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March 12, 1998 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-12

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NCAA
SBASKETBALL
National Invtational
Tournament
PENN STATE 82,
Rider 68
MINNESOTA 77,
Colorado St. 65
Georgia 100;
IOWA 93

N. CAROLINA ST. 59,
Kansas St. 39
GEORGIA TECH 88,
Seton Hall 78
AUBURN 77,
S. Mississippi 62,
DAYTON 95,
LIU Brooklyn 92
Georgetown 71,
FLORIDA 69

MEMPHIS 90,
Ball St. 67
AlabamaBirmingham 93,
MISSOURI 86
VANDERBILT 73,
St. Bonaventure 61
Gonzaga 69,
WYOMING 55
Fresno St. 73,
PACIFIC 70

SPORTS~ian1&l

Interested in trying out for the Michigan cheerleading
squad? Instructional clinics begin Sunday, Mar. 15,
and continue until tryouts on Sunday, April 5. For more
information, Call Pam St. John at 647-9472.
Thursday
March 12, 1998L 3

*Michigan'spotentid unrealized by national press

TLANTA - The Atlanta
columnists have come out with
their NCAA Tournament predic-
tions over the past two days - sure
bets, long shots, no shots - and other
than in the schedule for tomorrow's
first-round games at the Georgia
i Dome, the word 'Michigan' is nowhere
o be found.
Then again, Atlanta probably hasn't
seen much of Michigan. Those who
have been paying attention know the
No. 3 seed awarded to the Wolverines
by the NCAA selection committee on
Sunday is not unwarranted. Michigan,
which has won six straight games, is
one of the hottest teams in the country.
The media and coaches agreed with
e committee the following day, as
"ichigan was ranked No. 12 in the
country in both major polls.
But if polls were based on potential,

rather than performance, Michigan
should be ranked even higher. Maybe
even - dare
we say - in
the top four.
Finally, after
almost three.
seasons, that
potential has
come to
fruition. DAN
The STILLMAN
Wolverines SIL A
have displayed SMt the
it many times
this year. At
first, there were only flashes - against
Duke and in the Puerto Rico Classic.
Recently, however, the Wolverines
have displayed their potential on a
more consistent basis, a frighteningly
consistent basis.

In fact, lately, Michigan might be
more dangerous than Jimmy Ray -
and that's a scary thought.
The danger to opposing teams is
obvious. Michigan has won its last six
games by an average margin of almost
18 points. Take out the 48-point anni-
hilation of Indiana, and the'
Wolverines' average margin of victory
is still in double digits.
Even scarier is what the Wolverines
are saying.
"We're playing really good basket-
ball, but I think we can play better,"
guard Travis Conlan said. "The thing
that coach (Brian) Ellerbe was saying
is that at times we're up by 15, but
we're not putting the other team away
when we should. We're not getting up
by 20 at halftime like we should."
Twenty!
And this is coming from a team that

has had a reputation of playing down
to its opponents, of letting teams back
into games that looked to be well in
hand.
So, what happened? Where did the
Michigan that had trouble "getting up"
for anyone besides Duke go'?
The answer is: nowhere. Early in the
season, when the Wolverines sand-
wiched in their eight-point victory over
then-No. 1 Duke with embarrassing
losses to Bradley and Eastern
Michigan, Ellerbe said he and the
other coaches would try anything and
everything to get the players to play
with the same intensity against lesser
opponents as they did against big-
name ones.
After the Eastern Michigan game,
Michigan proceeded to run off six
straight wins. Excluding a 32-point
See STILLMAN, Page 14A

PAUL TALANIAN/Daily
Michigan guard Robbie Reid and the rest of the Wolverines are riding a six-game
win streak and have considerable momentum going into the NCAA Tournament.

