The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - January 12, 1998 -5B
ily Sports Writer
season could e
a successful one
Remarkably, in just
ide of Michigan bas
The Wolverines are
their best ball in r
ena stands are full
t; and the team is n
tead of off.
Believe it or not, it
hree months ago
day that more tha
ar's worth of allegati
d controversy fin
iled over and culmi
-'n the firing
alh Steve Fisher.
Te outlook was bl
r what fans and me
kkeportrayed to be a
4 program with d
When assistant coac
oted to the helm on a
er, the plan was to n
tion. To say the N
ished that would be
For those who nee
lieve the transfor
spiring upset of D
nked team at the tin
rena - symbolized
tball. With Elle
s er shedding tea
olverines not only b
ut them down in the
ey pulled out an 81
uous crowd to rush
A raucous crowd -
ough to make you m
am that Michigan f
inted with on and of
So, how have they
out the troubled pas
ely holds - come o
trip to the NCAA
ore? Some fans may
of these Wolverin
adness. Even more
ospect of Michigan h
ason, or maybe eve
Ha-ha, laugh it up.
three years, this g
n<ly playing to its po
uabbled about these
Credit the coach, cre
onal leadership, credi
at was Maurice Tay
termination to prove
dition of outside thr
ialk it up to the au
ichigan. Whatever t
vi come together to
idence of a conte
a they can beat an
nless they beat thems
"It was nothing tha
out Indiana after the
n 18-point loss last
Four for Michigan?
wrous, you say ...
Wolverines' six-game winning streak.
The Wolverines' confident attitude paid off on
Saturday, as they made up for a poor shooting
nd today and it will have and rebounding performance in Bloomington by
for the Michigan basket- crushing Michigan State at Crisler. The final
score was 79-69, but the Spartans were never
one half of a season, the really in the game.
ketball has been restored The Wolverines scored the first six points of
the game and had Michigan State coach Tom
ranked in the top 25, play- Izzo (call him Izzy, he loves it - and looks like
ecent memory, the Crisler a cartoon character anyway) pulling at his hair
and the fans are on their when his team had committed its fourth foul and
making news on the court trailed 12-6 just five minutes into the game.
Michigan expanded the lead to 17 by halftime
was and never looked back.
yes- It was by no means a perfect game for the
n a e C"' Wolverines, who became complacent in the sec-
ons ond half.
ally "I think we can get a lot better," Ellerbe said.
nat- "The second half we were OK. The second half
of against Penn State we were OK. I think we can
ball do something to rectify that."
Ellerbe has not been perfect either. The
eak Wolverines looked vastly underprepared for the
edia game against Indiana. And it's worth wondering
tar- why he chose not to play Brandon Smith,
efeated players. Michigan's next superstar, at all against the
h Brian Ellerbe was pro- Spartans, especially considering the closeness,
n interim basis two weeks or lack thereof, of the game.
make the best of a bad sit- "We just felt like what we were doing was
Wolverines have accom- good enough," Ellerbe said.
a major understatement. The rest of the Wolverines have room for
d something tangible to improvement as well. Maceo Baston has been
nation, the Wolverines' prone to fouling out, Jerod Ward is a liability
uke - the nation's top when he puts the ball on the floor and Travis
me, on Dec. 13 at Crisler Conlan has struggled offensively.
the rebound of Michigan But, in contrast to past seasons, players are
rbe on the sideline and finding ways to contribute even when one aspect
rs in the stands, the of their game is struggling. Conlan's play has
eat the Blue Devils, but been a prime example. Although he's had trou-
game's final minutes as ble finding the net on offense, his defense has
-73 victory, prompting a been integral in shutting down the opposition's
the court. perimeter game. Against Michigan State,
at Crisler? That alone is Conlan, despite a 0-for-2 shooting performance,
yonder if this is the same hounded the Spartans' second-leading scorer
ans have been so disap- and deadly 3-point threat Jason Klein, who did
If the court for so long. not score when Conlan was in the game.
done it? How have the Another difference between this season's
to make people forget Wolverines and previous ones is that each play-
t and look to a future that er knows his role. The guards know that the
n, it's OK to say it now - inside game takes priority, the post men know
tournament and maybe they have perimeter threats to kick out to when
still laugh at the possibil- opponents double-team inside and everyone
es making it into March realizes they can't win if they don't play
may find hilarious the defense.
laving success in the post- But the most important factors that make
n advancing to the Final Michigan so dangerous are less tangible.
