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November 13, 1997 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-11-13

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

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On a mission



Puerto Rico Classic to
be Sunday's showcase

nur Y,IN oven er i,~ -

New point guard Robbie Reid is out to prove he is Michigan's missing link

By Mark Snyder
or all Robbie Reid knew, the
sounds from the surrounding citi-
zens were gibberish. The native
tongue of Greece was foreign to the
Utah-raised Reid. But he was a quick
There was little doubt about his abili-
ty to eventually adapt to a new lan-
guage, but this situation was more
intense than five afternoons in a foreign
language class - it was an entirely new
But Reid, the newest addition to the
Michigan basketball team, knew what
awaited him in Greece. From the begin-
ning of his Mormon Church mission in
July 1995, the plan was clear. He would
spend two years overseas aiding those
less fortunate while spreading his
Most Mormons give a little of them-
selves on their mission - whether it be
time, effort or a little of each - and
Reid was no different.
"Most of the time (on the mission)
was spent talking to people about what
we believe," Reid says. "Also, we did
various service activities in the commu-
nity, wherever they needed help.
Handicap centers, old folks' homes,
cleaning parks -just whatever we
could do to help."
While Reid fits the profile of a altru-
istic young man - he tosses around
overly genuine expressions like "to be
honest", "for sure" and "no worries"
without a second thought - his desire
to serve others impeded his athletic
Every day of his youth, Reid was on
the go. He would shuffle between bas-
ketball practice, baseball workouts and

the school day without a bother.
The continued movement became
intrinsic and each day was just another
chance to play.
But Greece accorded few opportuni-
ties for such a release. Sun-up brought
chores and sundown saw more humani-
tarian work for the natural athlete.
Reid's devotion to his mission con-
sumed him.
"I did very little," Reid says. "I
played very little the first few months I
was there. And for the last 15 months I
was there, I didn't shoot a ball at a real
So after 21 years of sweat and work
on the court and the field, the young
man halted his two-sport athletic addic-
tion - he was drafted by the San Diego
Padres as a lefthanded baseball pitcher
- and refocused his life.
"I think my missionary experience
really helped me gain a perspective that
every day I'm going to get better," he
Reid's intention to return to the
United States and resume his previous
life ran into a minor roadblock in
December 1996.
While Robbie was still overseas, his
father, Roger, was fired as the basket-
ball coach at Brigham Young. The news
traveled by phone but Robbie felt the
pain as if he were by his father's side.
Along with his older brother, Randy,
Robbie grew up to play for his father,
and breathed basketball - in and out of
the home.
So his father's dismissal impacted
him, not only as a son, but as an athlete
as well.
Alone and troubled, Reid dealt with
the emotions in a positive manner.
"It was really tough for me," Robbie

said. "There were lots of times when I
cried and I hurt. I had a great life and
now I knew nobody and had to learn a
new language - it really made me
And yet, that growth was only the
beginning for the point guard from
Spanish Fork, Utah.
His father's firing opened the door
for Robbie -- who left Brigham Young
after his sophomore season - to select
a new school upon his return to the
United States.
From nearly the moment he set foot
on U.S. soil, suitors emerged for the
gritty point guard. Illinois and Michigan
were among the finalists - primarily
because of their coaches.
"It was very difficult (to decide),"
Reid says. "I was fortunate enough to
be looking at four very good programs
with great coaches. I had a great rela-
tionship with coach Lon Kruger at
Illinois. But I still felt like this was the
best place."
At the time of his decision, Michigan
outweighed the competition for two pri-
mary reasons - Steve Fisher was still
Michigan's coach, and Michigan's base-
ball team reigned as Big Ten champion.
But now, things are different in Ann
Arbor. In a manner similar to Roger
Reid's firing, Fisher was shown the
door just a week before Michigan was
to begin practice.
While immediate speculation cen-
tered on other candidates to fill Fisher's
position, Roger Reid began to campaign
to once again coach his son.
Michigan Athletic Director Tom
Goss's search for Fisher's replacement
led him to Reid as the final candidate.
A last-minute interview led to radio
reports that claimed Goss had offered
the job to Reid.
The offer suggested a family reunion
in Ann Arbor, a Reid dream which was
abruptly rejected.
Instead, the position fell to assistant
coach Brian Ellerbe.
The disappointment was just another
freefall in Reid's rollercoaster journey
to Michigan.
"To be honest, I've tried to take it in
stride," Reid said on media day. "I've
been in the country around 115 days and
everything from the time I arrived in the
country has been whirlwinding by.
"I'm just trying to do what I can do
and control what I can control and the
other things will take care of them-
selves. I've tried not to get too emotion-
ally out of whack."
Putting the distractions behind him,
however, may be more difficult than he
could have anticipated. His father
remains unemployed, and has attended
two Michigan practices as a spectator
since Ellerbe took over.
But Ellerbe is trying to keep Reid's
focus on basketball. Since Ellerbe's
ascension to the top spot, he has intro-
duced a new, aggressive philosophy,
spearheaded by Reid's relentless effort.
"I'd like to think that I'm a very
intense player and very competitive," he
says. "We've got some great offensive
players on the team, so my main role

