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December 01, 1997 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-12-01

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4B - The Michigan Daily -- SPORTSMonday - December 1, 1997

Even in Detroit, table tennis is'
more popular than Michigan

By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports Writer
DETROIT - While it may seem longer to the
casual observer, the Michigan-Detroit basketball
rivalry was renewed just six seasons ago. In the
intervening campaigns, each program's fortunes
have risen - and fallen.
That was never more evident than yesterday
afternoon when the teams squared off at Cobo
Arena. Cobo Hall was packed, but not with bas-
ketball fans.
Just two doors down from the arena, the team
table tennis championships were underway and
fans were swarming to catch a glimpse. In the
adjoining room, an indoor amusement park
occupied a ballroom with all the accompanying
So with all of the glitz and glamour surround-
ing the clowns and clubbers, no one came to
watch the amateur entertainers. Much to the cha-
grin of Detroit athletic personnel, a smattering of
fans -- just 5,612 - occupied the red seats of
Cobo's lower bowl.
While 5,600 fans may seem like a lot for a
Midwest Collegiate Conference home game,
history proves otherwise.
Just two seasons ago, when Michigan's roster
consisted of a bunch of future transfers and
youthful promise, the same two teams drew
almost twice the number of fans. That cheering
contingent, heavily saturated with Michigan
fans, was nowhere to be found yesterday.
Possible causes are abundant: Thanksgiving
weekend, Michigan's poor 2-1 record, a by-the-
skin-of-their-teeth save at Towson. Whatever the
reason, Michigan had little support. Upon Travis
Conlan's entrance with eight minutes left in the
first half not even a whimper was heard.
Maybe the Michigan fans knew something
those in attendance did not.

After the first 10 minutes, in which Detroit's
press handcuffed the Wolverines, Conlan
returned with his recovering wrist to give them a
needed spark. Or at least he tried.
The game, with Michigan holding a 13-12
advantage, never turned into the rout one might
expect with the co-captain's return.
From the beginning, Conlan attempted to do
all he could. He seized the duty of sticking to
Detroit's best player, Derrick Hayes.
He commandeered
the ball, attempting to
break the Titans' press
by himself, even drib-
bling with his broken
wrist. But the effort
was not enough.
Attempts to stretch the
Michigan lead beyond
three points were
unsuccessful, occa-
sionally due to missed
shots, but more often because of the pressure.
The Wolverines threw the ball away 27 times,
the highest total this season. Turnovers are
becoming Michigan's primary nemesis, accord-
ing to coach Brian Ellerbe.
"We're going up instead of down," Ellerbe
said after noting the extraordinary number of
giveaways. "We handled the pressure in seg-
ments, then we go into ruts.'
Fortunately for Ellerbe and the Wolverines,
Detroit's entire game was a rut. The Titans, who
finished with a 10-rebound advantage as well a
10 fewer turnovers, kept Michigan in the game
with their horrendous shooting.
Overall, Detroit converted on 31 percent of its
shots from the field. That embarrassing effort,
combined with Michigan's 21 second-half
points, led both teams to see which would falter

first. In fact, the last minute of play was the com-
edy of errors one might predict. With 56 secon
to play and Michigan leading by a point, Rob
Traylor showed his versatility.
The 6-foot-9, 300-pound center stood his
ground as Hayes charged in his direction. While
both fell on their respective backsides, the jolt of
Traylor's landing must have jarred the referees'
In a surprising move, the referees ruled in.
favor of Traylor and Michigan regained posses-
sion. Just 30 seconds earlier, Louis Bullock
pulled a similar "flop" from his bag of tricks
spark Michigan's hold on the lead.
After Detroit forward Brian Alexander scored
on an up-and-under move with 15 seconds left,
Michigan's fate appeared sealed as the Detroit
fans erupted into a frenzy of cheers.
"I thought it was over"Alexander said.
But as is often the case with Michigan, the,
thought was far from the actual occurrence. x
In the nail-biting reality that the Michigan bas-
ketball team seems to enjoy, a clock malfunction
left the fans and players hanging in suspense.
Once the appropriate time - at least b
Ellerbe's watch - was restored to the clock,
Maceo Baston supplied the heroics.
Unlike the predictable last-second play where
Bullock drives'to the basket only to make the
shot or be fouled, the guard swung the ball to
Conlan, who relayed it to Traylor. The center pre-
ceeded to make the game-winning pass to a dri-.
ving Baston, who laid in the game-winner.
The layup and ensuing foul saved Michigan
from a near embarrassment - for the second
time in a week.
With all the action in the last minute of play,
the absentee Michigan fans would have left sat-
isfied after seeing a tight game.
If they hadn't been watching ping-pong.