The Wolverines are a group that circumstance
Laugh all you want, but has forced together. Embroiled in controversy,
eneration of Wolverines is the players, labeled underachievers since their
tential, and few have ever freshman seasons, lost the coach they loved, the
Wolverines' potential. coach who brought them to Michigan in the first
dit Robert Traylor's emo- place, when Fisher was dismissed.
t the departure of the bust As a result, the Wolverines are now a united
lor, credit Jerod Ward's bunch. Take Robert Traylor's reaction on
he isn't a bust, credit the Saturday when a Spartan got into it with Louis
eat Robbie Reid, or even Bullock. Traylor came storming down the court
ira of the University of to defend his teammate and, in the process, drew
he case, the Wolverines a technical foul.
a play well and with the "I thought I was doing my job as leader of this
nder. They firmly believe team," Traylor said.
yone in the country - And that's been the key to the Wolverines'
elves. success - each player doing his job.
t they did," Ellerbe said If all the Wolverines continue to do their job,
Hoosiers dealt Michigan they might just reach their potential - whatev-
Tuesday, snapping the er that is - after all.
Quote of the Week
S" guess it was just my
- Michigan center Robert
Ta or discussing his
tehnical foul against
Player of the Week
The junior center continued
to dominate the opposition,
scoring 45 points and 21
rebounds in games against
Indiana and Michigan State.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -
Antawn Jamison scored seven of his 26
points during a 1:05 span in the second
half and No. 1 North Carolina made a
season-high 35 free throws Saturday to
beat Virginia 81-73.
The Tar Heels (4-0 ACC, 17-0 over-
all) won for the 33rd time in their last
34 games. The Cavaliers (1-2, 8-7),
who fell to 3-55 in Chapel Hill and 0-
13 in the Smith Center, were led by
Norman Nolan with 29 points.
Vince Carter added 18 points for the
Tar Heels, while Staples had 20 for
Virginia, which shot 54.5 percent in the
No. 2 DUKE 75, No. 13 FLORIDA
Roshown McLeod scored a career-
high 25 points and Duke survived a
cold-shooting second half to hand the
Seminoles their second straight loss.
Reserves Shane Battier and Chris
Carrawell added 12 and 10 points,
respectively, for Duke, which shot only
28.1 percent in the second half.
The Seminoles (1-3 ACC, 12-4)
pulled within 61-58 with 4:28 left on a
jump hook by Corey Louis, but were
unable to get any closer.
No. 4 KANSAS 102, TEXAS 72
Billy Thomas was 6-of-6 from 3-
point range in the second half and Paul
Pierce scored 31 points as the Jayhawks
handed the Longhorns their worst
home loss in 14 years.
Thomas, who was 9-of-13 from the
field, including 8-of-I I from 3-point
range, took over in the second half as
Kansas (3-0 Big 12, 19-2) pulled away
from a 39-25 halftime lead. He finished:
with 27 points and Lester Earl added
15. Luke Axtell scored 18 points to
lead Texas (0-3, 6-8), which lost its'
third straight. The loss was the worst at -
home for Texas since a 103-72 defeat
by SMU in 1984.
No. 5 ARIZONA 110, WASHINGTON 91
Michael Dickerson scored 24 points,
including four 3-pointers, and Mike
Bibby had 20 to lead Arizona.
The Wildcats (4-0 Pac-10, 13-3),
who led by 20 at halftime and by 34
twice in the second half, also got 18
points from Miles Simon.
There was nowhere to go for Spartan center Duiuan Wiley as Michigan's Maceo Baston and the
Wolverines' defense put a clamp on Michigan State, holding the Spartans to 37 percent shooting.
Cleaves struggles in return
By Jim Rose
Daily Sports Editor
He had been getting lots of good press late-
ly. He was supposed to be the key to a feisty
Michigan State team and the frontman of an
explosive, perimeter-oriented offense.
Mateen Cleaves, point-guard extraordinaire
-- he of the infamous recruiting visit and
Maurice Taylor car accident - was leading the
Big Ten in assists, leading his team in scoring,
steals and minutes, and, most important of all,
leading his Spartans into Ann Arbor to show
the locals exactly what they missed out on
when Cleaves chose Michigan State over
He was 4-for-19.
To be fair, Cleaves did score 14 points, he
did have five assists and he did have five
steals. But his poor shooting and five turnovers
were far more indicative of what he did for the
Spartans - or, perhaps more accurately, for
the Wolverines - on Saturday afternoon.
The Spartans struggled from the very begin-
ning, and Cleaves was unable to get them on
track. By halftime, he was I-of-8 shooting the
ball, with three turnovers and a couple of fouls.
All Michigan State coach Tom Izzo would
say was that "Mateen struggled a little bit,"
which was less than enlightening. But
Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe gave Louis
Bullock much of the credit for Cleaves' prob-
"Lou did a terrific job shutting down Mateen
Cleaves," Ellerbe said. "That was the key to the
game, without question."
Heading into Saturday's game, Cleaves was
the only player in the Big Ten to be ranked in
the conference's top 10 in scoring (tied for sev-
enth), assists (first) and steals (fourth).
On the other side of the ball, Michigan's
guards were not exactly stellar offensively -
but they didn't have to be, thanks mostly to the
Wolverines' size advantage in the post.
