The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, Novmeber 21, 1993 - 3
A* 0 '00 A
Former Duke star reflects on his career
The third player chosen in the
1994NBA Draft, Duke's Grant Hill is
in his rookie season with the Detroit
Hill, who won two NCAA titles
while at Duke, including one over the
Fab Five in 1992, looks to lead the
Pistons back to their championship
form of the late 80s.
Daily Sports Writer Tim Smith
*oke to Hill recently about his tran-
sition to the NBA, life at Duke, and
past games against the Wolverines.
Daily: Are you surprised by all of
the attention that you have received
Hill: Yeah, I'm surprised. I didn't
realize I'd get that much attention. I
don't mind it though. I love playing
for Detroit, so I'm just happy to be
D: Has anything about the pro
game caught you by surprise so far?
H: I get tired a lot. The games are
longer and the season's real long. I
guess I just have to get used to that.
Other than that, (the transition) has
D: Did your father (former Dallas
Cowboys running back Calvin Hill)
ve you any special advice before
eu got to the pros?
H: He's given me a lot of advice.
Just by watching him when I grew up,
though, I knew what it would be like
to be a pro.
D: What kind of influence has he
had on your life and your decision to
H: He influences me more as a
person than as an athlete. Both he and
4 mother have been a tremendous
influence on my life. He didn't pressure
me into pursuing football and told me to
play whatever made me happy.
D: What do you think of the com-
parisons with you and Michael Jor-
H: I don't like the comparisons.
I'd like to go out and make my own
impact on the game without worrying
out comparisons to others.
D: What are your goals for this
H: I just want to go out there and
help our team win. I want to win a lot
D: Do you feel a lot of pressure to
help the Pistons get back to their cham-
pionship form of a couple of years
H: There are no expectations as
h as those I have for myself. I want
to be the best player I can be and
won't be satisfied unless I can do that.
D: Who is the best player you've
encountered in the NBA so far?
H: Charles Barkley by far. He is
an unbelievably talented player. He
was great and has tremendous skills.
Everything everyone says about his
game is true; he's phenomenal.
D: What kind of relationship do
uhave with Pistons captain Joe
H: Joe and I get along real well.
He's a class guy.
D: Have you developed any close
relationships with any of the guys on
H: Yeah, Johnny Dawkins went
to Duke -Oliver Miller, Lindsey
&nter -we all get along. The last
nth we've gotten to know each
other real well.
D: Do any of your teammates treat
you differently because of all the fan-
fare and money that came with you?
H: No, they treat me like one of
the guys. It's cool. We all just get
along real well. We're all on the same
page-nobody's better than anybody
" D: How tough was for you to lose
to Arkansas in the NCAA Finals last
year in your senior season?
H: It was tough. Anytime you lose
it's tough. I thought we played well
and gave it our all, we just didn't pull
D: When you won the NCAA title
in your freshman and sophomore
years, did you think you would ever
H: Yeah. We were a good team.
We had a lot of good players and we
lost a lot of good players. I knew there
was a possibility that we'd win all
four years thatI was there. But we had
to get real lucky. And each year's
team is different. I kind of suspected
that we might lose when I was there
and we did.
D: What was it like playing with
H: It was a lot of fun. He came in
and worked hard and wanted to win
just like me.
D: It's been said that playing with
Laettner is not a fun experience. Did
you have any problems with him?
H: I didn't have a problem with
Christian and he didn't have a prob-
lem with me. We got along real well
and he was a hard worker and a real
good basketball player. I appreciated
his effort and enjoyed playing with
him. It was a lot of fun.
D: You teamed up with him for
perhaps one of the greatest plays in
college basketball history when you
threw a length-of-the-court pass which
he converted for a game-winning shot
against Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA
East Regional Final. What were your
thoughts before you passed it and
when he caught it?
H: I just wanted to make sure I
could get the ball to him where he
could catch it. And he made a great
catch. That was an unbelievable game.
D: In that same year when you
played Michigan in the finals, did
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski have
any special strategy to try and rattle
the five freshmen?
H: No. We went out there and
played our game.
