The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - February 17, 1997 - 38
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Former Michigan star talks about life in the
= With three seconds left on the
hock and Michigan trailing by one
in the 1989 NCAA championship
game, Michigan guard Rumeal
-Robinson stepped up to the free-
With millions of eyes on him and
he Wolverines' national champi-
ship chances in his hands, he cool-
ly sank both free throws to capture
Michigan's first-ever NCAA champi-
An All-American during his senior
season in 1989-90, Robinson was a
three-year starter for the Wolverines
He was a consensus 1990 All-Big
Ten selection as well as a finalist for
e 1990 Pete Maravich and John
.ooden Awards. But in the hearts of
Michigan fans, Robinson will always
be remembered for the free throws he
sank to bring the title to Ann Arbor.
-Robinson was drafted 10th overall
in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Atlanta
Hawks. He has spent time with six
different NBA teams, as well as three
teams in the CBA over the past seven
seasons. Of those NBA teams, one
was the Portland Trailblazers, where
was coached by RJ. Carlesimo,
the coach of the Seton Hall team
Robinson iced in the 1989 final. On
Friday, Robinson was released again
from an NBA team - this time by the
Daily Sports Writer Jordan Field
* recently had the opportunity to speak
with Robinson about his days at
Michigan, and his experiences in
both the NBA and CBA.
DAILY: Have you followed
Michigan basketball since graduat-
somewhat. I try to
catch some games
here and there.
Back when (Chris)
Webber and those
guys were there, I
watched a bunch of
games. Now they
have all those big:
guys, so hopefully
they can do some-
thing this year. I
missed (the second)
because we were on
the road in Toronto,
but I catch a game
whenever I can.
D: Have you been back to Ann
Arbor since graduating? Have you
had a chance to see a game while
you've been in town?
R: No, well, because our seasons
conflict, I'm kind of trapped if I
wanted to see a game. But I've made
it back since leaving. I still have a lot
of friends up in Ann Arbor, so I try to
keep in touch with them as well as I
D: How do you think the college
game has changed since you left?
R: It's different. I think it's a much
younger game that it was before. You
don't have seniors as much anymore,
and you have to play with what you
D: Aside from the championship
in 1989, what are your best memo-
ries from your years
R: The best times
were definitely hang-
ing out with the team
or hanging out with
friends. We used to
hang out at Rick's -
we always had fun
I guess just being
with my friends
down there, living
the college life, are
the best memories.
D: Looking back at
season in 1988-89,
what was the team's
reaction when coach Bill Frieder left
and Steve Fisher took over?
R: I think it was sad. A lot of guys
were close to Frieder, and they didn't
want to see him leave.
But on the other hand, you had to
understand what was best for him. I
think it caused a lot of stress for
some of the younger guys when he
left, because they were used to him
and wanted him to be their coach.
But I think most people could under-
stand where he was coming from in
making the decision he did.
D: Can you remember what you
were thinking as you stepped up to
the free-throw line against Seton
Hall in the final?
R: I was thinking to myself, "Just
make the shots, just make the shots."
And basically I was thinking, "This
is it, we could win the national
D: At that point in the game, going
to shoot those free throws to win or
lose the game, were you happy it was
you up there, or were you wishing it
was on someone else's shoulders?
R: At that point in the game I
never thought about it that way. It
was just during the course of the
game, and I was the point guard.
At that time we had agreed that I
would get the ball and if it got down
to a crucial time, I would take the
ball to the basket. So that was what I
was trying to do that play.
D: Many of your teammates from
that team moved on with you to play
in the NBA. How are your relation-
ships with those guys, as well as the
ones who are not in the league?
R: I think we all respect each other at
this level. We see each other on the
court and whenever we have time we try
to spend some time with each other off
the floor. After spending four years with
someone, friendships don't go away
that easy. We still like being around
each other. I'm sure we all root for one
another to do well, but like tonight, as
we played against (former teammate
and current Piston) Terry (Mills), I want
him to play well, but obviously I want to
D: Not only have you run into your
old teammates at this level, but also
former rival coach P.J. Carlesimo,
who was your coach in Portland.
How was your relationship with him
while you were there?
R: It was different. But he was a real
nice guy. I liked being around P.J.
Sometimes we would talk about
the game, and his old assistant
coaches from Seton Hall would come
watch us play whenever we were in
New Jersey, and they'd talk about
(the championship game) too. We'd
always joke about it. P.J. always
asked me if I was really fouled.
D: Before playing in Portland, you
spent nearly two full seasons playing
in the CBA. How does that league
compare to the NBA?
R: I take my hat off to the guys in
the CBA. Those guys go out and play
every night really trying to make it
up to the NBA. I can't say there was
ever a night when I was there when
we didn't try our hardest.
The system they have there is set
up for competition, and everyone
competes hard. Anytime a guy comes
up from the CBA, it means he's been
through a struggle. And I really
respect those guys.
D: We talked a little earlier about
how the college game is now a
One of your teammates in Los
Angeles was 18-year-old Kobe
Bryant. How was he as a teammate,
and what are your views on all the
kids leaving college so early or not
going at all, such as in Bryant's case?
R: I have to say, I don't necessari-
ly agree that a kid has to go to col-
lege before going pro. I think Kobe
may be an exceptional case because
his dad really prepared him well.
He speaks Italian fluently and is
probably the most mature 18-year-old
I have ever met. I wish him the best
and think he will be a very good bas-
ketball player in the league one day.
D: You have played with six differ-
ent NBA teams and three different
CBA teams in seven seasons. How
has all the travel and change affected
you on and off the court?
R: It's tough. You know, as they
say - pack light. Some things work
out, and some don't, you just have to
stay strong and keep your game on.
