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September 03, 1997 - Image 69

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Eiw 3id~igun aIt

- - __

Wednesday, September 3, 1997

Sports are as
much apart of
.J'as classes
and professors
f you're reading this column, you
probably care about Michigan
sports - at least a little bit.
There are some people at this
University who don't, those you
believe that college athletics is
either barbaric and indulges the
v( of mind.
hat is fine - diversity is what
makes this campus so great. Some
of these people will be your profes-
sors, one may be your RA and some
will sit next to you in an English or
philosophy class.
Sports aren't for everyone. College
athletics can get downright nasty. But
while these detractors have their rea-
sons, I believe they are wrong.
*r the rest of us, the Wolverines
who march into Michigan Stadium,
Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena
will have an effect on our lives.
People that we do not even know
will move us to tears, or induce us
to party in the
Athletics fos-
ter kinship, not
just among the
players, but
among the fans.
Contrary to what
JOHN naysayers
LEROI believe, there is
Out of intellect
Bounds involved, too.
And for those
political science
majors who thinks our Athletic
Department could contribute noth-
i to his pursuit of intellect, see
h political Lloyd Carr is handling
a four-man quarterback controversy.
The bottom line is this: For those
of us who care even a little bit now,
Michigan athletics will tug at your
heartstrings. You will rejoice when
the Wolverines win and you will
suffer when they lose.
You will remember comebacks
against Duke, shocking finishes.
a inst Colorado and overtime
ges on ice that last forever.
And whether you were a big
Maize and Blue supporter in high
school or just a casual fan, it will
get worse now that you're a fresh-
man, now that you go to Michigan.
You can file into Michigan
Stadium with 100,000 others. You
can watch away games on TV in
your dorm. You can even drive all
t way to Penn State one weekend
fu game - your parents will have
no idea.
No matter what, in your four
years here, you will be disappointed
and you will be surprised. Who will
be Michigan's quarterback? Can the
Wolverines survive without Maurice
Taylor (answer is certain to be yes,
by the way)? How much longer will
Steve Fisher last? How will a hock-
ey team that has been the best in the
on for two years react after los-
i seven of the most decorated
players Michigan has ever seen?
You will be stunned by bad plays
and bonehead calls. Somebody will
fumble, somebody will miss a free
throw. You will be elated by lucky
bounces and improbable comebacks.
Just as important, you will learn
about people you knew nothing of
before. You'll learn that the best ath-

s at this school aren't Charles
oodson, Marty Turco and Louis
Bullock, but Sara Griffin, Stacey
Thomas and Jeff Catrabone (okay,
Woodson is, too).
You will be amazed at how good
our swimming programs are. You'll
find out just how daunting a task
Sue Guevara faces turning our
women's basketball program around
(she's been outstanding so far).
'll learn that the only Big Ten
s Michigan won last year went
to the baseball, softball, women's
gymnastics and women's tennis
You'll sing Hail to the Victors.
You'll buy Michigan sweatshirts.
You'll throw marshmallows at foot-
ball games and not know why.
Now, you are a Wolverine, just as
much as Robert Traylor is.
gttending Michigan is special.
letics is just as much a part of
college as classes. When you're 40,
you'll remember where you were
sitting when Michigan beat Notre
Dame. Chances are you won't have
the foggiest idea what you scored on
your first exam.
For all these reasons. you will







sports strong,

deep despite
lackluster yar
By Mark Spyder
Daily Sports Writer
One of the first images that comes to mind for a Michigan sports fan is that
of an athlete, arms raised in triumph. On the Ann Arbor campus, it could be
any athlete, in nearly any sport.
Multi-sport success is a unique distinction not held by many other schools.
Even fewer can claim such high levels of achievement.
Accompanying Michigan's history of success is one of the strongest fan bases
in the nation. Michigan teams perform in packed stadiums and before national
television audiences. This combination of athletic excellence and strong fan sup-
port make for a powerful sports program that outshines any potential competitor.
Bo Schembechler, the legendary coach of the Michigan football team from
1969-89 and the winningest football coach in Michigan history, said the rela-
tionship between teams and fans at the University is strong.
"Here at Michigan they've had a lot of success in most sports, therefore
there's a lot of following for the teams," said Schembechler, who also served
as athletic director from 1988-90. "There is something special about college
sports that people can associate with, more so than they do in the pros."
Bill Freehan, who coached the Michigan baseball team from 1990-1995
after spending 15 years as a Detroit Tiger, said the University's athletic tradi-
tion compliments its high academic standards.
"I think it stands for what a lot of people want to achieve in life, and that's
excellence," Freehan said. "I think the athletic programs mirror what the whole
University is about."
Last year, Michigan did not win a national championship in any sport. While
at another school that may not be significant, at Michigan this shortfall was
notable. The aberration is hardly cause for concern among maize-and-blue