D: Was there ever a point in the
game where you thought you had
them defeated mentally?
H: No. I think when you get to the
championship, even if we're beating
them by 20 with a minute left, they're
still going to compete because you
never know when you're going to be
back in that situation. So I think they
had a lot of pride and they fought us to
D: Did you ever think that five
freshmen could make it that far in the
H: Yeah, I thought it could be
possible. Anything is possible and
they definitely proved that.
D: Who do you think will win the
NCAA title this year?
D: Disregarding your obvious bi-
ases, who else do you think has a good
chance to win it?
H: For me there's no one else out
there. Idon't know thepersonnel of any
other team like I know Duke. So from
what I've seen this summer I'll know
they'll be strong. They'll take some
knocks early, but when it all boils down
to the end I think Duke will win. I don't
really know who else is good out there;
I guess because I'm here I should pick
D: What do you think makes Duke
play so well consistently when it
comes to tournament time?
H: We're all unified and we're
really a team. We get along both on
and off the court. We all had a com-
mon goal and our goal was to win-
win a championship. Fortunately we
were able to do that twice while I was
D: Do you think there is a special
bond between Duke players?
H: We all stay together and we all
get along. A lot of that has to do with
Coach K and the kind of guys he
brings in (to Duke). We all just really
get along. All the teams that I've been
on, the players really stick together
while we are there and when we leave.
D: So what was it like for the team
last year when former Duke guard
and current Sacramento King Bobby
Hurley was critically injured in a car
H: We were in Durham and we
were practicing. Everybody was up-
set but we found out that he was going
to be OK That was the important
We were shocked-devastated.
But once (the doctors) said that he
may have the opportunity to come
back and play, everybody who knew
Bobby knew that he would be back.
D: Do you think he will have suc-
cess as a pro player?
H: Yes, I think so.
D: You have played in many games
against Michigan in your college ca-
reer, what are some of your bestmemo-
H: Winning. Having good games
that go down to the end with both teams
playing hard and being able to some-
how, some way pull out the victory.
D: What do you remember of your
battle with Jalen Rose in last year's
H: I don't really get caught up in
individual matchups. You win as a
team and you lose as a team. I don't
really remember different situations
in the game. I just remember that we
were able to overcome a great perfor-
mance by Michigan and pull out the
D: Do you think it will be tough
playing this year in Detroit, where the
crowd may not be as wild and sup-
portive as they are in Cameron Indoor
H: When you play, regardless of
the building, 20,000 people or no one
there, you're going to go out there and
play hard and play your game. You
block out what's going on inthe crowd
and go out there and do what you've
done your whole life and that's play.
D: What did you think of the
Michigan student section as opposed
H: It seemed like every place we
played was loud. When we were at
home, we had a loud crowd. When we
were on the road, it seemed like ev-
erybody hated us. Everybody was loud
on the road.
D: Do you think athletes at schools
like Michigan and Duke, where the
academics are a major focus, are at a
H: Not really. Both schools are
tough. I can't really speak for the situa-
tion at Michigan, but at Duke, I know
that the academics are definitely tough.
But you can find ways to budget (time).
It proves that if you go to tough schools
GET CUT FROM
Go where the
Baror hop& kat Shrpedt
and have demands in both areas and still
have time to do well in both areas, it is
definitely possible. (Academic suc-
cess) was something that happened.
People graduated, people did well there,
and people did well on the court too.
D: Do you regret your decision not
toleave ayear early for the NBA draft?
H: No. I had the best time in
college and I enjoyed it. I had a great
time in school and playing basketball.
I don't regret anything at all about
staying in school. It was a great deci-
sion on my part because I think it
turned out really well.
D: What do you think of today's
trend where the top players leave af-
ter their sophomore and sometimes
even freshman seasons for the allure
of the NBA?
H: Idon't mind. People have to do
what is best for them. It so happens
that staying in school was the best
thing for me. I enjoyed school and I
had a great time playing for coach K.
To each his own. Everyone has their
own situation and everyone has to do
what is best for them.
