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March 14, 1994 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-03-14

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4 - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, March 14, 1994

Tourney
thoughts
get best of
Michigan
EVANSTON - "When we
win, have your photographer
in the lockerroom for the
handing out of the Big Ten trophy."
One of Michigan's numerous
athletic department handlers offered
this missive prior to the Wolver-
ines' get-together with Northwest-
ern. Suffice it to say, things did not
turn out how he had hoped.
Overconfident? Not Michigan.
Poised on the precipice of
grabbing at least a share of their
first Big Ten championship in eight
years, the Wolverines certainly
would not look past the underated,
overanxious Wildcats.
If you can
believe it,
though,
Michigan did
precisely that.
With NCAA
tournament
seedings just a
BRETT day from being
FORREST thrust upon the
Forrest public, and
Fires March
Madness com-
mencing only five days hence, the
Wolverines could not help them-
selves.
The team never won the Big Ten
when Webber was here. We better
get at least a No. 2 seed. Where
would you rather go, Arco Arena or
USAir Arena?
There is a difference between
expecting victory and Expecting
Victory. Coupled with
Northwestern's recent ineptitude in
Big Ten basketball, the athletic
department's slogan of Expect
Victory surely does not goad the
hoops team into taking any adver-
sary for granted. Rather, the mantra
should instill the Wildcats with
confidence and a belief in their
abilities. Faith is half the battle.
Michigan, on the other hand,
entered Welsh-Ryan Arena actually
awaiting a hassle-free triumph.
After answering countless queries
regarding yesterday's matchup
between Purdue and Illinois and
fielding unending streams of
questions about their possible
placement in the NCAA tourna-
ment, the Wolverines were thinking
of bigger and better things.
Their minds were on glorified
confrontations held in plush venues
such as the Charlotte Coliseum,
when they should have been
concentrating on the contest
enfolding in a cramped, hostile
CCRB look-alike. The Wolverines
Were dreaming of Montross,
O'Bannon and Kidd when they had
Neloms, Kirkpatrick and Rankin at
their very fingertips.
It may take an effort to criticize
them for being anxious about a
tournament in which they have a
10-2 record the past two seasons.
But fellas, this is Northwestern.

The Wildcats hit you up for 97
points - and I don't care if there
was an overtime session. You really
do have to try pretty hard to give up
97 points to Northwestern.
Was your team caught looking
past this game? "That's absolutely
... no," Michigan head man Steve
Fisher said. But coach, how else do
you explain it?
The Wildcats had not beaten
Michigan in their last 17 tries. They
only scored 54 points in their last
win over the Wolverines - a two-
point overtime squeaker in 1984.
Then how did Saturday happen?
Northwestern's coach offered his
own hypothesis.
"I just think they ran into a
different kind of Northwestern
team," Ricky Byrdsong said.
No way. The Wildcats could
have done their best impression of
an all-time, all-star Northwestern
squad, and would not have beaten
Michigan ready for the worst.
So, again, why did the Wolver-
ines lose to Northwestern?
"I think people looked past
them," Howard said.
"Northwestern's a lot better team
than people think."
Ah, there it is. Certain individu-

Norlthwestern earns respect

By CHAD A. SAFRAN
DAILY BASKETBALL WRITER
EVANSTON - The color purple
has long been associate d with roy-
alty. Whoever wears clothing with
that particular hue gives off rEgal
appearance. Then, why is i the color
of Northwestern, a school wh s ma-
jor sports - football and basketball
- have had as much success as Henry
VIII did at finding wives?
While Gary Barnett's gridders are
still searching to establish themselves
as able to instill fear in its opponents,
the men's basketball team. under
Ricky Byrdsong, has had a huge
change of fortune in just one seasr;n.
Following Bill Foster's departure
from the school's head coaching po-
sition, Byrdsong came to Northwest-
ern last spring, leaving behind a De-
troit-Mercy basketball program he
helped return to respectability. The
Titans finished the 1992-93 season
15-12, the school's first winning
record in eight years.
Byrdsong inherited a program with
a reputation for being more of a loser
than Rodney Dangerfield. The Wild-
cats had not finished above .500 since
completing the 1982-83 season at 18-
12. At the pre-season Big Ten press
conference, he revealed that he had
seen very few of his players actually
play.
But as is so often the case, things
change and do so radically. With its
97-93 victory over No. 8 Michigan,
Northwestern improved to 14-13 and
earned itself a bid to the National
Invitational Tournament (NIT)
against DePaul Wednesday night in
Evanston. Before defeating the Wol-
verines, the most important thing on
the Wildcats' minds was taking finals

