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January 10, 1996 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-01-10

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Wolverines could be great

The Michigan Daily - SPORTSWednesday - Wednesday, January 10, 1996 - 3B
but don't bet the farm

White on Target
tche bowls:
hiow about
those Tost os?
Wu lell, n its first year of
existence, the Bowl
Alliance succeeded in
creating a Fiesta Bowl showdown
between the top two college football
a ms in the country.
It was a matchup guaranteed to go
down in the annals of college
Now that the game is over and
.done with, I think there is one image
that we'll all remember most from the
Jan. 2 clash between No. I Nebraska
and No. 2 Florida - the Tostitos
Tostitos commercials, Tostitos
replays, Tostitos ball boys, even a
stitos press box. I wouldn't be
surprised if the entire city of Tempe,
Ariz. were painted like a chip for the
A quick count of the Tostitos'
logos on the players, the stadium, the
field and television totaled approxi-
mately 1.5 million. Which, inciden-
tally, is just slightly larger than the
number of points by which the
Cornhuskers beat the Gators.
* Nebraska's 62-24 win over Florida
was such a blowout, that by the time
the Gators' Fun n' Gun offensive
attack made it to the playground,
recess was over.
It was hardly what was expected
after eight days of hype during which
-players answered every possible
question, about every possible topic.
A few questions were even about the
It wasn't just the Fiesta Bowl,
No. 15 Penn State faced No. 16
Auburn in the Outback (Steakhouse)
bowl. No. 15 vs. No. 16? Great game,
right? Wrong. The Nittany Lions beat
the Tigers by something like 13,000
in the rain and slop of Tampa
In the (Nokia) Sugar Bowl,
Virginia Tech pulled away from
xas for a 18-point, 28-10 win.
'In fact, the best story to come out
of the Sugar Bowl was that of
Longhorn defensive back Ron
McKelvy. McKelvy, who Texas
coaches thought was a 23-year-old
transfer student, was actually 30-
year-old Ron Weaver who had played
sit seasons of junior college football
at two schools in California, and had
used up his collegiate eligibility.
After McKelvy/Weaver, you have
Wwonder if that was actually Florida
on the field against Nebraska or a
bunch of 70-year-olds with forged
names and social security numbers.
)olorado cooked the Ducks of
Oregon in the Cotton Bowl, and in
the (pick a car manufacturer, it's
different every year) Gator Bowl, an
utranked Syracuse team crushed No.
23 Clemson 41-0.
r Four other bowls, the Aloha, Sun,
dependence and Holiday, were
decided by a combined score of 188-
Lots of hype, lots of sponsors, but

as usual not much to the games.
Two of the best games on New
Year's Day were the Orange Bowl,
between Notre Dame and Florida
State, and the Rose Bowl, which
featured Northwestern and Southern
0 There was no corporate sponsor-
shp for either game. Was that a
coincidence? Absolutely, but ironic
Perhaps Texas A&M coach R.C.
Slocum had the best idea the day
be'ore the (Builders Square) Alamo
:'I've always thought that teams
shpuld come in and play the game on
e second day," said Slocum, whose
e. 19 Aggies' 22-20 win over No.
1(Michigan was one of the few
exciting games. "We should say the
team that wins gets to stay for a week
and enjoy itself. The loser has to go
The trip wouldn't be nearly as nice

By Paul Barger
Daily Sports Writer
In a season filled with disappointment
and erratic play, last night's dominating
victory over Illinois was significantin the
Michigan men's basketball team's quest
for a Big Ten title.
The team was incredibly inconsistent
during the first part of the season and after
last Wednesday's loss to Wisconsin, it
appeared that the Wolverines would beas
mediocre as they were last year.
During the 1994-95 season, Michigan
got into a rut in which the squad would
have an inspired win followed by a disap-
pointing and frustrating loss.
A loss to the Illini, playing without
their star, Kiwane Garris, would have
given the Wolverines three games in six
games against a relatively easy schedule.
But Michigan was all business last

