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March 09, 1998 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-09

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday, March 9, 1998 - 5B

Player of the Week
Robbie Reid
The Michigan guard torched
opponents, going 10 of 15 from 3-
point land in three Big Ten
Tournament games.

4ore hardware for VP Traylor
ark Snyder Traylor is making a fast habit of collecting hard- six blocks.
Sports Editor ware. He garnered the same honor after the Traylor's value will only become more important
IICAGO - The table, about three feet off the Wolverines' NIT title run last spring and dominated as the NCAA Tournament approaches.
nd, was only the initial obstacle for Robert the competition this past December at the Puerto Should Michigan, the No. 3 seed in the South, sur-
or. Rico Classic. vive its first-round matchup with Davidson, it likely
it the Wolverine center had dealt with adversity While remarkably confident in his own abilities, would face UCLA in the next round.
e, and this time, problems were of little conse- Traylor remained modest when discussing his domi- The Bruins are shorthanded in the paint following
ce for the hulking man. nance in the paint. the departure of center Jelani McCoy, who left the
nutes earlier, he had captained Michigan to the "We have a great team, he said. "I waited until it team last month due to "media scrutiny."
Big Ten Tournament championship in the was my turn. In the second half, I got some great That could mean more post play for Michigan and
te's 96-year basketball history. But this moment shots and was able to score." more touches for Traylor.
eserved for him. Traylor's performance left little doubt that he And while Traylor posed for the camera, danced
front of 21,000 fans and the legion of CBS deserved his most recent accolade. He finished the his way up the ladder to snip the net and led his team-
ers, all Traylor wanted was to hug was his tournament in grand style, posting 24 points and mates in "The Victors," his concern remains on
Imother - and nothing was going to stand in pulling down 13 rebounds against Brad Miller, also what's next.
ay. an all-Tournament team selection. This Friday will be Traylor's first NCAA tourna-
e Michigan families and fans, situated - but And after a day of butting heads with Traylor, ment game in his three seasons at Michigan. He
y seated - in Section 119 were blocked by Miller was worn out. missed out his freshman year with a broken arm and
impediments - two press row tables and a "I think he weighs about 300 pounds, and I'm watched on television last season as the selection
g. pushing 240 on a good day," Miller said. "You have committee left the Wolverines out of their postseason
aylor, who at 6-foot-9 and 300 pounds was eas- to get on him and have to try not to let him get the party.
te largest person on the floor, soon became the ball. When you have that much weight on you, he's With several key Wolverines graduating this sea-
st person off it as he bounded over the tables to going to wear you down and he'll have more leverage son, Traylor realizes this may be his last opportunity
the triumph with his grandmother, Jessie Mae on you." for a real tournament run.
r. It seemed as if Traylor was out to answer his crit- After three smaller awards and tournaments, in
tantly, the pair embraced. But Traylor, eager to ics this weekend. Suggestions that his rebounding which Traylor has played to moderate audiences, the
his thoughts with Carter, was forced to hold was subpar were rapidly dismissed as he compiled a nation will start taking notice on Friday.
tournament-high 16 rebounds in Michigan's opener Minnesota guard Eric Harris - a casualty of
didn't have a chance to say much," Traylor said. against Iowa. Traylor's tournament run - is glad to warn them
did all the talking." As if there was any doubt that Traylor would ele- ahead of time.
rtunately for Michigan, Traylor did his talking vate his game in the postseason, he sounded off on "Robert Traylor is probably the best big man in the
g Michigan's championship-game victory over that as well. country," Harris said.
ue as he rolled to the Most Valuable Player His 17.3 points and 12.7 rebounds per game in the Even the best of big men listen when their grand-
I for the tournament. tournament exceeded his season averages as did his mother is talking.

Robert Traylor drives toward the basket in Michigan's victory over Purdue yester-
day. The Wolverines' big man and Big Ten Tournament MVP averaged 17.3 points
and 12.7 rebounds for the tournament.

Big Ten Tournament fially a reality
Reviews mixed as postseason tournament sees shares of highs and lows

By Dan Stillman
Daily Sports Editor
CHICAGO - The inaugural Big Ten
Tournament had its moments, however few and
far between they were.
Despite two coaches' objections, the tourna-
ment finally became a reality this past week
inside the United Center - home of Chicago's
Bulls and Blackhawks.
Ironically, the two teams whose coaches
voted against the tournament - Bobby
Knight's Hoosiers and Clem Haskins' Golden
Gophers - probably needed the tournament
The Hoosiers, losers of four of their final six
regular-season games, came to Chicago as an
NCAA Tournament bubble team, looking for a
couple of victories to secure a bid to the Big
Dance. The Gophers, who entered the tourna-
ment 13-14 overall and 6-1 in the conference,
needed to win the tournament and take the
conference's automatic NCAA bid if they were
to continue in the postseason.
As it turned out, the eighth-seeded Gophers
showed promise with a win over Northwestern
and followed by their big upset of the No. 1
seed, Michigan State, before being knocked
out in the semifinals by the eventual tourna-

ment champs, Michigan.
Meanwhile, Indiana's victory over. Ohio
State in the first round was enough to get the
Hoosiers into the NCAAs. Nevertheless,
Knight maintained his position.
"If I vote again tonight, I would still say no,"
said Knight following the Ohio State game.
"But, I had my say, and the majority of people
wanted it and that's the way it should be."
And now that it's over, the reviews have been
While Michigan and Minnesota provided
some excitement, neither the Wolverines' suc-
cess nor the Gophers' surprises were complete-
ly unexpected, as both were on a roll down the
stretch of the conference season.
Here are the rest of the highs and lows from
the tournament:
HIGH: Legendary coaches Bobby Knight,
Gene Keady and Clem Haskins all in one
place. While Knight usually steals the show,
Purdue's Keady had his share of lines during
the week.
"(My players) thought they were tired," said
Keady after Purdue beat Illinois on Saturday.
"But after the first timeout, I told them they,
weren't tired, and they believed me."
Low: Mateen Cleaves. The Michigan State

