The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - December 8. 1997
Y ictory over Rebels
brings out best in Blue
By Mark Snyder
l)aily Sports Writer
.-On Saturday, there was a certain symmetry to
Michigan's victory over UNLV.
The game began and ended in similar fashion
*h the Michigan basketball players standing in
front of their seats, cheering on their teammates,
enjoying the game.
-:ln their traditional show ofunity, the Michigan
reserves opened the game upright on the bench,
tajnding until one of their teammates tallied the
first Michigan points.
"The big difference-
between the beginning and
lwe end? It was the hbgn
reserves who coasted up
down the court as the
trting five assumed the=-
irle of cheerleaders._
So while the beginningf
ind the end painted simi-
lar scenes, it was the inter-
vening chaos that served
as a reminder of impres-
sive potential and remarkable ability.
Entering the game, many indications pointed
to a UNLV blowout. The Runnin' Rebels stormed
sler Arena with a 3-1 record and victories
over Eastern Michigan and Southern Cal.
All-America candidate Tyrone Nesby led the
UNLV charge, entering the game averaging 18
points per game and remained the focus of
Michigan's front line.
But that was before Saturday. UNLV was the
outstanding team entering this game, but after
the first 20 minutes, the roles reversed. Michigan
turned an 11-10 deficit into a 25-10 lead midway
through the first half, and UNLV couldn't recov-
for the rest of the game..
_ heir frustration was evident. Upon receiving
a technical foul in the first half for leaving the
coaching box, UNLV coach Bill Bayno placed a
chair to prevent further trangressions. The silent
protest symbolized UNLV's troubles.
Michigan's impressive effort was a direct
result of an increased performance from nearly
After weeks of forced passes and poor ball-
handling, Robbie Reid began to show the skills
that piqued Steve Fisher's interest early last sum-
The point guard's awkward shooting style -
he launches the ball with his left hand from the
shoulder area - produced substantial numbers
for the first time this season.
Reid nailed five of nine 3-pointers, many of
them sparking Michigan runs.
Extending the lead to double digits during the
15-0 run boosted Reid's confidence to the point
at which he was no longer afraid to shoot.
That willingness to shoot has been missing
from Reid's game. In fact, he capped a late rally
in the final minute of the first half with another
His first half-performance - a team-high 12
points - and fiery attitude sparked not only the
points but the attitude. Crisler Arena, often
referred to as "the Lounge" for its library-like
demeanor, erupted and the Michigan bench
danced in celebration.
"The emotion factor is something you can't
gauge," Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe said. "If
you could get that emotion every game, that's
something that could be very valuable to us.
Despite the talent Michigan puts on the floor
every night, multiple contributions are needed
for a comfortable victory - as Ellerbe now
Each of the starters scored in double figures,
enabling Michigan to use an assortment of
weapons. For the first time all season, two
Wolverines - Reid and Louis Bullock - had a
long-range touch, enabling Michigan to spread
the floor and stretch the athletic Rebel defense.
(Pardon the Star Wars reference.)
Freshmen Josh Asselin and Brandon Smith
continued to make the departed Fisher look like
a recruiting genius. What was supposed to be a
Robert Traylor shoots over UN.V forward Kaspers Kambala. Traylor's 17-point effort helped spark the
Wolverines to an impressive 24 point victory.
subpar recruiting class has blossomed into the
core of the Michigan team.
Asselin continued his solid play, scoring eight
points and taking the ball to the basket aggres-
sively and Smith contributed two blocks. While
Asselin has paid for that effort with hard fouls,
each one is earning him more respect -and
minutes - from Ellerbe.
The unity that the Wolverines displayed can be
directly related to the captains, Traylor and
Travis Conlan. Little things, like Traylor's exu-
berance following Reid's first-half3-pointer, and
both captains' rush to help up Asselin following
a crushing blow, are not basketball plays. but
vital to team cohesion.
If the coming week - with games against
Bradley, Eastern Michigan and No. I Duke_
results in similar performances, Michigan will
begin to reclaim the respect of an NCAA tourna-
"We're just starting to tap into our potential.
Reid said. "If we put all of that together, there's
not a team in the country we can't beat."