night, showing the same confidence and
talent that helped it embarrass North-
western Saturday.
Steve Fisher is finally getting leader-
ship and produc-
tion from his se-
nior captain,
Dugan Fife. Intwo
games, Fife has
been aggressive
and confident on
both ends of the
floor. The guard is
* - alegitimate offen-
sive threat for the
first time in four years.
"He's making us a lot better," fresh-
man Louis Bullock said. "It now gives us
another offensive weapon. He's starting
to take the ball strong to the basket and he

has always been an excellent defender.
We followhimbecause ofhisplaylately."
Fife's emergence may be the spark the
squad needs to make a run at the confer-
ence championship. With the loss ofJerod
Ward to a knee injury, each Michigan
player has to step up.
Finally, it seems that Fife andhis team-
mates are willing to give the extra effort
and play up to their capabilities.
There are, however, lingering ques-
tions about how the team will playthe rest
of the season. The Big Ten is simply not
what it used to be, and the Wolverines
have more raw talent than any team in the
The victory over Illinois was impres-
sive, but nothing to get overly excited
about. If Michigan wants to be a legiti-
mate contender for the Big Ten title, it has
to win its home games.

"In this league it's going to be tough to
win on the road," Fisher said. "That's
why it's so critical to defend the home
The Wolverines played with an atti-
tude during the second half last night that
hasbeen missing forayear and ahalf. The
fire is back; now Fisher has to find a way
to sustain it.
Michigan once again looks like it has
the makings of a very good team. But it
seems that with this group of players,
whenever they have a stretch where they
look good, they follow it by looking very
There is not a team on the schedule that
the Wolverines cannot beat. That is, if the
Michigan squad that beat Illinois shows
up, not the team that was horrendous
against UNLV and Wisconsin.
The only thing truly keeping the squad

MOver the Break
Ten test
By Brent Mcintosh
Daily Sports Editor
When mid-December rolled around
and classes finally ended, most Michigan
students faced four or five tests.
The Michigan basketball team had
The day after classes ended, the Wol-
verines started off their exam schedule
with Duke, a test Michigan coach Steve
Fisher's pupils had failed for the past six
years; then they took on Washington and
Cleveland State at Crisler Arena before
heading to Las Vegas to play UNLV and
Davidson. Wisconsin, Northwestern and
Illinois - the beginning of the Big Ten
season andconsequently Michigan'smost
important tests - rounded off the Wol-
verines' so-called "break."
And how did the Wolverines fare on
their tests? Here's the report card ...
MICHIGAN 88, DuiE 84
The Wolverines finally broke the Blue
Devils' six-year stranglehold, grabbing
an emotional victory in what Duke coach
Mike Krzyzewski called "just great col-
lege basketball."
Michigan survived torrid shooting by
Blue Devil Chris Collins, who led all
scorers with 27 points. But the senior
guard's most important shot was blocked
by Maceo Baston with Duke down three
in the closing seconds.
"Maceo Baston isjustso long," Collins
said. "I didn't think he could get to it."
Baston did get to it, though, and he
scored 26 points of his own, hauled down
nine rebounds, and iced the game with a
foul shot with seven seconds left.
Solid guard play on both ends of the
court keyed Michigan's victory, as did a
23-pointperformance from Maurice Tay-
Despite a lackluster performance, the
Wolverines ran their record to 8-2 when
Baston continued his crunch-time hero-
ics by blocking a potential game-winner
in the Huskies' final possession.
"Maceo once again stepped up and
made the huge play to preserve the win,"
Fisher said.
Baston had 23 points and 10 rebounds,
but the game was a disappointment for a
better Michigan squad. Only one other
Wolverine scored in double figures against
a mediocre Washington team; that was
freshman guard Louis Bullock, with 10
despite a bruised foot. A similar injury
kept freshman Robert Traylor in street
Worse for the Wolverines, sophomore
forward Jerod Ward went down early in
the second half with a knee injury; he will

