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September 03, 1996 - Image 72

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-03

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6F - New Student Edition - The Michigan Daily - September 3, 1996

BASKETBALL

MICHAEL
SROSENBERG
i Roses Are
Read

INAL

RUSTRAT

Timeout
s/houldn'7
haunt
Baston
"Maceo had everyone believing we
were going to Dallas."
- Michigan men 's basketball coach
Steve Fisher after the regular season,
on the Wolverines 'speculation about
where they might play in the 1996
x. NCAA tournament.
.MILWAUKEE - It would
have been nice for Maceo
Baston. He would have gone
home to Dallas, played in front of his
family, introduced his teammates to
his friends back home. He would
show the Wolverines around his
hometown. They would have had a
tgood time in Dallas.
A week later, Baston probably did-
n't even want to go there himself.
With 3.2 seconds left in Michigan's
first-round game against Texas on
-March 15, Baston called a timeout his
team didn't have, and as his hands
came together the Wolverines'
chances came crumbling gpart.
The sound of the referee's whistle
Twas immediate and final. Technical
-foul, Michigan. Two free throws,
Texas. The Longhorns nailed them
both. Boom, boom. End of season,
Michigan. Texas moved on. Baston
was moved to tears.
"I didn't know we didn't have any
left," Baston said. "When I heard my
teammates saying 'No! No!' my heart
just dropped."
Suddenly, a trip back to Dallas
holds different connotations. Maceo
Baston must hear about the timeout
from high school friends, from Texas
fans, from almost everybody. All he
did was make a mistake, but when
you make a mistake on national tele-
vision, you're not allowed to forget.
Baston stayed on the court for the
final 3.2 seconds, unable to stop
crying.
He is reminded of his mistake con-
stantly. People joke about his error,
laugh at his expense. Maceo Baston,
six feet and nine inches of determina-
tion, reduced to a punchline.
It's important to remember two
things here. Michigan almost certain-
ly would have lost if Baston hadn't
called timeout. And the Wolverines
never would have been close to win-
ning if Baston hadn't played. Baston
scored 23 points and grabbed 15
rebounds. He was virtually unstop-
pable.
"Maceo had a terrific, terrific
game," Fisher said.
Maceo Baston almost won the
.game for his team. In the dim mind of
some sports fans, he lost it. It's not
fair. That doesn't seem to matter.
"I told him not to worry about it'
forward Maurice Taylor said. "We
didn't want to turn our back on a
teammate because of a mistake. It
was a mistake anyone could make."
It was a mistake anyone could
make. Michigan fans know that all
too well. Three years ago, the best
playerin the Wolverines' recent histo-
ry made the same mistake in the
national title game.
"We got the ball," Chris Webber
said afterrhis team lost to North Car-

olina, trying to piece together the five
seconds he would remember for the
rest of his life, "and I dribbled, and
then ... I cost our team the game."
Call it fate or coincidence, but
Webber has been a different person
since his timeout. Before that loss, he
was an All-American, a player with
seemingly limitless potential, a star
who was achieving so much so early
it was stunning. He was virtually
unstoppable.
Today, he has become almost a
tragic figure. His feud with coach
Don Nelson at Golden State has tar-
nished his reputation. His shoulder
keeps separating. He has been sent to
the sidelines while contemporaries of
similar talent have exceeded him in
stature. Grant Hill has surpassed
Webber in popularity, even in Web-
ber's home state. His Fab Five and
Washington Bullet teammate Juwan
Howard is an NBA All-Star.

Basketball looks to rebound from 1996's early exit .