C'an you see the (Blue} Devil in the distance?
Quote of the Week
"' I'iev say that wcheni vont
have a bad game YOu
shoauld fbret about it. Well,
I cot -t remember
anything before this game.
Player of the Week
The junior point guard had
a coming-out party of sorts
on Saturday, scoring 17
points on five 3-pointers to
lead Michigan to an 83-59
victory over UNIX
WASHINi aN (A.\l) It was
hardly a recipe for an upset.
Maryland blew a 1I5-po it second-
half lead, lost its two top players to
fouls and didn't score a field goal in
the last 4:10.
Yet the No. 23 Terrapins made
seven of eight free throws in the
final two minutes to heat No. 2
Kansas 86-83 yesterday in the first
round of the Franklin National Bank
It is the first time in Roy
Williams' 10 years at Kansas that the
Jayhawks have failed to make the
championship game of a holiday
No. 6 Pt RtDI'I 87, Loa ist 1.r.1 69
Brad Miller scored 12 of his 27
points during a 27-5 run and No. 6
Purdue snapped a two-game losing
streak with an 87-69 victory over
I ouisville on Saturday night.
Gene Keadv became Purdue's
winningest coach, passing Ward
Lambert's 371 victories. In his 2th
season, Keady's record is 3721b 12.
Purdue (6-2), got off to a sluggish
start. turning the ball over nine times
and missing 10 of its first 12 shots in
falling behind I 3-4 eight minutes
into the game.
No. 5 Sot tii Caim.IN:a 67,
Ryan Stack had 16 points and BJ
McKie added 15 and No. 5 South
Carolina held Chattanooga to 28
percent shooting for a 67-55 victory
Chattanooga (4-3) was unable to
overcome its first-half woes, miss-
ing 22 of 30 field goal attempts.
Chattanooga wound up missing 46
of 64 shots.
No. 9 Xw i .ti 93, W. K.N (tkv
.J. Johnson and Darnell Williams
scored six points each during a 23-0
run that broke the game open early
as No. 9 Xavier beat Western
Kentucky 93-60 Saturday night.
Lenny Brown led Xavier (5-0)
with 22 points and five assists, Gary
Lumpkin and James Posey had 16
Wolverines, Traylor dance to day of firsts against UNLV
Laily Sports Editor
Saturday's 83-59 victory over UNLV
was a game of firsts for the Michigan
men's basketball team.
For the first time this season, the
Wolverines had more assists than
turnovers (20 assists, 15 turnovers) -
but never mind that part. Forget that all
five starters scored in double figures for
e first time. Even ignore, momentarily,
at for the first time Robbie Reid
looked like a terrific point guard.
For the first time this season - per-
haps the first time in school history -
Michigan's best player and his grand-
mother were dancing, simultaneously.
Not with each other, exactly, but defi-
nitely at the same time. While the game
was going on.
After a soaring alley-oop dunk by
randon Smith brought the Crisler
rena crowd to its feet (no small task in
itself), Michigan came up with a defen-
sive stop and Reid hit his fourth 3-point-
er of the half to put the Wolverines
ahead, 41-25, with 38 seconds remaining
before the intermission.
With Traylor bouncing and spinning
downcourt, raising the roof and gesturing
wildly to the crowd,
' ° 9his grandmother, sit-
j' ting behind
Michigan's bench, got
to her feet and, well,
I E4e4o cut a rug.
was mirrored by the
somewhat small, but
loyal, student section
at midcourt, which
has had relatively few opportunities to
stand up and cheer thus far in the season.
.And Saturday seemed an opportune
time for the Wolverines -and their fans
- to start getting into high gear, with
tough games in the next week against
Eastern Michigan (Wednesday) and
"I thought we played with an awful lot
of emotion," Michigan coach Brian
Ellerbe said afterward. "If you can get
that emotion every game, you're going to
win on most nights."
While Traylor best exemplified the
emotion to which Ellerbe referred, it was
the play of Michigan's guards that tem-
pered that emotion and allowed the
Wolverines to turn a blowout into an
even bigger blowout.