Continued from Page 18
Midway through the first half, the
Wolverines appeared to take control
after a thunderous Baston jam off a
Taylor miss. Michigan enjoyed its big-
gest lead to that point, 27-21, with 6:43
left until intermission.
But then, like a scud missile, foul
trouble hit.
Baston picked up his third foul with
5:51 left in the half and then Taylor was
whistled for his second and third fouls
in a matter of 12 seconds. With those
two out, the Wolverines went from
dominating the Illini on the boards to
being dominated themselves.
And their six-point lead fanished like
Casper the Friendly Ghost.
Illinois went on a 17-3 run, capped by
Richard Keene's 3-pointer to lead, 38-
30, with 2:18 until halftime.
But then the Wolverines got a break
because Keene lost his head.
After a Traylor lay-in, Keene was
called for setting an illegal pick on
Michigan's Dugan Fife. Instead ofyour
normal screen, Keene tried to steamroll
Fife. For his efforts, he was slapped
with an intentional foul and Fife made
the two penalty shots at the other end.
The flagrant foul gave Michigan the
momentum it needed to close the defi-
cit to one at the half.
"From my perspective, I thought the
key for us was the way we finished the
half," Fisher said. "Dugan Fife really
keyed the last few minutes to help us get
are not as good
without (Kiwane
- Steve Fisher
Michigan basketball coach

in the hunt for the Big Ten title is the la
of quality teams in the conference.
course, as many around the country sa
last year, the Wolverines could be a sofld
team come March. But to accompli W
that, they have to keep their new-found
confidence and find some consistency.
The recent trend would seem to indi-
cate that Michigan will walk into the
Breslin Center Saturday and walk o
with a loss to arch-rival Michigan State
The Spartans should not be able to
hang with the stronger, quicker, more
talented Wolverines. A win would stamp
Michigan as a conference favorite and
would give the team at least some cred<
ibility in the national picture. A loss, arl
it could be another season filled witl
frustration and missed opportunities.
in trailing by only one."
For the game, Fife contributed hI
points and was 7-for-7 from the free:
throw line. The senior guard appears t.
be growing into his role as a sub. He had
a streak of65 consecutive starts snapped
Nov. 22 against Arizona and has since
been relegated to a backup role. ;1
"Dugan is a winner," Fisher said.
"He's what you want as your captain. If
you had to pick an MVP for this game,
he would be my pick."
Fife's free throw success seemed to
wear off on the rest of the Wolverines,
who made 21-of-28 (.750) shots from
the charity stripe on the evening. Coni
ing in, Michigan was shooting just 59
6 percent from the line as a team.
Gee 20 34 03 2-4 0 4 6
Notree 24 58 1-4 67 1 2 11
Gandy 26 38 36 1-4 0 3 9
Heldman 23 2-7 2-2 00 1 3 6
Keene 30 2-9 0-0 02 6 2 5
Turner 26 6-14 0-01 0 2 1
Robisch 12 2-6 0-0 2-2 0 4 4
Backwell 15 26 3-4 2-3 2 3 7
Hester 21 2-5 00 33 0 1 4
Johnson 3 0-0 00 0-000 0
Team 00 2-7
Totals 200 2767 9-19 18-33 1024 8
FG%: .403. FT%:.474. Three-poInt goals: 515,
.333 (Turner 4-6, Keene 1-5, Gandy 01,
Heldman 0-1, Hester 0-1, Robisch 0-1). Blocks:
2 (Gee, Hedman). Turnovers: 12 (Keene 4,
Hester 2, Notree 2, Gee, Gandy, Robisch,
Blackwell). Steals: 3 (Keene, Blackwell,
Hester). Technical Fouls: none.
Taylor 26 7-11 3-5 4-8 0 3 17
White 21 2-7 00 04 1 3 5
Baston 24 34 7-8 36 2 4 13
Bullock 31 3-8 1-2 0-0 0 3 9
Conlan 33 1-4 12 0-5 10 0 3
Mitchell 20 3-10 0-0 1-2 1 1 7
Traylor 22 8-11 2-4 611 0 4 1&
Fife 18 2-3 7-7 1-4 0 2 11
Morton 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Oliver 1 0-0 0-0 00 0 0 a
DeKuiper 1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0
Szyndlar 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals200295921-28174514 2083 F0/4
.492. FT%: .750. Three-point goals: 4-11,364
(Bullock 2-5, White 1-2, Mitchell 1-2, Conlan 0-
2). Blocks: 2 (Traylor, Oliver) Turnovers: 17
(Taylor 5, White 3, Baston 2, Conlan 2, Mitchell
2, Bullock, Fife, Tralor. Steals: 5 (Taylor,
Baston, Mitchell, Traylor, Fife). Technical Fouls:
Illinos ............40 28- 68
Michigan .................. 39 44 -
At:: Crisler Arena; A:13,562
If the Wolverines could play as we
every game as they did in blitzing to a5O
22 intermission lead over Northwester
they would be national champions in I
heartbeat. Of course, if every game werg
against the Wildcats, Michigan wouldnt
lose much.
Mitchell returned to the lineup aftt
December surgery and scored 13; th
Wolverines used a balanced effort t
embarrass coach Ricky Byrdsong'sWildt
cats. Baston and Taylor scored 15 and
respectively, and each had eight boardk
and Conlan had 10 assists.
"They really felt like they had some
thing to prove," Byrdsong said.
The highlight of the game for many
fans was the descentofTraylor's shorts t
his knees during a rebounding melee; the