Michigan center Robert Traylor makes a pass through the outstretched arms of Detroit forward Perry
Robinson. Traylor scored nine points and pulled down six rebounds in Michigan's 54-53 victory.

_ . _.i .. ... . .. ..... . . ... . . .... .. ....... ..... . w..w.. . ...." . .a"".v v-r-w

Conlan makes much-anticipated return

Senior's numbers weren't impressive, but Wolverines

needed him anvwav


By Jim Rose
Daily Sports Editor
DETROIT - Amidst the chaos that was the
Michigan men's basketball team's victory over
Detroit yesterday afternoon, one steadying influence
made an appearance for the Wolverines: Travis
The senior had been out of action since injuring his
right wrist against Athletes in Action, Michigan's first
exhibition opponent, on Nov. 3. He had a hard plaster
cast removed on Tuesday, and played yesterday in a
soft cast, though he was not officially projected to
return until sometime around mid-December.
Before he was injured, Conlan had been having one
of his best games in a Michigan uniform - 19 points,
5 assists and 5 rebounds - and his loss left the
already-thin Wolverines' backcourt in a dangerous
situation. Robbie Reid has struggled with his ball-
handling and his shooting in Conlan's absence, and
Louis Bullock is off to a slow start shooting the ball
as well.
So as Michigan struggled with its early competi-
tion, much was made of Conlan's absence, and even

more was made of what his eventual return would
mean for the Wolverines. They have had more
turnovers than assists in each game this season, and
yesterday was no exception: 27
turnovers, 10 assists. The season
S. totals are proportional: 89
turnovers, only 51 assists.
Needless to say, the
Wolverines were looking for-
ward to the day when Conlan
could come back and restore
order to a floundering offense.
Yesterday, he did half of that.
He came back. But he didn't
Conlan exactly restore order.
Conlan's final numbers
weren't all that impressive - he had four turnovers
against just two points, two steals and an assist in 24
minutes - but his presence on the floor was more
important than his stat line, according to Detroit
coach Perry Watson.
"We didn't know Travis was going to play until
right before the game," Watson said. "Because of his

leadership and experience, he gave them a chance to
rest some people. I think they were getting a little
frustrated with our pressure, and Travis came in and
helped them in that regard:'
True to form, Conlan needed less than a minute to
tally his first steal yesterday, after he picked off a pass
and started a fast break the other way.
"It was very, very good to see him on the floor. He
gives us some energy," Michigan coach Brian Ellerb
said. "Defensively, he's as good as anybody you can
hope to have. Obviously, on offense, he's not to a
point where he was before the injury, but it's just good
to have another guard to put in, because we have so-
little depth."
Ellerbe said that "in practice Conlan had no pain a
but if he had any, I don't know if he'd tell us. But we
made sure that he had no swelling, so we knew he
could do some things right away."
Perhaps most telling was that in the game's final
moments, Michigan wanted the ball in Conlan's lefW
hand (and sometimes his right, though it was in a
cast) as opposed to the hands of any of tO.
Wolverines' other guards.