Reid tied Traylor for the scoring lead
with 17 points, hitting five treys in 31
minutes. Guards Louis Bullock and
Travis Conlan each had five assists and
no turnovers running the offense. The
strong game was especially sweet for
Reid, who has struggled in the early part
of the season.
"They say that when you play bad you
should forget about it," Reid said. "I
couldn't remember any games to this
"I've been disappointed in myself,
because I knew the type of player I was
coming in here. I felt like it was a matter
of time, to be honest. I'm happy, it feels
good to play well."
Another first took place in Saturday's
win: Bullock missed his first free throw
of the season, after making 20 straight
since the beginning of the year.
Too MUCH MAKE1 P: Also related to
the "firsts" department: Ellerbe got his
first technical foul of the season --
apparently for not doing much of any-
thing, to hear him tell it.
"It must have been the (arm-waving)
gesture," Ellerbe said. "Because I didn't
Ellerbe pleaded with the officials, but
to no avail. After much discussion and
the resultant free throws, play resumed.
But not for long.
It took exactly five seconds for the
next technical to be handed out, this time
to UNLV coach Bill Bayno -- who was
all the way down at the opposite end of
the floor, and apparently stepped out of
the coaches' box briefly.
Bayn4 couldn't believe the call, but
the Michigan coaches looked on with
smiles on their faces. And the fans were
satisfied with the prompt make-up call.
"I think (the referee) knew it was prob-
ably not the right call:' Lllerbe said of his
technical, which started the mess. "Then
he goes and gives Billy one right away."
NEw mAN mIAV?2: ? nheralded fresh-
man beanpole Josh Asselin (6-foot-1l,
215 pounds) played 20 gritty minutes
and scored eight points against the
Rebels, in the process endearing himself
to the f risler crowd.
On one play, Asselin absorbed a hard
foul while going up for a dunk. When the
ball was knocked away and he lost his
balance. he landed extremely hard on his
back, with a resounding "thud:'
Ellerbe jumped off the bench out of'
concern, and Assein's teammates gath-
ered around, but the freshman needed
only a minute to collect his breath on the
floor. Hle bounced back up and strode to
the free-throw line, ready to shoot --
much to the delight of the crowd.
He had to come out of the game, how-
ever, because of the brief injury stop-
page. Bullock shot the free throws, but
Asselin checked back into the game a
just few seconds later.
Newcomers' emergence erases
concerns about lack of depth
Louis Bullock dri-
Ves to the hoop
on his way to two
of his 16 points.
The junior point
guard added five
assists in a solid
SARA siTI LMAN/Ddily
Continued from Page 1A
Reid was a large factor in the blowout. The junior transfer
from Brigham Young, along with Robert Traylor, each con-
tributed 17 points to lead the starters, all of scored in double-
digits. Louis Bullock contributed with 16 points, seven
abounds and five assists. Jerod Ward added 13 points and
seven boards, and Maceo Baston had 10 points.
Michigan held UNLV (3-2) to 31.5 percent shooting and
three-of-22 from beyond the arc. And for the first time this
season, the Wolverines had more assists (20) than turnovers
Center Kaspars Kambala and guard Donovan Stewart each
scored 15 points for UNLV while forward Tyrone Nesby had
14 points. Kambala also had 12 rebounds.
By Dai Stiliman
Daily Sports Wrnter
Before the season, there were several
knocks on the Michigan men's basket-
ball team - they're underachievers,
they don't play with enough intensity,
they can't play defense, they play down
to their opponents.
But the one knock that was supposed
to bring the door down and doom the
Wolverines' season was the team's
depth, or lack thereof.
Coming into the season, the
Wolverines were supposedly paper thin
after starters Robert Traylor. Maceo
Baston,'Travis Conlan, Louis Bullock
and Jerod Ward..
All of the sudden, thanks to two
freshmen and a transfer from Brigham
Young, it looks like the Wolverines'
bench is no longer a major liability.
The transfer, Robbie Reid, has given
the Wolverines much needed help on the
perimeter. It's not so much that Reid is a
guard - Michigan already had Travis
Conlan and Louis Bullock.