300-pounder had 10 rebounds despite hi
-Coverage ofyesterday's Michigan-
Illinois game begins on Page 1B,.

Maurice Taylor rides Northwestern's Dan Kreft during Michigan's 83-51 victory.

miss the rest of the season due to a torn
anterior cruciate ligament.
Michigan's injury woes meant that se-
nior guard Dugan Fife and former-walk-
on swingman Neal Morton had to fill in at
small forward for much of the game, but
the Wolverines blew out an overmatched
Cleveland State team anyway.
The Vikings were unable to contain
Michigan freshman forward Albert White,
who seemed to be everywhere in his 26
minutes, coming off the bench to score 21
points and grab 10 boards.
"White didn't surprise me," Viking
coach and former Fisher assistant Mike
Boyd said. "They've got five or six all-
Americans out there."
Taylor, Baston, Fife and Bullock all
scored in double figures and sophomore
guard Travis Conlar added 10 assists for

With Ward and Willie Mitchell out,
and Traylor playing hurt, the Wolver-
ines went to Las Vegas with only six
healthy scholarship players - and it
showed: they looked lethargic in losing
to a frenzied Nevada-Las Vegas squad.
White scored 19, while Baston had 13
to go along with 12 rebounds, but Michi-
gan was unable to get offa shot in the last
15 seconds that could have tied or won
the game.,
Conlan's misdirected pass to Baston
with 1.4 seconds left secured the Run-
ning Rebels'victory. Neitherhe nor Fife
scored in the game.
The Wolverines ledby nine at the half
in this contest against a clearly inferior
Davidson team that shot 2-21 from be-
hind the arc.
Taylor led Michigan with 19 points
on 9-for-14 shooting. Baston and Traylor
scored 12 and nine respectively, but

both fouled out; Bullock contributed 15
points on 9-for-9 free throw shooting and
had Wolverine highs of eight rebounds
and four assists.
The Wolverines lost their Big Ten
openerby shooting an anemic 16-47 from
the floor, including only three of 18 sec-
ond half field goal attempts.
"Going to Wisconsin and not winning
is not as disappointing as the way we
lost," Fisher said. "We had a chance to
That chance came because the Wolver-
ines held the Badgers to 19 first half
points; it disappeared when Bullock, who
led Michigan with 13, missed a three-
point attempt that would have tied the
game at 49. Wisconsin's Sam Okee got
an uncontested dunk to clinch the upset.

Big Ton Standings

1. Penn State
2. Michigan State
3. Purdue
4. Michigan
5. Iowa
6. Minnesota
8. Indiana
9. Northwestern
10. Ohio State
11. Illinois



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