for Bill and it's worked out
well for Michigan.
D: So your impressions of Steve
Fisher are positive?
0: I like Fisher very much. I think
he's a helluva coach. I think he's done
an outstanding job at Michigan. I don't
think anybody should question that;
he's one of the great young coaches in
the country. I like him - personally
and as a coach.
D: Having seen the Fab Five first
hand, what was your opinion of them?
0: I've seen the Fab Five in all the
tournaments, seen them on television, I
talktoFishertwoorthreetimesayear,and
I admirethem. Ithinkthey'regreat. I think
Jalen Rose is having the best year of his

that irritates me when they make deci-
sions for me when they don't know.
They don't know what's happened in
practices oranything else, having never
been there, and then they write things
about my team.
I've had guys do things; I had guys
late for meetings this year, and I sat
them on the bench. I had guys not make
curfew, and I didn't play them in the
game. But I think those things are hap-
pening all over the country. I've read
that in many places, not only Michigan.
I've read probably 10 or 15 schools
where guys missed curfews, they've
missed a meal, they've been late, they
haven't made practice on time, done
various things.
Because a kid makes a mistake, you
can'tcondemn the guy, I mean doggone,
man. I think what you've got to do as a
coach, you've gotta do what you think
is going to be satisfactory to the players
on your team. And then if they did the
same thing, you'd have to give the same
punishment to them. And I think that's
what you've got to do.
D: Current Michigan point guard
Dugan Fife's father captained one of
your teams in the seventies. What are
your recollections of him?
O: I think Dan was on the freshman
team when Icame, solhad him for three
years. He's a great competitor and a
terrific guy. Excellent basketball and
baseball player. He was on my staff for
a while. I remember little Dugan back
when he was just a itty-bitty guy.
D: Do you see any similarities in
their play?
0: Oh, yeah. I think little Dugan is a
better shooter-than his dad was. His dad

was a great defensive player and competi-
tor. He wasn't a great shooter but he could
scorethe baskets, you know,he'dgetthem
for you. He was a fierce, fierce competitor
and he was a terrific guy to have on your
team; hadagreatattitude. AndI'msurehis
kid does, too.
D: The '76 Michigan team - the
one that made the national champion-
ship game - would they have to be
your favorite team?
O: I think '77 is. We were No. I in
the nation at the end of the year, and we
got upset. We were in the final eight and
got upset by North Carolina-Charlotte.
'76 and '77 were the two best teams. In
'74 we won the Big Ten championship
with Campy (Russell); that was a team
that also lost in the final eight, got beat
by one point. That was a great team, too,
and a very powerful team. The other
teams were quick, they were super ex-
citing teams.
Rickey Green and Phil Hubbard are
two of the all-time greats at Michigan.
Hubbard, had he not gotten hurt, would
have had all the records. He made the
Olympic team when he was a freshman
in college. He was a great player.
D: When you played that '76 title
game, you were facing Bobby Knight and
his undefeated Hoosiers. Was getting the
team to believe they could win difficult?
0: That wasn't any problem. They
beat us in overtime on a controversial
play at the end of the game at Indiana. It
was whether the basket was before or
after the buzzer. Had we been at Michi-
gan it wouldn't have counted. But we
were at Indiana, so it counted. That was
a great basketball game. We led at the
half (of the title game). We thought we
could win that game. We didn't have
any doubts we could win the game.
D: Under any circumstances, could
you ever fathom going back to Michigan?
0: Goodness, no. No, I'd never
come back. Once I'm gone, I'm gone.
And I'm happy where I am; I love it
here. It wasn't all money; it was the
opportunities that they offered me here
that I did not have at Michigan at the
time. They didn't pay me that much
more money, but they gave me the
opportunities to make money that I did
not have at Michigan.
And then theother thing is thepeople
here. I have some friends at Michigan;
great friends. But here, man, we fill this
arena- all the time- and we've done
it now for seven, eight years. The fans
and everything here, they're wild and
crazy. Around the state here, I'm looked
up to tremendously. I'm gonna live
here when I retire, and I really like it
here. I like the area, I like the size of the
town and I like everything about Iowa.

]KEN SUGIURA
Close But No Sugiura
Camping fan must be
in Crisler's front row
Sitting in his Chevy 8-10 Blazer outside of Crisler Arena, protected
from a light evening rain, Asher Stoller, a senior history of art major,
is talking basketball.
More specifically, he remembers back to the Jan. 3 Boston University
game that preceded the Jan. 5 contest against Michigan State.
"Right after the B.U. game ended, which was like 9:30, I camped out
right away for the Michigan State game," he says. No one joined him in
line, though, until the day of the game. "It was really disappointing."
While "disappointing" is probably not the word that comes to most
people's minds, know this about Stoller, known to Michigan hoop junkies
simply as Asher:
In order to sit in the first row of the first-come, first-served student
section, Asher has camped out for every home game except one this year.
And he missed it not because of final exams (accommodating professors
have changed test dates for him), nor because of vacation (he cut his winter
break short to attend the Boston University game).
He missed the Feb. 16 Iowa game because, after waiting 67 hours for
the Feb. 8 Indiana game (roughly 33 1/2 times longer than the game itself),
his body decided to tell him what it thought of this waiting game.
"I threw up for four days straight," Asher recalls. "I really feel bad
about it, because it ruined the streak."
So what kind of person decides that it is necessary to wait a combined
three-plus weeks in order to get the best seat in the house (Section 3, Row
1, Seat 1) for every game?
Asher says his friends would describe him as "loony," not surprisingly.
His previous claim to fame comes from the time he ran laps in a high
school gym class. His elapsed time wasn't so noteworthy as was the fact
that he wasn't wearing any clothes.
But he also says they would describe him as "very Jewish," not
necessarily the first phrase that comes to mind when you think of a fan as
obsessed as Asher. But you realize it is entirely fitting once you talk to this
friendly, talkative premed from Omaha, Nebraska.
He figures he has made about 100 friends through waiting in line.
Fellow students constantly stop him to ask when he thinks ticket office
employees will make their next line check or they come to sign the List, the
document that helped spawn his minor celebrity status.
Since the current seating arrangement was established in 1991, Asher
says that there had been problems with students cutting in line, losing their
place, or as was the case at the Duke game two years ago, getting crushed,
as eager mobs of students pressed into the line ahead.
To try to alleviate the problem for this year's Duke game, Asher drew
up a list that students could sign to mark their place in line. (He had the
time to do this since he was waiting in line for 75 hours.) The massive
overnight crowd quickly warmed up to the idea.
Saturday morning, ticket office workers called on Asher to line the
students up in correct order. And Asher Stoller, LSA senior, became Asher,
the guy with the List.
"When we were about to go in, everyone started chanting, 'Asher!
Asher!' My friends kind of looked at me in disbelief," he says. "People
started slapping my back, yelling, 'You're No. 1!' and stuff like that. It was
just really funny. I never thought it would be that big of a deal. But being
first in line, everyone thinks it's important."
Soon after, the ticket office deputized Asher to maintain the List. More
honors followed. Steve Fisher wrote Asher a letter, thanking him for his
support. Before the Indiana game, the coach invited him and his early-
arriving friends to watch practice.
Moe's Sports Shops gave him a sweatshirt for the game, inscribed with
the message, "Bobby Knight, kick this."
See SUGIURA, Page 4

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