Rather, it's that Reid, who has in
effect replaced departed guard Brandun
Hughes, can also serve as a backup floor
leader to Conlan - a role not played by
Reid's presence was needed sooner
than anyone expected when Conlan
went down with an injury in the first
exhibition game. And despite getting off
to a slow start - a two-year stint away
from the game while on a Mormon mis-
sion is partly to blame - Reid has
shown slow but steady improvement
G Louis Bullock
C Robert Traytor
G Robbie Reid
F Maceo Baston
F Jerod Ward
G Travis Conlan*
F Brandon Smith
F/C Josh Asselin
C Peter Vignier
G Ron Oliver
free throws by Ward, and the lead was 14 at the eight-minute
mark -a lead that had the Wolverines pumping fists and
resulted in the loudest reception from the crowd this season.
"Our basketball team came out with a lot of emotion,'
Ellerbe said. "Our defensive intensity was very, very good."
The Runnin' Rebels, who defeated Eastern Michigan, 84-
66, on Nov. 19, were obviously affected by the zone. For a
team that thrives on the fast-paced, running game, UN LV was
out of whack. The Rebels only connected on two field-goals
in the last 13 minutes of the half.
"It seemed the harder we tried to get something done, the
worse things happened," UNLV coach Ben Banyo said. "It
just seemed to snowball. We were flat, emotionally."
The Wolverines quickly increased their 41-25 halftime lead
to 20 points, Freshman Josh Asselin came off the bench to
score eight in the half and seemed to have a hand on every
-J . ,.,a A - 1n1r.. L L.. -~.<tr .wr i n 11 cA it tt lfh I
* - Conlan's time has been limit-
ed due to a wrist injury
see him knock down some shots."
While the coaches knew what they
were getting with the arrival of Reid.
freshmen Brandon Smith and Josh
Asselin have provided a relatively unex-
pected boost off the bench.
Actually, Ellerbe has said from the
beginning of the season that Smith. a
swingman, was "in the mix." All it took
for everyone else to see the untapped
potential that Ellerbe saw was a little
Smith's smooth style has dazzled fans
with spectacular passes and big plays.
Saturday's game was no different, as
Smith, seemingly out of nowhere, came
flying towards the basket and alley-
ooped a strike from Conlan.
'Zmiti, haG c nwx nnearP'd in all six
Asselin has made significant
improvements, growing more comfort-
able every time he steps on the court.
Since scoring five points and grabbing
four rebounds in his first three appear-
ances, Asselin has 16 points and eight
rebounds in Michigan's last two games:
"Josh is playing very inspired basket-
ball,' Ellerbe said. "He's playing against
two of the better post guys every day (in
practice) and taking his licks. He does-
n't always see the benefits of playing
against those guys in practice, but in a
game situation, you can see it."
The advantages were crystal clear in
Asselin's eight-point, five-rebound per-
formance against UN [V His stats, com-
bined with an increased confidence and
presence, turned many heads.
So, after all the worrying and dooms-
day talk, maybe the Wolverines' bench
will actually turn out to be an asset.
Then again, even though U N LV was a
step up from Michigan's previous oppo-
nents, the new guys haven't shown they
can hang with top teams like Duke yet.
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A O-T A F PTs
Ausborne 31 2-7 2-2 1-4 2 0 7
Nesby 33 3-12 8-10 3-6 2 2 14
Kambala 25 5-9.3 5-6 5-12 Q 4 15
Dickel 32 13 2-2 0.2 2 3 5
Daniels 40 0-8 3-7 1-7 3 1 3
Dabs 2' 0-0 0a-0 0-1 0 0 0
Stewar# 32 610 24 12 1 2 15
Rice 5 01 00 0 0 1 0
Totals 200 1T-54 2 12-3112-3810 13 59
FG%: .315. FT%: .7 10. 3-pointt FG: 3-22, -136i
(Ausborne 1-5 ,Nesby 0-6, Dickei 1-2, Danieis 0-5,
Stewart 1-3, Rice 0-1. Blocks: 1 (Danieis.
Steals: 7? i esby 1, Danels 4, Stewart 2-.
Technical Fouls: 1 (Bayno}
M MG FT REB