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Continued from Page 11B
ended in a Michigan victory.
"We've got to do a better job of exe-
cuting at the end," Michigan coach Brian
Ellerbe said. "The environment we were
in made it difficult. But we executed
best when the game was on the line?'
Fittingly, Detroit's desperation pass
was deflected away by Travis Conlan,
who made his first appearance for
Michigan since injuring his wrist Nov. 3
against Athletes in Action. Conlan, who
has often been called Michigan's
smartest floor leader, played the game
with his right wrist in a soft cast - and
deflected the final pass with his left fist.
Detroit kept the game close by pres-
suing Michigan into 27 turnovers, and
although the Wolverines held the lead
for most of the game, they led by just a
point, 50-49, as the game entered the
final six minutes.
With just more than five minutes to
play, Conlan found Baston inside, but
DWroit's defense didn't, and a thunder-
ous dunk shook the basket's supports
and gave the Wolverines a 52-49 lead.
After a pair of Detroit free throws cut the
lead to one, neither team could score

until the game's final 15 seconds.
Conlan was expected to be out of
action until early or mid-December, but
the senior checked in with 8:41 left in
the first half. He had a plaster cast
removed from his right wrist on
It took exactly 46 seconds for Conlan
to record his first steal of the season, as
he swiped a Detroit pass with the
Wolverines playing a 3-2 zone. He fin-
ished the game with two points, two
steals and four turnovers.
Bullock paced the Wolverines with 16
points. Baston had 15 and seven boards,
and Jerod Ward scored 12 points. The
Titans were led by Alexander's 15 points
and 11 rebounds.
"We should have won the game;"
Detroit coach Perry Watson said. "We
were our own worst enemy."
Early in the second half, the
Wolverines appeared to be asserting
themselves after Baston dunked and
then split a pair of free throws on back-
to-back possessions to make the score
38-33. But Detroit bounced back with
six quick points (aided by two equally-
quick Michigan turnovers) to take a 39-
38 lead with 13:10 remaining in the

1 *
-O'ww.ted in3Brpanssod aN

Bullock steadied the ship, hitting a
pair of jumpers to regain the lead for
Michigan, and after a few free throws
and a 3-pointer by Jerod ward, Michigan
moved its lead to 48-43 with less than
eight minutes remaining.
Detroit's pressure defense gave;
Michigan fits throughout the first half
and the Wolverines' 10 turnovers before-
halftime helped to keep the score close;.
MIN M-M-A A 4A F P15
Baston 38 6-8 3.4 2-7 2 2 1
Ward 27 5-11 0-0 2-4 0 3 12
Trayfor 36 3.8 3-4 2-6 2 3 9
Bullock 31 6-10 2-2 04 1 2 16
Reid 29 4 0-0 0.3 3 2 0
conlan 24 01 2-2 01 1 1 2
Smith 10 0-0 0-0 0.0 10 0
Vignier 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Asselin 3 041 0.0 0.2 0 0 0
Totals 200 2440 1412 6.26 1013 54
F%: .500. FM- .833. 3lnt FQ: 4-9, .444 (War
2-. Bullock 2-3, conlan01,Reid 0.1). Blocks: 2
(Baston, Traylor). Steals R 9 (Bullock 2,Conlan 2
Traylor 2, Baston, Reid; Ward). Technical Fouls:
Hayes 33 5.17 0.0 2-3 1 5 12
Alex der, Br. 35 6.10 3-4 7-11.1 1 15
Robinson 25 1-5 2-2 2-3 1 3 4
Haralson 20 1-7 0-0 3.5 1 1 3
Jackson 34 3.8 0-1 1-5 7 3 7
Phillips 11 1-4 2-2 1-2 1 0 5
Ferguson 24 1.6 2.2 1-3 3 0 5
Alex'der, Ba. 13 0.2 00 1-2 0 4 0~
Bauman 6 1-1 0.0 0.0 0 2
Totals 200 13980 9-1120.361519 W
FG%: .317. FT%: .818. 3-polnt FO: 6-27, .222
(Hayes 2-9, Haralson 1-6, Ferguson 1-5, Jackson
1-4, Phillips 1-3). Blocks: 3 (Alexander, Br.).
Steals: 11 (Jackson 4. Alexander, Br. 3,
Feruson, Hayes, Phillips, Robinson). Technical
Michigan ............33 21-54
Athletes .............29 24 - 53
At: Cobo Arena. A: 5,612.
. .., V


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