Thursday, all day
Thursday, 8:08 p.m. (CBS)
By RAVI GOPAL
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
The Michigan men's rugby team's
trip to the St. Patrick's Day Invita-
tional in Washington, D.C. this past
weekend served its purpose well - to
give the team a chance to prepare for
the rigors of the regular season.
The club team, the defending
Michigan Cup junior club champi-
ons, posted a 1-2 record in the tourna-
ment, as did its younger counterpart,
the college team.
The club team lost to the Wash-
ington B Club team, 20-8. The Wol-
verines came back to defeat the host
Washington Irish, 12-10, before bow-
ing out of the tournament with a tough
loss to Severn River, 5-3.
The collegiate squad lost to the
Eastern Pennsylvania Selects, a team
comprised of rugby All-Stars, by a
score of 20-5. A 17-3 win over Towson
State and a loss to Princeton, 20-12,
ended its tournament run.
Michigan's won-loss record
overshadows the fact that it played
against outstanding competition
throughout the tournament. The
Washington B team has gone to the
national tournament three of the last
five years, and Princeton is a mem-
ber of the notoriously tough Ivy
'The conditions didn't
suit us. We have a lot
of speed and mobility.'
- Tom Warburton
Michigan rugby player
"Ivy League teams are tradition-
ally some of the best teams," said
Mark Nemec, a graduate student, who
is a fly-half on the club team.
The conditions didn't suit the
Wolverines' game either. Since
Michigan is more of a finesse team, a
dry field with clear skies would suit it
well. However, its playing ground in
D.C. was far from perfect.
"We played in ankle deep mud,"
sophomore Mike Springs said.
These sloppy conditions hampered
the Wolverine attack, and thus didn't
allow them to take advantage of their
quickness, club president Tom
"The conditions didn't suit us," he
said. "We have a lot of speed and
On the club team, Warburton cited
the play of Nemec and Mike Carter.
Carter, an M.B.A. student, and Nemec
See RUGBY, Page 1
Pelinka's dream still vivid
Former cager remembers 1989 championship run
Former Michigan point guard Rumeal Robinson gets ready to drain the two
free throws that sunk Seton Hall in the 1989 NCAA championship game.
By TIM RARDIN
DAILY BASKETBALL WRITER
When former Michigan basket-
ball player Rob Pelinka was a kid,
there was one thing he loved to do.
One thing, more than anything else,
he looked forward to with the free-
The terated excite-
Thement that only a
Victors' kid with dreams
Run "The thing I
most about (the
ment) is when I
was a little kid
growing up in
Chicago, I used
to, like a lot of
kids at this time of year, always turn
on the TV and watch the games,"
Pelinka said. "Year in and year out,
after the championship game, they
run a piece where they kind of show
highlights of the whole tournament
and they play it to 'One Shining Mo-
ment' or some song like that. That
was my favorite thing in the whole
"I liked that more than Christmas."
Never in his life, though, not even
when he arrived to play at Michigan
in the Fall of 1988, did Pelinka expect
he'd go to the Final Four. Never did
he expect to see himself on that same
goosebump-hatching highlight reel.
But that all changed very quickly,
when the Wolverines captured the
1989 national title - the first in school
history - his freshman year.
"That championship is so dream-
like that it's like it's not there," said
Pelinka, who is now a law student at
Michigan. "It'sjustadream, it's some-
thing that I replay in my head. I think
the best thing to do is to just dream
Still, even when the regular season
had ended that year, he didn't anticipate
his dream becoming a reality.
In fact, not many people, includ-
ing the Wolverines, thought they
would get to Seattle for the NCAA
Final Four, much less win the cham-
A 16-point loss to Illinois at home
in the last game of the season left
behind a host of doubts about how
good this team was, and left Michigan
in third place in the Big Ten.
Like an innocent child, no one
quite knew what to expect from these
"I remember our last game of the
regular season, we played Illinois,"
Pelinka recalled. "We got spanked by
like 30 points at home on senior day.
