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March 24, 1998 - Image 11

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-24

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 24, 1998 - 11

-One last

ihance at
glojy? Kns
suts door
I sympathized with Rhode Island coach
Jim Harrick when he said after the Rams'
g t-wrenching defeat to Stanford on Sunday,
"They cut my heart out:'
UCLA's Kris Johnson did the same thing to
me two Sundays ago.
- Vou remember Johnson, the Bruin who
sank eight free throws in 37 seconds to seal
UCLA's victory over Michigan in the second
round of the NCAA Tournament.
Collegiate careers ended that day. Every
free throw Johnson converted was like feeling
the pain from needles - one by one - being
,,thrust into a voodoo doll.
The Michigan seniors felt that pain, know-
ing it was the last time they would be playing
for Michigan.
But each free throw Johnson made was just
*as tough for me to watch.
Johnson put a sudden end to the Michigan
-season and in so doing, put an end to my
four-year Michigan
Daily career.
And for that I say to
ris: Yeah, thanks. >
Thanks a lot. This was-
n't supposed to happen.
Ididn't want it to end.
For journalists cover- JAMES
ing games, the cardinal GOLDSTEIN
sin-is to root, to be a
homer, to cheer.
But as a senior graduating this May, I knew
*my-time was almost up. While I wasn't cheer-
ing for Michigan during the game, I couldn't
help but pray for Robert Traylor's last-second
free throw - a planned miss for a final shot
-to work to perfection.
It didn't. When the final buzzer sounded, a
gliqed look came over my face - similar to
the one Maceo Baston had while walking off
.the court for the last time as Michigan men.
It didn't hit me until I walked into the press
conference room and watched members of
the team in misery describing how the
Wolverines lost.
I'm done, too.
Now, the point of this column is not to
sound despondent. I'm not trying to make
people sympathize with me. Rather, as this is
my last story as a Michigan Daily sports
writer, I feel this is the time to reminisce.
J1 know, now you're saying - 'Oh, here we
go again, another Daily writer saying how he
was so lucky to do this or do that, or meet
him or her, or cover that team or this coach.'
No, no - on the contrary, the story of my
four years at the Michigan Daily covering
,,Michigan teams is one about being (actually,
one or two years away from being) in the
right place at the tight time.
As a Michigan student and fan (yes, I said
it - a fan!), I couldn't ask for anything more.
A hockey national championship, a football
national title, a swimming crown and a Big

Williams set
for Final Four
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Everywhere Shammond
Williams turns this week he'll be asked about the wotst
game of his career.
The North Carolina senior said a return trip to the Final
Four will serve as a reminder of his 1-for-13 performance
in a loss to Arizona in last year's semifinals.
Williams, the school's career 3-point leader, was in faet
reminded of his poor shooting game yesterday morning
when he turned the television on, then several hours later
when reporters grilled him on the subject.
"Actually, (yesterday) morning on ESPN they we
playing the 1997 Final Four (highlights) and in the mid-
dle of the thing they were like, 'Well, it wasn't a good
semifinal game for Shammond Williams,' and they
showed me missing some shots."
What was Williams' reaction to the TV commentary?
"It was the truth so there is nothing I can say," he said.
"But now, having an opportunity to go back, hopefully I
can turn it around and play my style of basketball."
Williams, who believes he is often overshadowed by
All-Americans Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter, is a bit
of a loner, listing his hobby as spending time alone think-
ing and shooting by himself at the Smith Center at 2 a.m.
Williams is the team's second-leading scorer at 17.0
points per game and shoots 41.3 percent from beyond the
arc. His 131-for-144 (91 percent) free-throw effort this
season is the best in school history.
But he voiced his displeasure several weeks ago when
he was named second-team all-ACC, and not to the first
team.
Earlier last month and three days after scoring a career-
high 42 points in a 107-100 double overtime victory at
Georgia Tech, Williams left the bench in tears after a dis-
agreement with coach Bill Guthridge. He returned but
didn't play in the second half, and totaled just one point
for the game.
Both parties said the incident, which was captured live
by ESPN, was quickly buried and forgotten.
Still, Williams is uncomfortable discussing his actions.
"I don't regret it at all," Williams said yesterday. "I feel
bad that things went that way, but I felt like being the per-
son I am I handled it the best way I could. 1 was never dis-
respectful or anything like that to my coaches."
Most would agree that without Williams the Tar Heels
(34-3) would not be playing Utah (29-3) on Saturday in
the program's 14th Final Four appearance.
He scored 32 points in an overtime victory against
North Carolina-Charlotte in the second round of the
NCAA tournament, then added 18 and 19 points in the
East Regional semifinals and finals in Greensboro this
past weekend.
"He was an important part of our year," Guthridge said
when asked about the value to Williams. "Shammond has
improved a lot during his career here.
"He's a tireless worker, and if someone says he can't
dribble with his left hand very well, then he'll work on it
and work on it until he can do it. He has made himself
into an excellent player."
And one of the main go-to guys in crunch time on a
team full of offensive stars.
Williams has scored 35 points in North Carolina's lIst
20 minutes of overtime, including 10 in the Atlantic
Coast Conference tourney semifinals against Maryland
and nine against UNCC in the NCAAs.
Williams' teammates have little doubt he'll rebound
from last year's Final Four shooting slump.
"The guy put a lot of pressure on himself after that per-
formance, and he was despicable about the way be
played," Jamison said. "Shammond is too smart to go out
there and say, 'I shot 1-for-13 last year, and I'm goingto
come out there and gun it.' He's going to go out there and
do the things he's been doing the last couple of months
and throughout the years."