For Michigan State, however, the same could
not be said. As Cleaves goes, so go the
Spartans. And as Izzo pointed out, Cleaves
"struggled a little bit" - so the Spartans did as
Twin Towers dominate small Spartans
By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports writer
Shaped to fit an Abbott and Costello silhou-
ette - albeit a bit taller - Robert Traylor and
Maceo Baston are opposites in the physical
Traylor, a mountain of a man, stands as an
immovable object at 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, while
Baston tops out at 6-9 - but with a frame thin
as a rail.
Saturday, before an
unusually large Crisler
Arena crowd, the two
played in near harmony, as
if they conspired to domi-
From the first posses-.
sion of the game, Michigan a
State felt the fury they tan-
gled with for the rest of the
afternoon. Traylor, setting Traylor
up camp in the low post, received a pass and pro-
ceeded to drop in a sweet jumper for the game's
Most of Traylor's shots are emotional, and this
conversion was no different setting the tone for
Michigan's 79-69 victory over the Spartans.
"I was kind of excited," said the mammoth
Traylor. "But that's just me."
That enthusiasm manifested itself in a sterling
first half for Baston and Traylor, and the duo
pushed Michigan to a runaway with a combined
27 points and eight rebounds. The 27 points were
just a single point below the entire Michigan
State output, certifying the dominance of the tan-
After playing together for three seasons, a cer-
tain synergy between the two has emerged. Take,
for example, when a loose ball careened out of
bounds under the basket with 1I minutes left in
the first half.
Baston, with his seven-foot wingspan,
snatched the ball from a
certain turnover and fed
Traylor for a dunk behind
him. That connection, they
ability to see what the other
is accomplishing even
before he begins the
motion, has established
them as national force.
"Interior passing isn't an,
easy thing to do," Michigan
coach Brian Ellerbe said, in
reference to the distribution Baston
skills of his big men. "They have grasped what
we're trying to do."
Having three NBA prospects across the front
line (Jerod Ward is also expected to play pro ball)
makes any coach's job easier, especially when
the forwards in question know their talent.
"Me and Robert are among the top players in
the nation," Baston said without hesitation.
"One-on-one in the post, we can do anything we
Antonio Smith and DuJuan Wiley, for better
or worse the extent of Michigan State's smallish
front line, were overwhelmed all game long and
did whatever they could to halt Traylor and
Wiley, despite possessing Michigan State's
largest body at 6-9, 230, picked up four fouls -
by halftime - trying to defend the wiry Baston.
As a consequence, free throws became , a
Michigan ally, with Baston shooting 12 before
In addition to their 43 points on the offensive
end, controlling the boards and limiting chances
defensively added to their dominance.
Michigan State entered the game as the top
rebounding team in the Big Ten, averaging 10
more boards per game than its opponents.
But the Wolverines altered that statistic finish-
ing with a 36-33 rebound advantage, using their
big bodies to box out and control the caroms.
The unity Traylor and Baston displayed in
posting large numbers spilled off the floor after
Michigan guard Louis Bullock fouled Michigan
State guard David Thomas on a breakaway.
Tempers flared as Thomas and Bullock nearly
came to blows. Then Traylor stepped in, assum-
ing the role of bodyguard for the smaller
"My job is being a leader on this team,"
Traylor said. "I thought I was doing what I was
supposed to be doing"
Despite the lack of a verbal exchange - the
Michigan co-captain maintained he didn't speak
-Traylor received a technical foul.
Ever confident in his stature, he ventured an
idea as to the referee's thinking.
"I guess it was just my physical presence."
ichigan center Robert Traylor makes his point to fellow WoF
partans got the idea as well. The 300-pound junior smacked
ontinued from Page 18
higan a 36-20 lead and bringing the crowd to its
On the next possession, Morris Peterson was fouled
y Bullock, and when Peterson took exception to the
oul, Traylor received a technical for rushing to
ullock's aid. But of the four ensuing foul shots (two for
he foul and two for the technical), the Spartans made
verine Jerod Ward, but somehow the
Michigan State for 23 points.
MICHIGAN STATE (69)
FQ FT RES
MIN M-A -A OT A F PTS
Hutson 20 3-4 0-0 3.7 2 4 11
Klein 34 5-13 4-9 2-3 1 1 17
Smith 32 2-5 2-4 3-12 1 1 6
Cleaves 36 4-19 4-6 0-0 5 4 14
Bell 21 2-4 2-2 0-2 1 1 7
Thomas 10 0-0 0-0 0-3 0 2 0
Davis 4 0-0 0-00-0 000
Peterson 20 2-5 0-2 0-3 1 5 6
Granger 13 2-5 0-0 0-0 0 2 5
Wiley 10 1-2 1-2 0-1 0 4 3
Totals 200 21-57 17-2610-33 1.127 69
FG%: .368. FT%: .680. 3-point FG: 11126, .385
Gee leads Illii into first place, 59-44
EVANSTON (AP) - Jarrod Gee was slow
to start, but when he got going he demonstrat-
INDIANA 83, OHIo STATE 66
Luke Recker and Charlie Miller, held to two
PENN STATE 75, MINNESOTA 68
Calvin Booth scored a career-high 23 points