this week.
'I didn't want to end my career
tonight," Northwestern's Kip
Kirkpatrick said.
With Kirkpatrick and the four
other seniors possibly playing their
final collegiate game, the Cats came
away with one of college basketball's
biggest upsets this season in a year in
which the underdog has reigned su-
preme. Penn State defeating Purdue.
Connecticut losing to Ohio. This list
goes on. And while the season has
been strange throughout NCAA
hoops, nothing could top Byrdsong's
actions when his team traveled to
Minnesota.
The Wildcats were in the midst of
a lengthy losing streak, after begin-
ning the season with a promising 9-0
non-conference schedule, and sat in
the all-too familiar conference base-
ment. During the contest in Minne-
apolis, the former Arizona assistant
wandered on to the court during play,
walked into the Williams Arena stands
to shake hands with the Golden Go-
pher faithful and the mascot and
viewed some of the game from one of
the seats. Byrdsong was ejected from
the game and took a temporary leave
of absence.
He said at the time he was attempt-
ing to show his players what courage
was. Most thought he was doing a
better job of demonstrating mental
illness.
Yet, the Cats did respond in his
absence, going 2-2 under assistant
Paul Swanson. Since returning to the
team, Byrdsong had led his club to a
strong finish, including wins over Wis-
consin and now the Wolverines.
"I've seen the whole season as
fighting through adveristy,"

Kirkpatrick said.
Saturday, however, itwas more than
Byrdsong'scoaching that helped North-
western. The five seniors, who have
gone through their share of trials and
tribulations, knew what they had to do
against the Wolverines if they wanted
to go out in style.
"I wanted to go out and work as
hard as possible," said Cedric
Nelloms, who netted 28 points and
killed Michigan all day with his slash-
ing moves to the basket. "I wanted to
do it for the seniors."
He may have done more than just
aid those playing their final season at
Northwestern. The victory may just
propell the Wildcats into a category *
not long associated with their men's
basketball program - respectability.
"Northwestern has been playing
with great confidence," said Michi-
gan coach Steve Fisher, who was an
assistant with Byrdsong while the two
were at Western Michgan during the
1979-80 season. "The way they have
been playing they can play with any-
body."

JONATNAN LURIE/ Daily
Northwestern coach Ricky Byrdsong is congratulated after the Wildcats 97-
93 victory over Michigan Saturday. The Wildcats earned an NIT bid.
Despite a better year
Wildcats share last place
By BRETT FORREST
DAILY BASKETBALL WRITERj
EVANSTON - Northwestern finished in last place in the Big Ten once
again, despite its best conference record in 10 years. The Wildcats finished in
seventh place in the 1983-84 Big Ten campaign with a 7-11 conference record.
Two of their victories that year came by virtue of Wisconsin forfeits.
Although not a reason to celebrate, the Wildcats have now claimed this
distinction for the greater part of the last decade, escaping the cellar last year
because of Penn State's 2-16 Big Ten record. However, Northwestern had some
company for once at the bottom.
Iowa shared basement honors with the Cats. The Hawkeyes had their worst
conference record since finishing 4-14 for an eighth place standing in 1990. With
its last-place finish, Iowa ended the year in that position for the first time since
1939.
"This has been a great year for us," Northwestern coach Ricky Byrdsong said
of an admittedly tumultuous season. "We've had a lot of fun. We've had it in
perspective - I know it's hard to visualize."
By the way, 1983-84 also marks the last time Northwestern beat Michigan.
The Wildcats were victorious at Welsh-Ryan Arena, 54-52, also in overtime.
"They were obviously ready to play," Byrdsong said of his team. "There was
no way Michigan was going to blow this team out today."
Saturday's win nearly evened Northwestern's home record against the
Wolverines. The Wildcats are now 29-31 against Michigan in Evanston.
ROSE MAKES s Poiwr: With 33 points Saturday, Jalen Rose moved up one
more notch on Michigan's all-time scoring list. The junior moved past Bill
Buntin and into sixth place (1,729 points). With 578 points this year, Rose is the
fifth Wolverine to record at least three 500-point seasons. Glen Rice, Mike
McGee, Cazzie Russell and Buntin are the others.
Rose, along with former All-American Gary Grant, is also one of two
Wolverines to score at least 1,600 points while recording 300 assists, 400
rebounds and 100 steals in a career.
However, following the game in Evanston, all-time lists were far from the
forefront of Rose's mind. When asked if the loss tarnished an otherwise excellent
Big Ten season, he muttered, "sort of," and sauntered onto the team bus.
OH NO NOT AGAIN: With its pending matchup against Pepperdine Thursday,
Michigan will face a team from the West Coast Conference in the tournament for
the first time since encountering Loyola Marymount in the second round of the
1990 tournament. The Wolverines fell to the Lions by the largest margin in the
history of the men's basketball program ,149-115.
IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME: The last time Northwestern extended its year into
postseason play was ... drum roll please ... 1982-83. That year the Wildcats
finished the regular season with a 17-11 record and were eighth in the Big Ten.
They then beat Notre Dame, 71-57, in the first round of the NIT, only to lose to
DePaul, 65-63, in the second round.
HowAPD MsroNEs: Juwan Howard moved into 15th place on the all-time
Michigan scoring list against Northwestern. The center has scored in double
figures in all 26 games he has played in this season. Saturday he recorded his
seventh double-double on the year, scoring 32 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Michigan center Juwan Howard
spoke of the Wildcats having mo-
mentum entering the game. For those
seniors, it was more than that; it was
pride.
"We wanted to have something to
show for," Todd Leslie said. "All
those close games lately have helped."
Contests such as a three-point loss
at Ohio State. Losing at Indiana by
five. The list goes on, which may
have explained the behavior of Pat
Baldwin late in the game.
"I was sitting on the sideline ask-
ing God to be on our side," Baldwin
said.
His prayers were answered.