MARGARET MYERS/Daily
Kris Johnson's eight straight free throws In the final 37 seconds of Michigan's loss to UCLA ended the careers of Michigan basketball players
Travis Conlan, Maceo Baston and Jerod Ward. It also ended the Daily career of sports writer James Goldstein.

Ten Tournament title all in my four years
here. Friends of mine in other colleges sali-
vate about just having one national-champi-
onship team, let alone a few.
But as a Daily sports writer, timing has just
not been on my side.
Two years ago, the Michigan hockey team
won the championship. Last year, I covered
the team for the first semester before study-
ing abroad in Italy. I missed the Wolverines
playing in the national semifinals. Okay, so
that's not that big of a deal - and besides, I
went to Italy. I can't complain.
Three years ago, I was on the wonien's
basketball beat in the winter and then the
baseball beat during the spring. The women's
basketball squad was fighting to stay out of
the conference cellar. Hmmm, please remind
me again ... how did they do this year? Oh
yeah, they went to the NCAA Tournament for
the first time in a decade.
While covering baseball, the team qualified
for the Big Ten Championships, but lost in
the first round. The team's results last spring?
Yup, you guessed it. They won the Big Ten.

Fine, so maybe I was lucky to have covered
this year's men's basketball squad for its con-
ference title run. I was part of history because
it was the inaugural event. But where was I
when everyone was celebrating? Driving to
the team hotel, where the Wolverines watched
the announcement of the tournament field on
television.
Nine beats in all. Sure, journalism is just as
much about covering the teams when they are
losing as when they are succeeding. I'm not
saying I was around complete losers for my
four years.
No, not at all. In fact, some athletes I was
fortunate enough to follow are among the
greatest to have played for Michigan in their
sports. And if not the greatest, pretty far up
there. Track star Kevin Sullivan, hockey phe-
nom Brendan Morrison and Traylor are just a
few examples.
But I had the feeling that the men's basket-
ball beat was it. The Wolverines were going
to do something special in this tournament,
especially considering the way they were
playing coming in.

I still thought Michigan had a good shot of
beating UCLA, even in the final minute.
That is, until Johnson - the name comes
up once again - nailed those stinking foul
shots.
Thanks, Kris. Way to end my Daily career,
man.
But serious thanks are in order for the peo-
ple who contributed to the great times I've
had at the Daily - especially to Jim, Dan
and Mark - current sports editors. We've
been through many sports beats, coaches,
road trips - and computers. When I think
back at my times at Michigan, the things that
will stand out will be the times we've had.
So now, I'm going pro, trying to advance
in this sports journalism business. I'll see
where it takes me. All I know is one thing.
If I ever see Kris Johnson again - as a
sports fan in some arena or one of the jour-
nalists on press row - I'm going to scream
at the top of my lungs when he steps to the
free throw line. It's payback time.
James Goldstein can be reached at
jamesdg~dumich.edu.

Tark the talk of the Big Apple

REGISTRAR'S BULLETIN BOARD
IT'S TIME

NEW YORK (AP) - There were no
camera crews, photographers or
tdporters scurrying down the hotel corri-
dor after any of the other three NIT
coaches.
As usual, they were all in pursuit of
Jery Tarkanian.
Tarkanian, the coach of troubled
-Fresno State, was the center of attention
at a luncheon yesterday introducing the
coaches of this year's NIT semifinalists.
But with Tark in town, Minnesota's
Clem Haskins, Penn State's Jerry Dunn
and Georgia's Ron Jirsa - all good guys
* with nice teams and compelling stories
of their own - went virtually unnoticed.
Fresno State (21-11), which has
endured a season of arrests, suspensions
and scrutiny, plays Minnesota (18-15) in
Today's first semifinal at Madison

Square Garden. Penn State (18-12) meets
Georgia (19-14) in the second game with
the winners playing for the tournament's
61st championship on Thursday night.
Tarkanian's team has received as much
attention as any in college basketball this
month, mostly for the wrong reasons. A
"60 Minutes" profile on Fresno State's
problems was followed just days later by
the arrest of two more players.
That incident, in which senior center
Avondre Jones and freshman Kenny
Brunner were accused of threatening a
man with handguns and samurai swords,
came just hours after Fresno State's
buzzer-beating win over Memphis in the
NIT's second round.
"That was about as low as we could
get,' Tarkanian said.
Before the team's trip to Hawaii for its

third-round game, Fresno State president
John Welty threatened to pull the team
out of the NIT if there were any more
problems. There weren't any, and the
Bulldogs defeated Hawaii, 85-83, to earn
a trip to New York.
And now, despite having only seven
scholarship players left on his roster,
Tarkanian has his team among the final
eight men's college basketball teams still
playing.
"It's been a real tough season,"
Tarkanian said. "We've been up and
down. We've had a lot problems and it's
been very difficult for us. ... Our kids
have hung together, and I'm real proud
that they've been able to overcome some
of the adversity and still pull together. I
don't think many people gave us much of
a chance."

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