By Barry Soll-nbergr
Daily Sports Editor
The 1995-96 season was a disappointing one for
the Michigan men's basketball team.
Sure the Wolverines won 20 games (they went
20-12).
Sure they beat Duke (for the first time since
1989).
Sure they pounded rival Michigan State twice
(76-54 in East Lansing and 75-46 in Ann Arbor).
But in the end, Michigan didn't really show much
improvement from the 1994-95 team that went 17-
14 and lost to Western Kentucky in the NCAA tour-
nament's first round. Last season, the Wolverines
made another early NCAA exit when Texas
bounced them, 80-76, in the opening round.
A year ago, Michigan was consistently inconsis-
tent. The Wolverines struggled all season from the
field, shooting 42 percent as a team. They were also
lacking in another important area - stars.
Sophomore Maurice Taylor was the team's best
player, but his numbers (13.3 points and 7.0
rebounds per game) were hardly frightening.
Sophomore Louis Bullock (12.9 ppg) emerged as
one of the league's top rookies, but a late slump
knocked his field goal percentage down to 36 per-
cent for the year. Sophomore Maceo Baston's num-
bers (10.8 points and 6.6 boards per game) were

solid, but not Olajuwonesque.
The Wolverines also had the unfortunate habit of
throwing the ball into the stands. Michigan turned
the ball over 528 times on the season, many of
which came at critical times.
That all added up to a 10-8 Big Ten record and
fifth-place finish in the league. At the preseason
Big Ten basketball banquet, the Wolverines were
picked to finish second in the conference.
"I was disappointed with our performance in the
league," Michigan coach Steve Fisher said. "The
freshmen and sophomores played like freshmen and
sophomores."
The Wolverines began the season by winning
home games over DePaul and Weber State in the
preseason NIT.
From there, it was off to New York for the NIT
semifinals where Michigan was boxed by Arizona
and then dropped in the third-place game to Geor-
gia Tech. The Wolverines have now lost to the Wild-
cats in each of the past three seasons.
After the 2-2 start, Michigan won seven straight
nonconference matchups, including an emotional
88-84 affair over Duke on Dec. 9 at Crisler Arena.
"It was a nice win for us," Fisher said. "They
were playing exceptionally well, and we beat a team
that, at the time, looked like it might contend for
the ACC title. We had not fared well against

them in the past, and to be able to beat them, final-.
ly, meant a lot."
The Wolverines began the Big Ten season with a
51-46 loss at Wisconsin, a game in which they
scored 17 points in the second
half. Fisher's bunch recovered,
though, to win its next four con- Was
tests.
Taylor's dunk in the waning disapp
seconds against Penn State on
Jan. 21 at Crisler gave Michigan with out
a 67-66 victory and a share of
the conference lead. perform,
Unfortunately for the Wolver-
ines, that Sunday afternoon the leag
marked the high point of their
season.
Michigan proceeded to drop Men's bask(
three straight, including an 80-
59 laugher to eventual Big Ten
champion Purdue at home Jan. 31. The Wolverines
never threatened in the conference race after that.
On Feb. 17, five Wolverines were involved in an
incident that made the team's basketball
woes seem trivial. Driving back
fromDetroit, Taylor,
Bullock, Ron Oliv-
er, Willie Mitchell

ra
is
et

and Robert Traylor flipped and rolled several times
in Taylor's Ford Explorer in a single-car accident.
Traylor sustained the only serious injury in the acci-
dent (a broken arm), but was lost for the season.
A 4-1 finish to the regular sea-
son secured Michigan its fifth
straight NCAA appearance, but the
loss to Texas left a yucky taste4
"ted the mouths of Wolverine faithful.
Still, the 1996-97 season has the
potential to be great for Michigan.
Fisher welcomes back seven of
3nla inl 10 scholarship players from a year
ago. Only the graduated Dugan
Wes Fife and Neil Morton and junior
Willie Mitchell (who transferred to
teve Fisher Alabama-Birmingham last spring)
tbaI I coach won't return. Fisher has also add
6-foot-11 freshman Peter Vigr
and junior college transfer Brandon
Hughes. Hughes figures to compete with junior
Travis Conlan for the starting point guard position.
The Wolverines should challenge for the Big Ten
title, but that is nothing new. They are in the hunt for
the league crown more often than not. What would
be new would be for Michigan to win it.
The Wolverines have not won the Big Ten.since
1986.