*

HERRINGTON
Continued from page 3
Anyone who disagrees with the
absurdity of the post-season tourna-
ment obviously didn't watch any bas-
ketball Saturday. In one of the weird-
est days in college hoops history, six
top-10 teams fell, creating some of
the sorrier tournament championship
matchups in recent memory.
For starters, there was Georgetown*
against Providence in the Big East fi-
nals. The No. 6 versus No. 4 seeds.
Sure the winner might not have other-
wise made the NCAAs, but isn't there
a reason for that? Georgetown's record
doesn't warrant a bid, regardless of its
past.
Of course the Big Eight countered
with a heavyweight tilt of its own:
Nebraska versus Oklahoma State.
After becoming the first team since
1971 to have gone undefeated in Big
Eight play, Missouri's one-point loss
to the Huskers speaks volumes against
conference tournaments.
For all the hard work during the
regular season, the Tigers get a pat on
the back and a seat in front of their
TVs for the finals.
Abouttheonly entertainingmatchup
yesterday was the North Carolina/Vir-
ginia game, and even this was not stel
lar. The Cavaliers have been more er-
ratic than the Michigan weather.
Aside from all the craziness within
the postseason tournamentsthis year, it
was Michigan's own four-point loss to
Northwestern Saturday that offers the
best reason NOT to have a tournament.
By losing to the Wildcats, the Wol-
verines completed the biggest collapse
in years. Michigan deserves little syn
pathy, let alone a second chance at a
piece of the conference championship,
after losing three of its last four games,
including its head-to-head matchup
with Purdue.
For Michigan fans, the empty feel-
ing which followed the Northwestern
game is the direct result of having a
regular season that actually means
something. If Michigan could redeem
itself with a sweep in a post-season
tournament, fans would probably be
disappointed for a day or so, then move
on to Indianapolis forpostseason glory.
Likewise, if the Wolverines had
pulled out their game last week against
Purdue, clinching at least a share of
the Big Ten title, the euphoria of the
championship would have been all
the sweeter knowing that the one-
point comeback victory in Iowa City
back in January and the squeaker in.
West Lafayette did not go for naught.
To a man, the Wolverines them-
selves agreed that what makes their
elusive quest for a Big Ten ring so
important is what the championship
.,'- e n

'CATS
Continued from page 1
"Pat truly hit a shot that had nothing
to do with coaching at all," Northwest-
ern coach Ricky Byrdsong said. "It was
one of those, 'No, no, yes, yes' shots.
Coaching accounted for the other 94
points."
Despite Howard's 33 points and
Rose's 32, Michigan dropped its third
game in four outings as Northwestern
shot 62 percent (32-for-52).
"It was disgusting and disappoint-
ing" Fisher said. "They had too many
cuts, flashes and slashes. The last part
of the first half was awful."
After a 8-0 Michigan run, which
featured an ally-oop from Ray Jackson
to Howard, the Wolverines appeared
on the verge of making the game theirs
IIX~tha 7_1 a a a - ; aiin

experienced Wolverines had difficulty
keeping their composure down the
stretch and throughout much of the
game, evidinced by 24 turnovers and
shooting a mere 14 free throws. The
Wildcats did give the ball away 20
times themselves, but managed to go
24 of 31 from the stripe.
"We just choked," Howard said.
"The Big Ten is long gone. The NCAA
tournament, tome, is like a newseason.
And the Wolverines hope a new
beginning as well.
MICHIGAN (93)
FG FT MM
*N-A -A 0-TA F PTS
Jackson 34 5.8 0-0 1-8 6 5 10
King 32 2-5 0-0 0-0 3 4 4
Howard 45 14-22 4-7 4-13 7 4 32
Rose 451319 5-7 1-3 5 4 33
Fife 31 2-4 00 03 05 4
Saint-Jean 28 2-5 0O 24 0 4 4
Derricks 6 0-0 0-0 0- 1 1 0
!Ndiaye 2 1-1 0-0 0-0 01 2
Crawford 2 1-2 0-0 1-1 0 0 3
Totals 225 40466 9.14 12-33 2328 93I
FG%: .606. F%: .643. Three-lont goals: 4-12,
.333 (Rose 2-6, Crawford 1-2, Fife 1-3. Howard 0-

JONATHAN LURIE/ Daily
Jimmy King scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting against Northwestern.

TOURNEY
Continued from page 1
I do most of the talking. This time I
made certain that everyone had to talk.
it wac inst snmethin a ui n -de d tc "

time we started getting back to what we
believe in, what we're like on the bas-
ketball court: that is, players that are
hard-nosed."
On a note unrelated to the tourna-
ment, Fisher responded to questions
invn1ving ana rticle in Sundav's De-

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