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January 20, 2000 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-20

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12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 20, 2000

-=The Daily Grind-
Ellerbe t M experiments new
rst talent in home debut
rphcfsn

anid medig
fax arrived at 11:51 on
Monday morning, Martin Luther
King day. Just one page long, 14
lines, a simple block 'M' in the upper
left-hand corner. But the message was
clear and powerful.
The memo from the Michigan bas-
ketball office out-_
lines the team's JOSh
new policy regard- J h
ing access to play- Kleinbaum
ers - no more
pregame pressz
conferences and
no phone calls to;
players or their '
families.
But here's the
kicker: "In addi- ApocALYPsE
tion'"line nine of rjow
the memo reads,
"a1l granted inter-
view requests will be conducted under
direct supervision of either Tom
Wywrot or Brian Ellerbe."
In case your head's been in the gutter
this past week, here's what all the hub-
bub is about: Last week, freshman
guard Jamal Crawford told a columnist
from The Seattle Times that he wasn't
sure that Michigan was the right school
for him.
Ellerbe, Michigan's coach, didn't
aprove the interview, and he sure did-
n't approve of what Crawford said.
New he's bringing the clamps down on
the media.
:If Ellerbe or Tom Wywrot, the team's
sports information director, had been
standing over Crawford's shoulder,
maybe he wouldn't have told the
reporter from The Seattle Times that
Michigan might not have been the right
decision, but that doesn't mean he was-
n't thinking it. And the fans have the
right to know
There are two facts that scare the
crap out of Ellerbe: 1.) He lucked into
his job, and 2.) his team isn't that good.
He responds to these fears with an
overwhelming sense of paranoia that
culminated in this most recent mandate.
Let's look at the first of those two
facts first. Think about this: Ellerbe had
a losing record coaching at Loyola
(Maryland) when he was hired as a
Michigan assistant in 1997. But Steve
Fisher was fired days before practice
was set to begin for the 1997-98 sea-
son, no coach would abandon his team
that soon before the season, so Ellerbe
was handed the reins on an interim
basis. He did a good job, won the Big
Ten Tournament and an NCAA game,
and he was named the permanent
coach.
But in the eyes of most Michigan
fans, Ellerbe is underqualified for and
undeserving of the Michigan job, one
of the most prestigious jobs in the col-
lege game. Most coaches would love to
work at Michigan, fans think, and we
get stuck with a guy who had a losing
record at Loyola?
That's not to say that Ellerbe is a bad
coach - that verdict is still out -just
that he wasn't the most qualified candi-
date for his job. And he knows it.
Now on to the second fact, that these
Wolverines aren't that good. For the
first time in my four years at Michigan.
there's a lot of excitement surrounding
the basketball team. With a great fresh-
man class recruited by Ellerbe, this
team is packed with talent, they're fun
to watch and they win games. They
also have three freshmen starters, very
little experience, don't like to play
defense, commit too many turnovers
and lose games. In a tough conference.

they'll probably lose more games than
they'll win. They probably wo*'t go to
the big dance.
There's nothing wrong with that.
Michigan fans won't get upset about it
- it's sure as hell an improvement over
last year's team, where watching a
game was about as much fun as a root
canal. And next year, the Wolverines
wil be better, they'll make the NCAA
Tournament and could be good enough
to make a tourney run.
But Ellerbe is worried that, once
some losses start to pile up, the fans will
abandon his team. So he's paranoid.
Michigan is one of the most secre-
tive programs in the country. All prac-
tices are closed. Access to players has
always been as limited as any - actu-
ally, more limited.
Now, Ellerbe has made it worse.
Why? Because an 19-year-old-kid
living thousands of miles away from
home is homesick? And he might have
considered transferring?
It's nothing short of ridiculous.
Ellerbe sees the media as an enemy,
just another one of his critics that does-
an'tthnl e hr- tppucte irhinn

By Rohit shave
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's gymnastics team
vaults into Cliff Keen Arena on Saturday
to face No. 5 Iowa in its first Big Ten
meet of the season. The Wolverines are
coming off a second-place finish in last
week's Windy City Invitational, edged
out of first by No. 1 Ohio State.
At that meet, freshmen Kris
Zimmerman, Conan Parzuchowski, and
Jamie Hertza made solid debuts.
Zimmerman and Parzuchowski finished
tied for third and seventh on rings,
respectively, while Hertza finished third
on the pommel horse.
Last week, the Wolverines experi-
mented with the lineup, trying to give
each gymnast valuable experience on
new events and routines. Slight injuries
to Scott Vetere, Brad Kenna, and Daniel
Diaz-Luong forced Golder to shuffle his
lineup, particularly on high bar. The
Wolverines finished a disappointing
sixth out of seven teams in the event.