Sophomore guard
Louis Bullock.
>:;: File photo

Texas played
strongrer,

4-

By Barry Sollenberger .
Daily Sports Editor
The layup drill.
It's one the Michigan men's basketball team
has done a thousand times.
Before games, coach Steve Fisher might give
the familiar yell, "All right ... two lines ...
layups!" and everyone will file into position. A
drill as old as the game itself.;
In fact, the routine has become such habit that tea,.:
Fisher probably doesn't even need to tell his team
what to do. Every Wolverine does the drill the same.
With one exception - sophomore Louis Bullock. k
At first glance, his pregame warm-up does not appear to w
differ from anybody else's routine.
But it does.
You see, the hand-slap is also an important part of the layup'
drill. After the players make their layup, they generally give
everyone five as they get back in line.
Bullock, too, always slaps. But he does it only with his left hand..
His right hand - his shooting hand, the hand that got him here
- remains untouched.
I must have started doing it back in the sixth grade," Bullock said.
"I got that from one of the guys who used to come into the gym. I used
to try to do everything that he did."
So what's the guy's name? Pause.
"Uh ... Danny ... Danny Bird," Bullock said.
Bullock no longer keeps in touch with Bird, but the habit has stuck.
"That's something that was always ... like a 'Why are you doing it?'
sort of thing," said Joseph Childress, the cousin of the Portland Trail Blaz-
ers' Randolph Childress, and Bullock's best friend since the two were high
school teammates at The Canterbury School in Accokeek, Md. "He'll
even reach across his body to smack your hand, instead of letting you
touch his shooting hand."
As silly as this superstition may seem, you can bet no current Wolver-
ine wants to violate it. After all, the owner of that right hand is Michigan's
best outside shooting threat.
Michigan coach Steve Fisher doesn't get carried away when talking
about his sophomore guard.
"Louis Bullock can shoot the basketball," Fisher likes to say about three
times a press conference. And while Fisher doesn't rival a professor in
terms of eloquence, his favorite Bullock quote tells the story.
The 19-year-old can indeed shoot the basketball.
He finished the 1995-96 season among the Big Ten leaders in free-
throw shooting and 3-pointers per game. His 70 3-pointers a year ago
places him fourth on the school's all-time season list.
"Louis has done a nice job of coming in and quietly, yet effectively,
establishing his own niche," Fisher said. "Right now, he's a scorer. A guy
that if you leave open, he's going to score, and people know that."
Bullock didn't become a shooter the day he stepped on campus, though.
He has been working on his touch ever since he was about three years old.
"Every time we would go to the toy store, I would ask him what he
wanted," Bullock's mother Mary said. "He would always find one of those
little nets and a little softball.
"So we had one of those (nets) downstairs ... and in the bed-
room ... and we put them up in different places. That's really
the way he entertained himself since he was three years old"
He has been burning the nets ever since.
As a junior at Canterbury, he was named all-state
after averaging 26.5 points per game on 55 percent shoot-
ing from the floor and 86 percent shooting from the line.
He then transferred to Laurel Baptist for his senior season

