1 The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 4, 1997
Blue 's aggression not enougkv
to overcome1 ig/er power
By Dan Stillman
Daily Sports Writer
Oh, Lord, not again.
For the second consecutive season, the Michigan basket-
ball team has fallen to Athletes in Action.
AIA, a traveling exhibition team whose main purpose is to
preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, beat the Wolverines, 95-
93, last night.
As embarrassing as it may sound, losing to AIA isn't all that
bad. In fact, AIA, which is known for astounding perimeter
shooting, looks to be back-dooring its way into the top 25,
improving to 5-0 with the victory.v
What was troubling was the
Wolverines' failure to execute offen-
sively down the stretch. In the drama
that is a close contest against AIA, the
Wolverines missed four free throws
and failed to get to the basket down the
Despite the loss, coach Brian
Ellerbe's Wolverines injected a breath
of fresh air into a sparsely populated
Crisler Arena last night with their new-
! f .
"I want him to feel like he has a green light," Ellerbe said.
"I think he's responsible enough to know what's a good shot
and a bad shot."
As a team, the Wolverines looked more aggressive than i
recent seasons. Even Ellerbe himself was active in front o
But don't expect this team to all-out run and gun like one
of Rick Pitino's Kentucky teams. With such a short bench,
the Wolverines would run out of steam before the conference
season even began.
Sophomore center Peter Vignier tried to give the
Wolverines some quality minutes off the bench, but heTmay
have done more harm than good, looking as confused as a
deer caught in headlights. Freshman Brandon Smith, who is
expected to contribute immediately, came off the bench t
add a couple of sparkling assists.
Newcomer Robbie Reid displayed some intensity as well
as rust. It was the first game-action in two years for Reid, a
Brigham Young transfer, after serving a mission in Greece.
Reid nailed the team's first shot of the game, but also missed
two key foul shots in the game's final minutes. --
The one guy for whom intensity is rarely a problem, senior
center Robert Traylor, contributed a relatively quiet 14
points but also missed from the charity stripe near the end of
But it was Conlan who stood out the most. He sparked tho
Wolverines early and was sorely missed in crunch time.
"I think the last eight or nine minutes, Travis would have
had the ball in his hands," Ellerbe said.
But even if Conlan hadn't left the game with the injury, it
might have been pretty hard pull out a victory over a team
that says it plays in the name of Jesus Christ.
"We never gave up. We scratched back," AIA coach Chuck
Badger said. "If Jesus Christ was playing, I know that he
would've played like we did tonight."
AIA is one thing, but the Wolverines better hope Jesus is
busy when Duke comes to town.
If that trend continues, Michigan fans might finally get
;.this season what they've so desperately wanted from the man
'" }'>Ellerbe replaced I11 days ago, Steve Fisher - a motivated
and aggressive basketball team that may fill up Crisler pret-
.5 Ellerbe has been preaching aggressiveness, especially
7' \ toward senior guard Travis Conlan, since even before the
r former assistant was named interim head coach for this
"Before (Ellerbe) found out that Fisher wasn't going to be
the coach," Conlan said, "he said, 'The coaches, they might
get mad at me some days cause I'm going to tell you: Every
time you get the ball, look to be a threat."
Evidently, the message got through to Conlan.
< The co-captain made I1l-of-13 shots, including four of
five 3-pointers. He was forced to leave the game midway
through the second half when he dove for the ball and
sprained his right wrist.
Conlan came out firing from the start. He scored six of
the Wolverines' first 14 points and assisted on the other
eight. At one point, an AlA player yelled at Conlan, daring
him to take a three. Conlan spotted up, shot, and nailed it.
: Conlan was as aggressive last night as departed guard
Brandun Hughes was selfish all of last season.
Ellerbe has tried to increase Conlan's aggressiveness by
SARA STILLMAN/Daily raising his confidence level.
)bort Traylor closely guards Athletes in Action's Greg Colbert. On offense, Traylor totaled 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Ewo years in a row? Who are these guys, anyway?
Surq,"it's an exhibition game and the loss doesn't figure into
Si-iigan's record, but a loss is a loss. And it when it happens
to the same team two years in a row, it makes one wonder --
ire these guys who call themselves Athletes in Action?