will be distributing the ball and making
sure they get the shots that they need."
While Michigan's frontourt is some-
what lacking in depth - Robert Traylor
and Maceo Baston are the only return-
ing players with significant experience
- Reid may be able to help out.
Despite standing just 6-foot-1, Reid
uses every inch of his muscular frame
in positioning for rebounds.
In fact, he ranks as the sec-
ond-leading rebounder in°
Utah high school history
- behind 7-6 Shawn
"How many players
do you see today with.
great athleticism that{
end up being
mediocre players?"
he asks. "To me,
that's sad. I'm a guy~
who's got some athlet-
ic ability, but compared
to some of these guys -
not even close. I have to work
hard to have the success that I
do have."n
But it is his will to win that ,
sets him a notch above the
taller players pining for the
same rebounds. At Michigan, >
the little things make a big dif-
ference, yet Reid knows intan-
gibles are difficult to pinpoint.
"I do what it takes to win,"
Reid says. "That makes it hard,
I guess, to point out what that
is, but I'd like to think that
means making a couple threes
in a row and making a couple of
great passes or defensive stops.
"My role this year is going to
be to make sure the guys who can
score get the ball."
At Brigham Young, Reid played the
point and shot the ball. His 37-percent
clip from 3-point range established him
as one of the WAC's deadliest shooters,
a trait Ellerbe can already see.
"Robbie brings some stability and
depth to the backcourt," Ellerbe says.
"Right now, we know that he can shoot
in open floor situations."
But Ellerbe's excitement is tempered
with caution - primarily because of
Reid's sabbatical from the game.
"He's been off for two years," the
coach said. "That's an awful long time
to come back and play basketball -
and this is the highest level possible."
Ellerbe attempted to utilize Reid's tal-
ents from the first game.
Michigan's lineup against Athletes In
Action on Nov. 3 debuted with Reid at
the point in a three-guard set.
With sharpshooter Louis Bullock at
shooting guard and usual point guard
Travis Conlan positioning himself as a
swingman, a new philosophy was born.
Unfortunately for Michigan, Conlan's
fractured wrist shelved that idea for
another three weeks - placing even
more pressure on Reid, who is still
adapting to the Michigan system.
That adjustment is made more diffi-
cult by Reid's non-stop movement -
away from the court.

Reid's typical fall day, prior to the
official start of basketball practice,
rivaled the nonstop excitement of a
WAC basketball game - all-out, all the
In just a 24-hour span, he would
work out with his basketball teammates,
practice his pitching techniques with the
baseball team, devote numerous hours
to his church and attend entry-level
classes for admission into the Business
A contiuous schedule "is some-
thing I have done since the time I
was little. I played basketball,
baseball and went to school;'
says the former high school
valedictorian. "As a mis-
sionary for two years, I
was very busy as well. It's
good and hopefully keeps
me out of trouble."
Out of trouble and on
the court is exactly
where Ellerbe hopes to
see Reid for his remain-
ing two years of eligibili-
His ball-handling skills
bring a dimension to
Michigan unseen since
the days of Gary Grant.
And as a point
guard, Reid's age -
he turned 23 on June
8 - should help
bring a steady matu-
rity to the tempera-
mental Wolverines.
"I've never been
a guy that will just
come out and start
demanding leader-
ship," Reid says. "I'd
like to think that by
what I do, that comes
"As the players
get more used to
me, and as we
start playing
games, my
strengths will
come out."
For all Reid's tal-
00 ents, his most important
R attribute may be his unre-
strained confidence.
Reid is sure he fits the profile as
Michigan's next clutch threat despite his
hiatus from the game.
"I still have some quickness to get
back," he says. "Just playing and getting
in better shape will help. I'm going to
be as good a player or better (than at
Brigham Young).
"I really like to think that when the
lights come on, I do as well."
Now, he's just waiting for regular-sea-
son games - along with the florescents
above - to spark his game.
With four months of American life
under his belt, Reid's Greek experience
is in the past, but not forgotten.
"I'm still adjusting back after not
playing for a couple years competitive-
ly," he says. But "I know I'm going to
be there when it counts."

