6B - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - November 17, 1997
Same old Crisler, same old team
By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports Writer
Saturday night, Crisler Arena felt the same as it
.,Brian Dutcher sat on the Michigan bench as an
assistant coach, screaming instructions at the
players on the floor, as he has for the past 10 sea-
The stands in the House That Cazzie Built
remained half-full - on par with the level of sup-
po-t normally seen at Crisler.
And, as if to maintain _
blew a significant lead late
irf the game, losing to an
Michigan, which held
an IlI-point lead with
1:28 to play, collapsed
down the stretch, suc-
cUhbing to Western
But does anyone care?
Robert Traylor, despite an intense effort that
ntted 22 points, entered the interview room
downtrodden, but hardly dismayed.
"They stepped up their game a notch or two,"
Tfhylor said in reference to the final 10-minute
stretch, when the Broncos surged to the victory.
That's right, they didn't just surge into the lead,
-but into the win, responding to the Il-point
'deficit with a 13-2 run.
Traylor's statement, while entirely accurate, is
only half of what should be expected from
Michigan. Why didn't the Wolverines step their
game up a notch or two?
Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe was hardly any
more help in trying to determine the cause of the
"We didn't play well," he said while calmly
answering questions. "You expect them to be
scrappy, and they had two guys who played very
If that extra effort on Western's part was
expected, then why wasn't Michigan prepared?
For that matter, where was the Wolverines' extra
Their pressure defense sat in a blue sport jack-
et on the Michigan bench - in the person of
But the problem was not Conlan's absence -
he's out for a month with a broken wrist. That
only magnified a larger issue - the lack of hus-
Maybe the Wolverines believed that this game
was in the bag before it began.
Michigan, ranked 20th in the coaches' poll
before the loss, is a program of national promi-
nence that draws recruits from the far reaches of
the nation. Western Michigan isn't even a team
that draws attention within the state, and has to
fight for recruits with its Mid-American
Conference brethren for the Wolverines' left-
But Saturday, that was all forgotten as
Michigan left its own gym - in its first game no
less - physically, if not mentally, defeated.
"They went at all of our guys," Ellerbe said.
"We didn't execute."
Michigan possessed an advantage before step-
ping on the court - at least in Western Michigan
coach Bob Donewald's eyes.
The Broncos' coach, whose previous Crisler
experience was as a Bobby Knight assistant at
Indiana, considered the Michigan mystique a fac-
Before the game, "I thought of all the great
players who have played in this arena," Donewald
But he hesitated to share his thoughts with his
team - not that the Broncos would have cared.
The intense focus Western displayed kept them
in the game throughout the nip-and-tuck first
half. While Michigan maintained a slight two-
point lead at the break, the margin was inconse-
quential -- for as in most college basketball
games, the last 10 minutes were the pivotal
So Michigan should not have been surprised
when Saddi Washington led the Broncos back
from the I11-point deficit.
In a scene emblematic of the difference one
player can make, Washington chipped away at
Michigan's margin. Unlike the Wolverines, the 6-
foot-3 guard knew when the game was on the line.
"I looked up at the clock and we were down
three,' he said. "When I looked up again, it was
"Zero-zero - time to play ball."
But Washington's time had already come, as he
scored 13 points to vault the Broncos into the
lead. From then on, it was easy for Western.
Washington forced a steal, hit a 3-pointer and left
Michigan on the losing end in the opener.
Washington's 33-point outing was the highest
individual total against Michigan in nine years.
And yet Washington emerged unfazed by the
"I don't feel the pressure;" he said. "I was con-
fident in my shot and my teammates found me. It
was feeling good every time."
While Washington's stroke consistently found
the bottom of the net, Louis Bullock's did not.
Bullock, Michigan's leading returning scorer,
managed just one field goal and no 3-pointers on
One would expect Bullock to be concerned
about his performance, right?
The junior sharpshooter said the misses didn't
affect his decision to keep the ball flying from the
"Shooting has a lot to do with confidence;" he
said. "I have a lot of confidence. That won't stop
me from shooting."
Which begs the question: Why was Bullock the
All indications would point to Traylor on the
inside as the catalyst for the Wolverines in a tight
game. And yet his only points in the last 14 min-
utes came on two tip-ins and a couple of free
The only possible explanation - Traylor's
seven turnovers - is quickly negated when his
size advantage is considered.
The Michigan center- one of the largest play-
ers in the nation at 6-foot-9, 300 pounds -- is
large enough to give the Western frontcourt a bear
hug, let alone dunk over it repeatedly. The
Broncos countered with three players, all of
whom were 6-foot-7 and none of whom weighed
in at more than 223.
So where was the Tractor and why didn't he
have the ball in crunch time?
Louis Bullock shields the ball from a Western Michigan defender. Bullock had a poor day from the
field, and the Broncos beat the Wolverines, 68-63.
Ellerbe maintained the Wolverines "put the ball
inside an awful lot" according to the bench statis-
tics. Unfortunately for Michigan, the post touch-
es didn't result in points, and the Wolverines went
game to the Broncos. The first game left too m
questions about play on the floor - especially ib-
a game that Michigan should have dominated.
And only one question was appropriate follow-
ing the Wolverines' collapse: Where was the NIT
home with the loss.
Too many mistakes (24 turnovers)
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BAS KET BALL
Continued from Page 18
ever going to score," Western coach Bob Donewald said.
But in the remaining time, the Wolverines did practically
everything they could to help the Broncos get back on track.
Sixteen of the Wolverines' 24 turnovers came in the second half,
and the majority of those occurred during a 13-2 Broncos run
that tied the game at 55 with 3:34 to go.
The game was tied again at 57 when Washington picked off
a pass from Michigan freshman Brandon Smith, who caught up
to foul Washington at the other end of the court.
After Washington made both free throws, the Wolverines
turned the ball over again on the ensuing possession, and
Washington capitalized, nailing his final 3-pointer to extend the
Broncos' lead to 62-57 with one minute left.
A Traylor tip-in got the Wolverines back within 65-63 with
20 seconds to go, but that was as close as they would get.
"We just kind of got outplayed down the stretch," said
Traylor, who scored a team-high 22 points and played a game-
high 39 minutes. "They made a lot of big plays. We turned the
ball over and they capitalized on every mistake we made,"
The Wolverines' collapse was almost a mirror image of the
one against Athletes in Action on Nov. 3. In that game, the first
of Michigan's two exhibition contests, the Wolverines blew
13-point lead midway through the second half and ended up
ing the game, 95-93.
In both games, Michigan was without senior point guard
Travis Conlan down the stretch. Conlan broke his wrist during
the second half against AIA, ending a brilliant 19-point perfor-
mance. He is expected to miss the first month of the season.
"We're going to miss (Conlan)," Ellerbe said. "Buuwe're not
going to use that as a crutch."
Robbie Reid played 38 minutes and scored just two points,
while Bullock was unusually quiet despite going 10-of-10 from
the free-throw line. Bullock shot just 1-of-9 from the field and
missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc, ending*
streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer at 44. Maceo
Baston, who pulled down 11 rebounds in the game, extended
the Wolverines' lead to 16-10, when he left his feet and slam
dunked an offensive rebound before landing aain But
Washington kept the Broncos close, scoring 14 first-half points.
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PLAO4S, MITCHELL FIELO
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AT MSU, FELPAUSCH TOURNAMENT
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vs OHIO STATE
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CCRB MAIN GYM
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