The, Michigan basketball team might also be curious after
I ing last night to AIA, 95-93, after falling to them, 104-96, in
t second exhibition game last season.
For starters, this is no ordinary exhibition team -- not a
c ampuff, not an automatic 'W' This is a team that is cele-
bting its 30th year of existence and has won more than 60
ptcgnt of its games over that span. AIA has been on
Michigan's exhibition schedule a total of seven times, includ-
ir lsthight - and the Wolverines hold a slight 4-3 edge.
-Tut the organization is not just about basketball. AIA is part
f the sports ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ that was
unded in 1966 by Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for
$hrist and Dave Hannah, a former punter for the Los Angeles
And there were Michigan ties right from the start. The first
Mlayer ever to don AIA uniform was Larry Tregoning, a mem-
ber of the Wolverines' Final Four squads of 1964 and 1965. The
local connection didn't end there. Michigan guards Rob
Pelinka,and James Voskuil both suited up for AIA for the 1993
AIA season after they graduated earlier that year.
But it's not just the list of players that makes AIA stand out,
it's the message. In pamphlets that were handed out to fans and
media after the game, the three purposes of their organization
were listed as "to promote international goodwill through bas-
ketball, to help athletes maximize their mental, physical and
spiritual potential and to challenge people to get to know God
personally through a relationship with Jesus Christ."
AIA coach Chuck Badger said the way his team played
against the Wolverines had all the character of what AIA
"We play to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ," Badger said.
"If Jesus Christ was playing, I know that he would have played
like we did tonight - tough, never giving up, not worrying
about the scoreboard, but just going hard."
Badger forgot to mention AIA's 15-of-29 3-point shooting
that were hardly prayers. Landon Hackim, who joined AIA
after playing four years at Miami (Ohio), led the charge with
seven treys and 26 points.
And then there's David Wood, the prototypical NBA jour-
neyman. A man who has played for five NBA teams including
a stint with Detroit since 1988. Wood, who contributed 19
points on 6-of-14 shooting, was just cut by Milwaukee last
week. He had options, but he chose to join AlA for his third fall
"I just turned down an offer for 5200,000 to play in Spain,"
Wood said. "I want to continue to learn how to share my faith."
What the players offer, however, is not just the hustle they
show on the basketball court. After every game, coaches and
players hand out pamphlets detailing their beliefs. At every
school they attend, players speak at pregame meals.
Michigan guard Robbie Reid, who transferred to Michigan
this August, was impressed with the pregame meal speech an
AIA player gave. The 6-foot-I guard believes in the Mormon
faith and just returned last spring from a two-year mission to
So what ALA is doing is something Reid commends.
"For me, it's nice to see people who have a perspective on
life," Reid said. "Going around and having a message above
and beyond making 3-pointers and dunking the basketball and
trying to serve our savior is a great mission and a great thing."
Senior Maceo Baston dunks In front of a sparsely populated
Crisler Arena during last night's loss to Athletes in Action.
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Continued from Page 11
who made his Michigan debut.
Reid missed both free throws, but
the Wolverines retained possession,
and Bullock's trey from the left side
tied the game at 92..
After AlA scored to go ahead, 94-
92, Traylor was fouled at the other
end. The junior made just one of two
from the stripe, and Michigan trailed
by a point with 41.8 seconds remain-
The Wolverines got the ball back
and had one last chance after Baston
took his third charge of the game
with 16 seconds to play, but Bullock
had the ball knocked away while dri-
ving to the basket in the game's final
No foul was called despite appar-
ent contact, and the Wolverines did r
not score again.
AIA was paced by guard Landon
Hackim, who torched Michigan for a
game-high.26 points, including a 7-
for-9 display from beyond the arc.
Wood, who was cut by the
Milwaukee Bucks last week, scored
19, but he looked most like an NBA
player when he traveled twice in the
first five minutes.
To Wood's disbelief, the college
officials actually whistled him for it
in last night's game.
Bullock led the Wolverines with
24 points (six threes), Jerod Ward
came off the bench to net 16 and
Traylor and Baston had 14 apiece.
See Page 14 for last night's
complete box score.
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