Duke solid
- again
When Duke loses only once in 104
games to non-conference opponents on
its home floor and then falls to ... let's
say, Michigan, in front of the Cameron
Indoor Stadium fanatics, wouldn't you
think that the Blue Devils will have 105
on their minds heading into Crisler
And to make matters worse for the
Wolverines, the Blue Devils probably
won't forget the way they lost to
Michigan. Down eight points with four
minutes remaining in the game, the
Wolverines came back to defeat the
Blue Devils, 62-61, on Dec. 8, 1996.
Duke players will still have memories of
Robert Traylor's game-winning dunk
with 6.2 seconds left on the clock.
But what was more frustrating to
Duke was that it had the ball and could
have won the game in the final minute.
But Trajan Langdon's pass landed in
Maceo Baston's hands to seal the game.
"We totally gave them the game,"
Langdon said. "In our building, that's
sad. I can't believe it."
The Blue Devils regrouped nicely,
finishing the season with a No. 8
national ranking and a 24-9 record. The
scary thing is that this year's team looks
to be much better - the deepest and
most potential-laden of Duke coach
Mike Krzyzewski's teams since the days
of Christian Laettner and Grant Hill.
The 1997-98 Blue Devils return a
solid nucleus with four of their starters
back. Langdon, the team's leading scor-
er last year with 14.3 points per game
joins the gritty, turnover-free Steve
Wojciechowski in the backcourt.
Ricky Price, who has averaged more
than 10 points in each of his first three
years at Duke, won't play against
Michigan because he is academically
ineligible for the first semester.
But Coach K should have no prob-
lems with depth because Duke boasts
one of the top freshman classes in the
country. Detroit Country Day product
Shane Battier - the 1997 Naismith
National High School Player of the Year
- and Chris Burgess should bolster an
already solid frontline.
Michigan believes that its rough off-
season won't mean that Duke isn't going}
to come into December's game focused.
"Just because we had adversity, that
doesn't mean Duke isn't going to come
knocking on our door, come Dec. 13;'
Michigan guard Louis Bullock said.
"We know they are going to come in and
that's going to give them even more rea-
son to want to beat us."
- James Goldstein

There's nothing quite like a compet-
itive college basketball tournament in
the dead of winter.
Especially if it involves Horned
Frogs, Billikens, Billy Tubbs and
Nolan Richardson. Not to mention that
it's in Puerto Rico.
Michigan will be one of eight teams
spending Christmas in San Juan to par-
ticipate in the Holiday Classic, hosted
by American University of Puerto Rico.
Texas Christian, Saint Louis,
Arkansas, Iowa State, Syracuse,
Murray State and UNLV are all slated
to join Michigan and American.
The three-day tourney guarantees
each team three games, but narrows the
field to a pair of unbeatens for the tour-
nament championship on Dec. 26.
High-profile coaches and cool mas-
cots aside, perhaps the most interesting
story of this tournament comes from
Arkansas, where forward Sunday
Adebayo will see his first big-time
action after sitting out the first semes-
ter of the season in order to qualify
Adebayo originally played for and
was a starter at Arkansas, but was
declared ineligible in mid-February

1996, by the NCAA, amidst a long-
running investigation of the Arkansas
basketball program. Adebayo trans-
ferred to Memphis, where he started 23
of 26 games and led the Tigers in
rebounding, while averaging 13 points
per game.
After the season, and after the con-
clusion of the NCAA's investigation,
Adebayo and Arkansas petitioned the
NCAA to reinstate Adebayo.
In a highly unusual move, the
NCAA reviewed the case and decided
that Adebayo, in fact, had never done
anything wrong.
He was "exonerated of any wrongdo-
ing in July of 1997," according to the
school's athletic department, and he
will complete his college eligibility in
the second half of the upcoming season,
assuming he is academically eligible.
Another interesting story comes
from Iowa State, which will face this
season without any of the five starters
that led last year's team to the NCAA
tournament's Sweet Sixteen.
Ten newcomers will join Stevie
Johnson, who, at 4.1 points per game, is
the Cyclones' leading returning scorer.
- Jim Rose

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