D: The Dallas Mavericks had the
second pick last year, but you showed
no interest in playing for them. Why
was that? .,
H: I wasn't against them. I was
just so excited about the possibility of
playing in Detroit that I wanted to be
in Detroit. The (Detroit) offense, the
coaches, the players-everything was
a perfect feel and a perfect fit for me.
D: A lot of today's rookies hold
out for the most lucrative contract,
but you signed early for less than you
probably could have gotten. Why were
you so eager to sign?
H: It's not all about money. It's all
about being happy where you want to
play and where you want to be. If De-
troit had the ninth pick, I'd still want to
play in Detroit. I wanted to go where I
wanted to go and Detroit is where I
wanted to go.
D: What do you foresee yourself
doing once your basketball career is
H: I don't know. I guess I'm like
most 22-year olds. I went to school and
learned a profession. And like most 22-
year olds. and most college graduates,
I'm not really sure, so I guess in the
meantime I'll just play basketball.
Smith's comments lead
to press feeding frenzy
Walter Smith did not want John Cooper fired. He may have said
so a week ago, but he didn't mean it. Walter Smith wanted
Michigan to win, period.
To understand that fact, you must understand Smith. He is fiercely
loyal, almost to a fault. Coach Gary Moeller called the senior co-captain
one of the toughest to wear the maize and blue - this even before a knee
injury sidelined him for what most thought would be the whole season.
When Smith came back several weeks earlier than expected, to catch a
two-yard pass in the waning minutes against Minnesota, he proved worthy
of his coach's superlative.
Smith has said, "I'm just an emotional guy, and when the emotion
flows, I react to it."
That's the kind of guy he is.
So when his proclamation ended up on the cover of every newspaper in
the area, I bristled. His words told readers: Walter Smith is intense. Walter
Smith is unpredictable.
But they also said he is vindictive and malicious. That is simply not true.
To publish Smith's statement out of the context of his other comments
at last week's press conference, and out of the context of who he is, would
be irresponsible. But that's just what several papers and TV stations did.
And as a result, Smith came off as a rabble-rousing thug.
This situation is why many athletes loathe the media. Often, in our quest for
the perfect sound bite, we forget the larger piece from which it was taken.
In the Associated Press's newly-adopted Statement of Ethical
Principles, there is a provision under the title "Fairness" called "Context."
It says: "News should be presented in sufficient historical and factual
context to assure that a fair and accurate picture is conveyed."
Ideally, such ethics are uppermost in reporters' minds, especially when
dealing with an unpaid, amateur athlete. True, Smith was at a press
conference, and knew he was on the record. He shouldn't have said what
he did. The point is that he truly regretted doing so, evidenced when a
shaken Smith stopped coach Gary Moeller on his way into the conference
to warn him about what he'd said.
Smith didn't mean it. Just because he was caught on tape, does that
mean he can't take it back? How many people would want everything they
said set in stone?
"Emotion comes from losing," Smith said. "Especially when we lost to
Wisconsin last year, to watch our coaches feel the pain of losing to another
team, that hurts me. It's just the embarrassment of losing and the
embarrassment of watching other teams celebrate against Michigan. That
right there brings the spirit and the emotion out of me."
That is Walter Smith.
So what exactly was said at that press conference? This was:
"We want to get Cooper fired," Smith said. "That's what I want to do.
We want to keep beating him and beating him until he's no longer there."
"You want to get Cooper fired?" a reporter asked.
"Yeah. Because if he stays there, that means we're not beating him,"
"You really mean you want to get Cooper fired?" another asked.
"Yeah," Smith said. "It's better than getting coach Mo fired."
"... Getting back to that Cooper thing, is that just your opinion, or is that
pretty much the ...", asked yet another reporter.
"That's my opinion. That's my attitude toward any other team that we
play. Me, I just care about Michigan. I don't care about another coach
outside of Michigan or another team.
"If all our players had that type of attitude, we'd be 11-0," Smith said.
And if all journalists weighed the impact that solitary quote - "We want to
get Cooper fired" - would have on Smith, we'd all be a lot better off.
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