faithful, however, because suc-
cess was abundant.
Year after year, Michigan
fields the top teams in the
nation in multiple sports, and is
among the most successful
whenever championship play-
offs roll around.
Michigan won six Big Ten
championships last year, one
post-season tournament title
and were in the championship
rounds of three others.

"There is something
special about college
sports .."
-- Bo Schembechier
Former Michigan football coach

Above: Center
Robert Traylor
moves to the
basket in a
December game
against Duke.
Traylor, the NIT's
most valuable
player, will return
this year for a
third season at

The football team, coached by Lloyd Carr, did not win the Big Ten title.
But the Wolverines did play in the Outback Bowl, and defeated national
powers like Colorado and Ohio State. The victory over Ohio State, a team
that went on to win the Rose Bowl, denied the arch-rival Buckeyes the
national championship.
The Michigan basketball and hockey teams enjoyed even greater success.
After narrowly missing a bid to the post-season NCAA basketball tourna-
ment, Steve Fisher's basketball team did not roll over.
Instead, the Wolverines made the most of the invitation they did have, to the
NIT tournament, and ran with it - literally- winning the tournament cham-
pionship by defeating Florida State, 82-73, in New York City.
The season, despite the absence of a Big Ten championship, elusive for the
eleventh consecutive season, had many additional high points for Fisher's
squad. Michigan defeated both ACC-power Duke and eventual national cham-
pion Arizona in a December run.
On the ice, the Michigan hockey team was unstoppable all season long -
the regular season, that is. Michigan faltered when when it faced Boston
University in the national semifinals.
The game was a role reversal from the previous season, when Boston was
the favored team in the national semifinals and Michigan was the underdog.
This season, Michigan was the defending national champion that was shocked
short of the title game.
But success can be determined by other factors, primary among them the
culmination of Michigan's senior class. The nine seniors won more games in
their four-year tenure than any class before them.
They were the first to claim four CCHA championships and went to three
national semifinals, claiming one national championship.
At the head of this class was Brendan Morrison, the nation's leading
scorer. After three years of nominations, Morrison won the Hobey Baker
Award as the nation's best college hockey player.
Morrison's achievement was unparalleled in Michigan hockey history.
He joined Desmond Howard and Tom Harmon in football, and Cazzie
Russell in basketball as the winners of national player of the year honors
in their respective sports.
Few schools, if any, can claim such high achievement in the three major
sports - an unqualified success.
In recent years, Michigan has also struggled to achieve success of anoth-
er sort - in the burgeoning fields of women's= sports. Twenty years ago,
See TEAMS, Page 6F

Left: Tailback
Williams dodges
past an Illinois
player in a game
during August,
1996. More than
fans pack
6 .i Stadium on any
given football
Saturday -
emblematic of
FILE PHOTO Michigan's
athletic tradition.

Women's gymnastics takes
fourth in nation at NCAAs - - 4

By Jacob Wheeler
Daily Sports Writer
A coach crosses his or her fingers the
entire year, hoping the team will peak at
just the right moment.
But for the 1997 Michigan women's
gymnastics team and its coach Bev
Plocki, the climax happened a little too
soon, and the Wolverines finished
fourth at the NCAA championships.
Michigan came on strong in the
spring after a sluggish start that

Five performers attained solid scores
week after week, and one of them, fresh-
man Sarah Cain, was establishing herself
as one of the nation's top gymnasts.
Cain captured unanimous Big Ten
freshman of the year honors and Big
Ten gymnast of the year, as the
Wolverines won their sixth straight Big
Ten title in Minneapolis.
Heather Kabnick was among the
nation's elite all season in the floor exer-
cise, recording two perfect 10's during the

Arbor's Crisler Arena. In the season's
highlight, the Wolverines hosted the
central regional competition and
knocked off regional powerhouse
Alabama, scoring a school record all-
around score of 197.7 in the process.
"The regional title is something that
has eluded us for a number of years,"
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. "It's
something that we've waited a long
time for, but we knew we had a great
opportunity to do it this year."



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