MAKING

HIS

POINT

'M' floor leader Conlan's role is
measured by more than numbers

By Dan Stillman
Daily Sports Editor
ATLANTA - Travis Conlan is
not the biggest guy on the
court, nor is he the fastest. And
his numbers aren't the most impres-
sive.
His typical line - a couple field
goals, a few more field goal attempts,
a 3-pointer or two, a couple rebounds
and several assists - is far from
extraordinary.
But Conlan, Michigan's senior
point guard and floor leader, may be
the biggest reason the Wolverines
have a chance to put together a suc-
cessful NCAA Tournament run.
Conlan's impact is not as easily
seen in the numbers as it is by watch-
ing him bring the ball up the court.
When Conlan is at the helm, the
Wolverines have a certain confidence
about them - a swagger, if you will.
"When Travis is clicking, I think
we're doing a great job and playing
well," said fellow co-captain Robert
Traylor.
Conlan makes the Wolverines go
because that's his role - to run the
offense, play great defense against the
opponent's best player and get every-
one involved. And he plays it well,
sometimes too well, according to
teammates.
"He plays so unselfish sometimes
that he doesn't look for his offense,"
guard Louis Bullock said. "When he
looks for his offense, I know that
we're going to have a great game."
Offense is exactly what Conlan
found back on Nov. 3, against Athletes
in Action in the Wolverines' first exhi-
bition game, until late in the second
half.
Conlan had scored a career-high 19
points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 from
3-point land and, was working on
arguably his best performance as a
Wolverine when he suffered a wrist

injury diving for a loose ball.
Conlan would return to the court
five games later, but his return to the
starting lineup would not come as
quickly.
By the time he was fully recovered
and ready to start again, the
Wolverines were on a roll, having won
five games in a row, thanks in part to
the play of newcomer guard Robbie
Reid.
Reid, a transfer from Brigham
Young, took Conlan's spot in the start-
ing rotation after the injury. Even
though Reid may not have been the
driving force of Michigan's success,
the Wolverines were beginning to gel
with him in the lineup.
As a result, Conlan was the odd
man out. And the theory that you don't
lose your starting job due to injury
seemed to not apply.
The Wolverines - led by starters
Reid, Traylor, Bullock, Jerod Ward
and Maceo Baston - continued to
play well together.
In fact, with Reid starting in place
of Conlan, Michigan won 15 of its
first 19 regular-season games, includ-
ing the upset of then-No. 1 Duke.
But the Wolverines.' momentun
slowed when they fell to Illinois and
Purdue on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1, respec-
tively, in the midst of a stretch crucial to
the Big Ten race.
It was the first time the Wolverines
had lost two consecutive games, and the
Michigan coaches decided a change was
necessary.
Conlan would return to the starting
lineup for the next game - a must-
win not only to keep the Wolverines'
Big Ten hopes, but postseason hopes
as well, alive.
Conlan responded with one of his
patented lines - six points on 2-of-4
shooting, 1-of-2 from beyond the arc,
three rebounds and five assists - and
Michigan won the game.

As usual, however, Conlan's most
important contribution was the confi-
dence and purpose with which he
guided the Wolverines.
Since then, Conlan has helped
inspire the Wolverines with clutch
shooting, key assists, timely rebounds,
the occasional alley-oop and most
importantly, good instincts.
"We expect a lot of things from
him," Ellerbe said. "He's playing like
a senior point guard should play."
The leadership Ellerbe speaks of is
a big reason why the Wolverines have
won their past six games, including
the Big Ten Tournament title, and are
in position to make a run in the NCAA
Tournament as a No. 3 seed.
Although Traylor earned the Big
Ten Tournament's most outstanding
player award, and Ward joined Traylor
on the all-Tournm2nent team, Conlan
arguably deserved equal credit for
Michigan's success.
In three games at the Big Ten
Tournament, Conlan shot 62.5 per-
cent, made 4-of-8 3-pointers and
dished out a team-high 21 assists
while committing just two turnovers.
"I'm shooting the ball probably the
best I have all year," Conlan said. "I'm
confident ... These past two games
I've had layups the first two shots. It's
definitely important to get some easy
shots to get going."
If it looks like Conlan is playing
with an increased determination late-
ly, that's because there's a sense of
urgency about him - from here on
out, the next game could be his last,
ever.
"I'm going to try to pursue basket-
ball" after graduation, Conlan said.
"But if that doesn't happen, I'm going
into the last few games of my career.
I'm going to go at it hard and give it
all I got."
That's an approach Michigan fans
have come to expect from Conlan.

MARGARET MEYERS/Daily
Wravis Conlan's contributions don't always show up in the box-score, but the senior is a major reason why this year's
Michigan squad could do some damage in the NCAA Tournament. Coming back from an early season wrist injury, Conlan
has helped run the Wolverines' offense to near-perfection during their run to a No. 3 seed in the Big Dance.

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