D: What did you think Michigan's
chances to win the Big Ten were this
R: I think they are a top-notch one
or two team in the Big Ten. But I guess
Michigan is always in contention for
the top couple spots. In the couple
games I've seen this year, they looked
good. Things seem to work out well
for Michigan, so hopefully they can
get something together this year and
Sollenberger in Paradise
ail the Wolverbie.s,
NCAA tit le or not
T he Michigan hockey team has quite a problem.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with the team itself. The Wolverines'
weekend sweep of Notre Dame is proof. In fact, winning hasn't been a
problem for the Wolverines at all this season. With a record of 28-2-3,
Michigan is on pace to break the school record for victories in a season (34).
But the Wolverines still have a problem.
It's called expectations.
If Michigan doesn't win the national title, people will consider the season a
failure. People will say the Wolverines underachieved.
This isn't fair, but it's the truth. And you know what? The Wolverines aren't
likely to repeat as NCAA champions. Sure, they are the favorites, but it's
awfully, awfully hard to repeat.
"Winning the title is a special thing" Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
"But it's not going to happen very often."
Many fans don't believe it. They watch Michigan destroy opponents week
after week after week. They expect another title to come easily.
There's no guarantee that the Wolverines will even reach the final four.
"Just to get to the final four," Berenson said, "you're going to have to beat a
really good team."
He's referring to the NCAA quarterfinals March 23 in Grand Rapids. A
matchup that won't be easy no matter how good the Wolverines are.
In the past five years, the Wolverines are 4-1 in the quarterfinals, but they
easily could have been 0-5.
"That's a tough game," Berenson said. "You have to live with it. You have to
live with the consequences. You go into it like it's your last game of the year.
Consider the past five years:
In the 1992 quarterfinals, Michigan came from three goals down to beat
Northern Michigan, 7-6. The next year, the Wolverines needed overtime to
dispatch Wisconsin, 4-3.
Their one loss came the following season to Lake Superior, 5-4, in over-
time. Two years ago, they knocked off Wisconsin, 4-3 - at Wisconsin. Then,
last year, they nipped Minnesota by the same score en route to the national
Five games, each decided by one goal. Two in overtime.
"It's always so close," Berenson said. "You need to be ready to put every-
thing on the line that night, because that could be the last game of the year."
Last season, it almost was.
Michigan needed Mike Legg's lacrosse-style goal to squeak by the Golden
Gophers. Without it, the Wolverines might have perished, and everyone would
still be moaning about how Michigan can't win The Big One.
"Don't think that Minnesota wasn't heartbroken," Berenson said. "They
thought they were as good as we were."
No one is as good as the Wolverines are this season. But the best team
doesn't always win. There have been previous Michigan teams whose records
were almost as good that didn't win the title. The 1990-91 team holds the
school record with 34 victories. The 1993-94 team won 33. Neither team won
the national title.
Still, Michigan has already had a fabulous season, regardless of what hap-
pens in the playoffs.
"I think that most people who know our team understand that we're having
a great season," Berenson said, "and that we've accomplished some things
The Wolverines have set the school record for fewest losses through 30
games (one), and they have the Hobey Baker frontrunner in center Brendan
Morrison, the school's all-time leading scorer.
They are about to clinch their fourth straight CCHA regular-season title,
and this season's seniors will likely leave Michigan as part of the winningest
class in school history.
But to many, the accolades won't mean a thing if the Wolverines don't win
the NCAA title again.
"I don't think those are good fans," Berenson said. "I just think those are
fickle people who just want to associate themselves with winners, period."
He's right. This year, Michigan has one of the best (if not very best) teams
in school history.
Of course, this increases the pressure. The Wolverines are expected to do
what last season's team did.
But Michigan has already had a remarkable season. This won't change.
Even if the Wolverines don't win the NCAA championship.
- Barry Sollenberger can be reached over e-mail email@example.com.
MICHIGAN SPORTS INFORMATION
Robinson celebrates Michigan's 1989 championship with teammates, including
*en Rice (at right).
Perfection keys 'M'
tumblers' nse to top
I I I
aily Sports Writer
Some athletes win glamorously, tri-
umphantly raising their hands high and
celebrating victory to the delight of
Others prefer to win quietly, letting a
performance speak for itself, leaving
the claps and fist-pumps to the crowd.
The Michigan women's gymnastics
team, ranked No. 4 in the nation,
bowed a little bit of both Friday in its
6.85-194.1 victory over Oregon
The Wolverines jumped to an early
lead on the vault behind perfect 10s
from two contrasting athletes, Sarah
Cain and Nikki Peters.
Pulling down a high score on the
vault has become a weekly event for
Friday's performance marked the
'xth time this season she scored above
49.9. The freshman recorded the 10 in
-iir first attempt on the apparatus and
-cilmly walked back to the runway for
her second try. Each gymnast gets two
attempts on the vault.
But the crowd didn't get the encore it
nn'nt~ac a in n n ,c w,.,rnw i~nr v Iher
When Peters is relaxed, the fans usu-
ally have something to cheer about.
Heather Kabnick is another
"Wolverine who thrives in pleasing the
She's been performing to the number
"La Cucaracha" on the floor exercise
because of its upbeat tempo.
"It's a crowd-getter," Kabnick said.
"When they're pumped up, it helps you
The junior almost recorded the fifth
perfect score of the meet in the floor
exercise, but she received a 9.5 from
Cain pulled off the trick on the final
performance of the evening, recording
a 10 on the floor.
No. 10 Oregon State was out of
Friday's meet from the beginning.
Michigan topped the Beavers in every
apparatus but the balance beam, and
was ahead by the large margin of three
points halfway through the meet.
"This was a great win' for us,"
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. "We
had three falls in the beam tonight, so
it could have been worse."
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