The Michigan Daily -
SPORTSMor'day - Monday, March 13, 1995-3
Piston center talks about his career
at Arkansas and in the NBA
After two seasons in Phoenix,
Oliver Miller signed as a free agent
with the Detroit Pistons back in Sep-
The 6-foot-9, 300-pound Miller
quickly workedhis way into the lineup
as the Pistons' starting center. The
highlight of his young career was
being a part of the Suns' 1993 NBA
Finals' team as a rookie. Phoenix
originally drafted Miller out of Ar-
kansas with the 22nd pick in the 1992
Recently, Daily Sports Writer Tim
Smith spoke to Miller about Arkan-
sas' chances in the NCAA Tourna-
ment, his time with the Pistons and
the,.possibility of Michael Jordan re-
turning to the league.
Daily: How do you like playing
for the Pistons so far?
Miller: It's real nice. We're a
young team - we're learning to-
gether, we're growing up together.
It's going to be rough at the begin-
ning, but we're going to be all right in
a couple of years. '
D: What do you think the Pistons'
prospects are for the rest of the sea-
M: Wejust have to keep our heads
up and keep going out there and play-
ing. If we just keep our heads up and
go out there and keep doing the things
we need to do, I think we can make it.
D: How do you like playing with
Grant Hill so far?
M: Grant's a real interesting per-
son. He's a rookie, but he plays like a
seven oreight-year veteran; like Scot-
tiePippen, Michael Jordan, guys like
that. I played against him once (in
college) and I watched him through
his college years. I'm really glad I'm
getting an opportunity to play with
D: Has the media attention he has
received been a distraction for the
team so far?
M: Not for me. I'm glad he's got
alflhe media attention. I really don't
like the media, so he can have them.
D: How does it feel to go from a
championship contender like the Suns
to a team that is struggling to make the
M: I'm just starting all over again.
Starting all over from the top. You
just have to be patient and I have
patience. Just keep doing whatever I
have to do to make the team be
D: Whatdid you think of your first
two years in Phoenix?
M: It was a learning experience
for me. There were a lot of veterans
and a lot of real interesting players.
Guys like Kevin (Johnson) and
Charles (Barkley) and A.C. (Green)
and those guys. I was glad to have the
opportunity to play with those guys
and I hope I learned something from
D: What are your impressions of
M: I can respect him for the things
he does on the court. Off the court, I
really don't know much about him.
I can't believe what I read and for
me to (focus on) what he does off the
court is really none of my business.
But on the court, he is a very good guy
and he's a great player. I respect him
D: Was there a big problem be-
again and win one.
D: What do you remember most
about that series?
M: When (John) Paxson hit that
shot at the end of game six to clinch
the series. I was on the bench, like
D: Michael Jordan is rumored to
be almost a sure bet to return to the
league. What do you think of his
performance in that series?
and play golf. I don't care. He's
another man. He puts his underwear
on just like I do. I respect his game.
I respect his talent, but hey, I'm not
going to sit up there and ride on him.
For him, hopefully this is the best
decision that he can make for him-
self or his family. He'll have to take
all that pressure on his back with the
D: Do you think his return put
the Bulls right up there with Phoe-
nix, Orlando and the Spurs? I
M: I don't think they're going to
get back where they were (two years
ago) right now. But next year they'll
probably be back where they were.
It's just that the man had a lot of
pressure on him at the time and he
wanted to get away from it.
I guess he feels he's had enough
rest and enough vacation and he's
ready to come back again.
D: Is he the best player you've
gone against in your NBA career, or
are there others you thought were
M: There are a lot of guys who
are really good. Michael's one of
them. I played against Hakeem.
There's a lot of guys out there with
a lot of talent and it's just hard to
pinpoint one guy who's been the
best, because you have a lot of guys
out there who have the potential to
be the best.
D: Is there anybody in the league
who you don't think gets the respect
and the attention he should?
M: Yeah, I'm underrated. I feel
I'm very underrated (laughing).
D: It's almost time for the NCAA
Tournament. Does it give you any
special feelings knowing that the
tournament is coming up?
M: Arkansas needs to go back
and get a gut check. They've got to
realize that everybody's after them,
and they can't come out playing (on
They've got to come out and
play ball like they did when they
won the championship. Just like us.
We've got to go out and play ball
like we know we can.
he Michigan cheerleading team is upset. You thought these people,
the ones you see bounding at football and basketball games, were all
smiles and spring-curled hair.
Give them competition, and they'll grind out a routine with the precise
ferocity of a logger splitting wood. Put them up against the nation's best,
and they might even snarl.
That's why the University Cheerleaders Association's omission of
Michigan from its national tournament hit so hard. Michigan finished 24th
nationally among Division I-A schools.
Trouble is, the UCA only accepts 22. That's why the notice went up
outside the cheerleaders' practice room at the Intramural Sports
"The general feedback was that the ... cheer, chant, and fight song did
not show the level of difficulty expected in a Division I-A entry (video)
tape," third-year Wolverine coach Michael Johnson wrote.
Said team member Jayson Terres: "It's frustrating when you go from
being one of the top 10 teams in the nation (Michigan was ninth in the
NCAA's competition in 1994) to not making it a year later."
But one person's futility is another's fresh start.
Tuesday night, around 30 hopefuls showed up at the IM building to try
out for next year's squad. By March 26, when the final tryouts are held,
close to 100 will have flipped, kicked and tucked for a spot on the team.
Between 20 and 24 will make it.
The lucky ones who do, however, will not find that their challenges end
there. Perhaps their greatest obstacle is the apathy they'll face at Michigan
Stadium and Crisler Arena.
"The fans won't cheer," Johnson says. "We have to teach them what we
want them to do. We'd love to be at Duke or Kentucky for basketball
games. That's the type of crowd you like."
Still, Johnson accepts the challenge of stirring students who are
skeptical of activities that don't involve their grade point averages or
"It doesn't matter if the fans don't follow. They have the latitude not to
follow. We don't have the latitude not to try to lead."
To bolster his attack on lethargic fans, Johnson does what Gary Moeller
and Steve Fisher do - he recruits.
Traveling to the national high school cheerleading championships in
Orlando (you've seen them on ESPN), he tries to lure athletes from the
likes of Kentucky and North Carolina, traditional powerhouses.
His Michigan sales pitch is short, though. Even before he started
promoting the program, Johnson received 1,000 calls a year inquiring about
It's the first year he's recruited, and already Johnson has commitments
from several state champion tumblers.
He's banking on the improvement in incoming talent, along with raised
skill standards (cheerleaders must now do a standing back tuck along with:
last year's requirement, a standing back handspring), to boost the
Wolverines into the nation's top three.
What else does it take to make it as a cheerleader?
"We want kids who, when Michigan loses, will be depressed for a
That, 20 hours of workouts, and weightlifting every other day.
You were expecting lip gloss and dimples?
DETROIT PISTONS MEDIA RELATIONS
tween you two?
M: No. He always gave me ad-
vice but, like I said, it was a learning
experience playing with a guy like
that and I'm just glad I had the
opportunity to play with him.
D: How was it for you playing in
the championship series as a rookie?
M: It was real nice being able to
play in the championship (series).
Even though we were close to win-
ning but (lost), it was real nice.
Hopefully I'll get the opportunity
M: Jordan was the guy that made
the calls. If you've got a guy like
that on the team, you're almost guar-
anteed to win a championship.
I wish I had the opportunity to
play with him. He's a really great
D: What do you think of the
prospect of Jordan coming back af-
ter a year-and-a-half layoff from the
M: I don't care. He can come
back, stay and play baseball or go
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