Although the high bar appears to be a
weakness, Golder feels that once Vetere,
Kenna, and Diaz-Luong heal, the team
should be more competitive in the event.
Vault was also not a strength last
week, but Golder is not concerned, citing
a fluctuation in scoring for last week's
meet. But he is not about to relax.
"If the (low) scores continue, I will be
concerned with that event," Golder said.
Golder plans to continue with his pol-
icy to further experiment with the lineup
against the Hawkeyes. As the season
goes along, he plans to tighten the line-
up.
"I want to improve our consistency
without lessening the difficulty" Golder
said. "We're going to let (the gymnasts)
grow into their difficult levels . . . This
(high difficulty) is what we need for a
championship."
The Wolverines are quietly confident
about their chances against Iowa. Golder
respects Iowa's skill and gymnastics tra-
diton. Two years ago, the Hawkeyes were

T HIS WEEKEND
.: Iowa at Mhian
W~tihere: Cliff Keen arena
Wh: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Latest The No. 3 Michigan men's
gymnastics team's home opener against
No. Iowa. First 500 fans receir a free
Dl or t-shirt from BMG music
runners-up in the NCAA Championships
and they defeated the Wolverines in both
regular season meetings.
The Wolverines need better showings
in high bar and vault, but they should
benefit from having superior overall tal-
ent in the form of Justin Toman and
Vetere. On the floor exercise, Toman will
attempt to beat his national-best score of
9.850. Vetere will also attempt to
improve his national-best 9.850 score on
still rings.
In their first home defense of their
national title, the Wolverines will display
new routines and fresh faces.
Although veterans like Diaz-Luong
and Vetere may be held out of some
events to rest nagging injuries, top new-
comers such as Zimmerman,
Parzuchowski, and Hertza will attempt to
fill the void and continue Michigan's
recently renewed tradition of gymnastics
excellence.

By Richard Haddad
Daily Sports Writer
After a grueling stint on the road to
initiate the 2000 season, the Michigan
women's gymnastics team returns home
to make its Cliff Keen Arena debut
tonight. And hated Michigan State will
be waiting.
The fact that the meet is a home open-
er against a traditional in-state adversary
would seem to inflate the anticipation for
it. But to the third-ranked Wolverines, it
is just another meet.
"There's no special emphasis on it
being the first home meet, but we're still
excited," senior captain Sarah Cain said.
"Its not a very big rivalry, not like foot-
ball or basketball. It isn't any bigger
than Georgia or Alabama, for instance."
Michigan can't be blamed for its hes-
itance to get pumped. It has already
faced six of the nation's top ten teams at
the Super Six Challenge and at No. 4
Minnesota. Despite the elite competi-
tion, the Wolverines have emerged with
a 4-2 record, falling short only to the

State 'no worry' for."
M women tumblers

nation's top two teams.
At 4-3 and ranked No. 20, Michigan
State figures to be Michigan's easiest
opponent thus far. And the Wolverines
dismantled the Spartans in their most
recent meeting, last year in East
Lansing. But all of Michigan State's
losses have been to Top 20 teams, so the
Wolverines can't afford to look ahead.
Huge matchups aren't anything out of
the ordinary for this young team. But, as
always, there is still room to improve.
"We need to improve our (uneven)
bars the most," said Cain, alluding to the
meet-low 48.550 recorded at Minnesota
on the apparatus.
"Everything could use some improve-s
ment. Our focus is on hitting our hand-
stands and all our routines" she contin-
ued. "Its still early in the year, so we're
not at the top of our game yet."
As well as Michigan has performed
while below the top of its game, Cain's-
quote should terrify the competition.
Unfortunately for the Spartans,
they're the competition.

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