The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, February 27, 1995 - 3
Q&: DIGER HELS
Former Notre Dame basketball
coach talks about his career
Digger Phelps was the winningest
basketball coach in Notre Dame
history. After brief, successful stints at
the University of Pennsylvania and
Fordham, Phelps moved on to Notre
Dame for the 1971-72 season where
he remained until the 1990-91
In 20 seasons at Notre Dame,
Phelps recorded a 393-197 mark
(666), including 14 20-win seasons.
He led the Fighting Irish to its only
Final Four appearance in 1977-78.
Perhaps the highlight of Phelps'
brilliant coaching career was the
Irish's stunning defeat of John
Wooden's UCLA team on January
19, 1974. UCLA brought an 88 game
winning streak into the game, the
longest in NCAA history. In this
game, Phelps' Fighting Irish team
overcame an 11-point deficit with
three minutes remaining to hand
UCLA its first loss in three years.
Nine of Phelps'players were
chosen in the first round of the NBA
Draft and five earned first team All-
American honors. In his 20 years at
Notre Dame, Phelps coached
numerous future NBA stars including
Bill Laimbeer, Adrian Dantley, Kelly
Tripucka, and Orlando Woolridge. In
addition, every player who had
competedforfour years under Phelps
earned their degree. '
Phelps resigned as head coach on
April IS, 1991. He now works for
ESPN as both a college basketball
studio analyst and in the press booth
Daily Sports Writer Doug Stevens
recently spoke with Phelps about the
prospects of him returning to
coaching, his current work with
ESPN, the state of Michigan
basketball and the recent happenings
*t icollege hoops.
Daily: Do you miss coaching?
Phelps: I don't miss coaching. I
enjoy what I do now more. I do a lot
of inner-city work for ESPN and I
find that very fulfilling.
D: Do you plan on ever returning
D: What are the rewards of
working for ESPN as opposed to
P: Now (as an analyst) you see
the game as a fan. As a coach, you
just have tunnel vision towards your
team. I now see the game from a
D: Do you prefer working in the
booth or in the studio?
P: The studio is the pentagon.
The booth is the battlefield. I feel that
you need both to get a full feel for
what tne season is.
D: Are you surprised by the
tremendous number of upsets so far
P: I just think a lot of teams
played many good teams early. But
this is good. It only makes March
D: What conferences do you think
are the strongest this year? What
about the Big Ten in particular?
P: Your strong teams are all
coming out of the ACC (Atlantic
Coast Conference). You also have to
take a look at what the west has in the
Pac-10. It is a strong conference with
the likes of UCLA, Arizona, and
Arizona State. The Big Eight is very
strong. The SEC (Southeastern
Conference) has four that are in there.
Arkansas is tough to beat. Kentucky
is very good. Mississippi State could
be a surprise. The Big 10 is just
down. They have a lot of good young
players. They should get six teams in
(the NCAA Tournament). If you
don't get good seeds though, you will
most likely get an early exit.
D: What do you think Michigan
has to do to get into the NCAAs?
P: They have to finish .500 for the
rest of the season and they will get in.
Again, the Big Ten should get six
teams in: Michigan State, Purdue,
Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and
D: How does Michigan compare
with other teams that have strong
freshman classes such as Duke and
P: These guys are no longer
freshman. They have already
completed their preseason games and
much of their conference games.
They are now sophomores but they
don't have to worry about (their
tough start). The younger players will
step up and play.
D: What could we expect from
Michigan's freshman class in the
P: Just leave these guys alone and
don't compare them to the Fab Five
and they will be all right.
M' athlete pioneered
sports and society
n honor of Black History Month, with the hope that someday there will
Ib e 12 instead of one.
Most people haven't heard of Moses Fleetwood Walker. He was the first
Black athlete at Michigan, and a section of the Margaret Dow Towsley Sports
Museum's baseball exhibit, in Schembechler Hall, is dedicated to him. But
those few lines don't do justice to this remarkable man.
Although he attracted attention as a Wolverine, Walker's real fame came
when he left Ann Arbor in 1883 for the major leagues. And unlike what some
trivia buffs might tell you, he was the first Black man there, too. Why does the
Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson get all the credit? The answer is as elusive
as the racial climate of Walker's time.
Historian C. Vann Woodward called it the "twilight zone." Sandwiched
between a past of slavery and a future of Jim Crow laws, the late 1880s was "a
time of experiment, testing, and uncertainty - quite different from the time
of repression and rigid uniformity that was to come toward the end of the
Enter Walker, who was raised in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio, by the first Black
doctor in that state. Walker started out at Oberlin College, where he played
baseball. (When he hit a home run, two doubles and a single in the opening,
contest, the college paper called his play "ubiquitous.") He also studied
everything from Latin and Greek to engineering.
Before graduating, he went on to Michigan, enrolling in the law school. He"
became one of only seven Black players to letter in baseball for Michigan
between the 1880s and 1972.
After two years at Michigan, Walker went on to Toledo of baseball's
American Association, then a major league team.
It appears that in some respects, Walker had an easier time than Robinson,
who came nearly 64 years after him. Walker was well-received by fans and
"earned rave reviews for his dauntless bare-handed catching and also for the
piano playing with which he unwound his teammates in hotel lobbies," wrote
Lonnie Wheeler in a 1993 issue of Ohio Magazine.
See BACHMAN, Page 7
Moses Fleetwood Walker (far left, seated) poses with Oberlin's 1881
baseball team. Walker was Michigan's first Black athlete. His brother
Weldy, who also played for the Wolverines, is second from right, back row.
NOTRE DAME SPORTS INFORMATION
Ukraine THE STATE UNNESIIV OF NEW JERSEY
for Educators RUTGERS
June 27 - July 16, 1995
Kiev, Ivano-Frankivske, Lviv, stop in Budapest
Visits to schools, colleges, agencies, cultural and
historical sites. Credit available.
Call Office of Continuing Education, Dr. David Muschinske, Executive
Director - 908.932-1640, x205 or x206; FAX 908-932-1640
Vofunteer Spirit Award
Five University of Michigan Winners
3 Students* .1 Faculty/Staff. * el1Alumnus
Two for Tuesday
Buy any footlong Sub and get
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(Print or type on a 8.5"x11" paper. Limit to ten or fewer volunteer activities.)
with the purchase of a medium drink
f - 1
A. Volunteer Activity
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F. Short Description of Your Experience
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