We wanted to win it for Glen (Rice),
so that was a big game and we just got
killed. I don't think any of us thought
we'd be in Seattle. We had a good
team, but I don't think any of us really
thought we'd go all the way."
That loss, coupled with the ensu-
ing resignation of coach Bill Frieder
- who took the head job at Arizona
State - left the Wolverines in disar-
ray just before the tournament began.
Assistant coach Steve Fisher was pro-
moted for the tournament, though
Michigan basketball great Cazzie
Russell's name was tossed around as
They were unsure of themselves
and they were unsure of their coach,
but the sudden change in coaches
sparked a much-needed change in the
"I think out of any bad situation
like that where you lose your head
coach, I think some good can come
out," Pelinka said. "At first, it really
caught us by surprise. I think the
change was really refreshing for all of
the players, just because it was kind
of like starting the season all over
again. It really rejuvenated everybody.
"I can remember we were all in the
locker room and Loy Vaught, who
was kind of the team prankster, walked
in before practice one night - I think
it was before the pairings show. He
said, 'Guys, Frieds just took the job at
Arizona State. He broke out on us.'
We were like, yeah, funny Loy, good
try. Then they flashed something on
TV, and in comes Bo Schembechler,
with his trench coat - it was raining
- he had a hat on, and an umbrella, so
"He kind of laid it on us, and said,
'I want a Michigan man coaching the
Michigan team. Steve Fisher's gonna
be your coach and I want you guys to
go out and show the country that
you're a Michigan team.' It was defi-
nitely a huge surprise but it was also
very refreshing. I think that was one
reason why we did so well was be-
cause it was like a fresh start."
Indeed, what at first spelled doom
for Michigan eventually spelled relief.
The Wolverines drew a No. 3 seed
in the Southeast Regional in Atlanta,
and climbed their way through the first
three games of the tournament, includ-
ing a thrilling 92-87 victory over North
Carolina in Lexington, Ky.
A 102-65 dismantling of Virginia
launched Michigan - interim coach
and all - into the Final Four, setting
up a rematch with the Fighting Illini,
who had uprooted their confidence
just a few weeks earlier, and who had
beaten the Wolverines both times they
met in the regular season.
This semifinal would leave plenty
sleepless in Seattle, but Sean Higgins'
baseline jumper at the buzzer exacted
revenge on Illinois, and catapulted
his team into the final game against
Regulation ended in that game with
the Wolverines and Pirates tied at 71.
Junior Rumeal Robinson stepped to
the line with three seconds left in
overtime, and Michigan down one.
"I was just thinking he's gotta be
the most nervous person in the whole
world," Pelinka recalled. "We had
had a game earlier that season at Wis-
consin where Rumeal had missed.
We were down one, and he missed
'I don't think any of us
thought we'd be in
Seattle. We had a good
team, but I don't think
any of us really thought
we'd go all the way.'
- Rob Pelinka
Member of 1989 NCAA
both free throws with like 3 seconds
left on the clock, and we lost. After
that game, he and coach Fisher made
a commitment to stay after practice 0
and shoot extra free throws. He had
kind of promised the team after the
Wisconsin game that nothing like that
would ever happen again.
"I felt like Rumeal was a pretty
cool customer. I felt good about it,
said a prayer, and the rest is history."
Robinson - a dismal 50-plus per-
cent free-throw shooter - made them
both, Michigan won its first-ever na-
saw his childhood dream come true.
"I remember after we won the
national championship, I was stand-
ing next to Glen Rice or giving him a
hug or something, and I was kind of
thinking to myself, man, we're in that
thing they're playing on TV right
now," Pelinka fondly recalled.
"It was just like a total dream. At
that point to me, it was something I
couldn't even really fully grasp. Be-
ing on the court, dancing around,
wearing a ring, cameras everywhere,
people everywhere, just feeling like
you're on top of the world.
"It was more like I was a little kid
watching that highlight all over again."
Ahh, to be a kid again.
coin the way
i f p N
i c y
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