guard and Big Ten Player of the Year put on a
horrid display. Cleaves shot a season-low 2 for
18 from the field in the Spartans loss to
Minnesota on Friday.
HIGH: Reported attendance. The announced
paid attendance of 21,711 for yesterday's
championship brought the five-session total to
Low: Actual attendance. Besides Friday
night's Purdue-Indiana game, the United
Center stands were consistently not filled to
capacity, especially for yesterday's champi-
onship game.
HIGH: Close first-day games. All four
games on Thursday were close late in the sec-
ond halves. Wisconsin used a 26-10 run
against Penn State to win by one point.
Low: The semifinals. Both games on
Saturday were well in hand by midway through
the second half, qualifying as snoozers.
Neither Illinois nor Minnesota - Purdue's and
Michigan's opponents - provided much of a
HIGH: Big Ten teams joining the rest of the
country in playing meaningful and interesting
games on the last weekend of the season.
Low: Watching the Big Ten Tournament
instead of the ACC Tournament.

Cleaves, Michigan State disappoint

His previous worst shooting game was a
4-19 (.211) outing in a loss to Michigan in
"I really couldn't get my shot going
today," Cleaves said. "I just have to go back
and look at the film and learn. I try to learn
from every game."
Cleaves attempted a last-minute 3-point-
er to tie the game, but like most of his
shots, the ball ricocheted away.
Much of Cleaves' disappointing after-
noon was due to the efforts of Minnesota
senior point guard Eric Harris, who was up
for the challenge against the conference's
top player.
"Give him a lot of credit," said Harris,
who torched Cleaves and the Spartans for a
game-high 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting,
including 4 of 6 from the 3-point stripe..
"He's improved so much on his freshman to
sophomore year."
Harris, who scored 23 points in the first
half alone, was able to penetrate at will and
drain treys with Cleaves in his face. If
Cleaves had his 'A' game, it could've been
a mano-a-mano point-guard duel, but
Friday was not Cleaves' day.
"He's the man on that team," Harris said.
"I expected him to take the big shots.
Fortunately, he didn't make them at the
Although Cleaves did end up with 13

points, six assists and four steals, he also
turned the ball over six times. That's two
more giveaways than Cleaves committed in
his previous four games combined.
For the season, Cleaves averaged 15.6
points, 7.6 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 26
The Spartans (13-3 Big Ten, 20-6 over-
all) - headed into the conference tourna-
ment after an overtime loss to Purdue on
the last day of the regular season.
The loss to Minnesota hurt, but the
Spartans won't let it take away from their
successful regular season.
"It's a disappointing loss," Michigan
State coach Tom Izzo said. "We didn't play
defense the way we are capable of, and I
don't know why.
"We are not going to let this damper
what we have accomplished, but we need to
start playing good defense again."
Cleaves will have his hands full with 5-
foot-5 Earl Boykins in the first round of
the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State, which was projected to
be a No. 2 seed, will play Eastern Michigan
as a No. 4 seed on Thursday in Hartford's
Civic Center.
"Now we know what we have to do when
we're playing in a one-game elimination
tournament," Cleaves said. "The season's
not over, we have a long way to go."

Continued from Page 1B
anyone has a right to feel cheated out of all-Tournament hon-
ors, he's the one. Playing much of the weekend in an off-
guard/small forward role with Robbie Reid bringing the ball
up the court, Conlan managed to score, facilitate the offense
and still play his usual stellar defense.
Reid, who had made just I l of his past 71 treys prior to the
tournament, hit 10-for-15 from behind the 3-point arc to
spark the Wolverines this weekend. When Reid's shot is
falling, Michigan's offense goes from good to nearly unstop-
But the most impressive part of the whole weekend was the
way the Wolverines won yesterday. For much of the season,
it's been pretty simple: if Louis Bullock doesn't shoot well,
Michigan loses. Period. But yesterday, Bullock couldn't shoot
the ball into Lake Michigan. The Wolverines won anyway,
and did so against a tough Purdue team. It's the latest sign of
growth from a team that already has a penchant for rising to
the occasion in games that matter - and it's certainly an
encouraging sign for next weekend.
After all the events of the past several months, a couple
things can be said about the Wolverines: They play well in
tournaments (they've won their past three, counting last year's
NIT) and they have a way of rising to the occasion when they
really want to. At the very least, Davidson should be worried.
Do the Wolverines have enough to make a serious run in
the Big Dance? Their draw is brutal, with UCLA, Kentucky
and maybe even Duke standing in the way of a trip to the
Final Four. But here's another way of looking at it: Michigan's
300-pound leader is playing the best basketball of his career,
and, most importantly, so are his teammates. And Traylor
knows as well as anyone that there's something to be said for
peaking at the right time.
- Jim Rose can be reached atjwrose@umich.edu.
games in as many days to take the tournament
he game, as title. And yet the road to the championship was
lf. Initially, easier than the Wolverines expected.
iscipline it The No. I seed, Michigan State, fresh off a
n meeting, heartbreaking loss to Purdue in the regular-sea-
ding scorer, son finale, fell to Minnesota in its first tourna-
rst half. ment game.

Continued from Page 1A
nent in the final.
Michigan co-captain Conlan, who dished out
21 assists during the course of the tournament
while only turning the ball over twice, felt

But Michigan hardly dominated th
it trailed for much of the first ha
Purdue played with the same di
showed in the teams' regular-seaso
frustrating Bullock, Michigan's lead
into an 0-for-6 performance in the fi

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