harder - longer
By Brent McIntosh
Daily Sports Writer ^"
MILWAUKEE - It started with a bang. It ended 4$th a
whimper.
It started with four Michigan dunks. It ended wii the
Wolverines dazily searching for shelter somewhere in th glar-
ing lights of the Bradley Center. They could only wak as
Texas' Brandy Perryman knocked in two free throws to lce the
Longhorns' 80-76 win - sending the Wolverines home in the
first round of the NCAA tournament for the second consecu-
tive year.
Between the opening bang and the closing whimper,*'
Wolverines played hard, if not smart,
against a quicker Texas squad. That was
probably most true of Maceo Baston.
The center was magnificent: 23
points on 9-of-12 shooting and 15
rebounds despite picking up his fourth
foul with 12:49 left on the clock.
"He had an outstanding game" cap-
tain Dugan Fife said. "He got in a little
foul trouble early, but when he was in
there, he dominated.
"He was a man among boys out
there. He got his hands on every Baston
rebound. He has nothing to be
ashamed of."
You couldn't tell that from looking at Baston after the game.
After calling an unavailable timeout with 3.2 seconds left and
the Wolverines down two - drawing a technical foul nd
painfully evoking memories of Chris Webber in the NCAA
final three years back - Baston could do nothing butfor-
lornly hold his head in his hands.
"We called timeout the past two times down," he said
thought I heard someone calling for it. I just called it - it was
my fault."
Regardless, the Wolverines probably wouldn't have won. That
was assured late in the first half and early in the second, when
the quicker Texas guards victimized Michigan's Travis Conlan.
"I had quite a few costly turnovers that hurt the team," Con-
lan said. "I'm the point guard and I have the ball - I feel bad
because I let the team
down." -ol
Conlan had five "Te ol 'time
turnovers, including a cru-
cial one with the Wolverines
down 62-60. Texas' Reggie took e fet . "
Freeman swiped the ball
from Conlan and collided - Steve Fisher
with him on the ensuing Men's basketball coach
layup. The referee judged
the crash to be a blocking
foul on Conlan, the shot
dropped, and Freeman's free throw put the Longhorns upfi.e.
That play was a microcosm of the game for Conlan: pas-
sionate play, poor choices.
"Travis is a fierce competitor, and he fought hard," Mic-
gan coach Steve Fisher said. "But he'll probably tell you, this
wasn't one of his better games."
The Wolverines had come charging back from various sec-
ond-half deficits behind tough play from guard Louis Bullock,
but their fate was just about sealed with a minute on the clock.
At that point, the Michigan full-court press forced the Long-
horns into a 10-second violation - one that wasn't called.
Albert White was forced to foul Freeman, and Freeman nailed
both of his free throws on the way to a 22-point effort. The
Longhorns led, 76-70.
Bullock went on a scoring binge in that last minute, but his
every offering was met with a pair of made free throws frm
the Longhorns. His driving layup immediately before Baston's
ill-advised timeout cut the lead to a pair, but any Wolverine
hopes at that point were dim. Michigan would have had to foul
immediately, then hope the Texas player would miss his free

an open look, he shoots it the same way he did (two years) ago."
When it came time for Bullock to choose a college, his short list includ-
ed Florida, Maryland and Michigan. Bullock eliminated the Terrapins
because he would have ridden the bench last season behind an experienced
senior backcourt.
That left Florida and Michigan.
And mom knew where she wanted him to go.
"I did like Florida, myself," Mary Bullock said. "I really wanted him
to go to Florida. That was my choice. But I wouldn't let on until he made
his decision."
On his recruiting trip to Michigan, Bullock was so sold on the school
he was ready to commit to Fisher right then. Enter mom.
"He almost didn't even want to make the other visits," she said. "But I
told him that he should. I said that, 'I'm still not going to make up your
mind for you, but if it were my choice, I would go to Florida.' I guess I
was thinking about the warmer climate."
Fisher can be thankful Michigan's weather didn't affect Bullock's decision.
Bullock signed a letter of intent with the Wolverines in December 1994.
His mom thinks he was a Michigan man before then - two years earlier.
"I asked Louis in ... I think it was the 10th grade," she said. "I said,
'Louis, if you should go away to school and play basketball, who would
you want to play for?' He said, 'Well, you know, I would love to go to
Michigan and help the Wolverines out a little bit."'
He's helped Michigan more than a little bit.
"He's very confident and unafraid and I like that about him," Fisher
said. "He steps to the free throw line and you're shocked if he doesn't
make it. To be able to shoot the ball the way he does,.that's not a
dimension that many kids have."
It's tough to argue with Fisher.
But Bullock's game still needs improve-
ment. "There have been times ... where I've
missed some shots I've been accustomed to

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