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March 09, 2000 - Image 16

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-09

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The honors continue
After they captured the regular season
conference championship, Wolverines
Jeff Jillson and Mike Comrie were cho-
sen first team all-CCHA. Check on-line
to see the rest of the selections.
michigandaiiy.com/sports

PIL

4n

THURSDAY
MARCH 9, 2000

16A

ii
i>
41
14
i ;,
"
t"

IN TODAY' S
SECTION

0oe C~OO/
Joe Warren is a lot like
Charles Barkle - out-
lanrdish, outspoken and
without a championship.
Now on the verge of
NCAAVs, he's looking to
change that.'
PAGE 19Av
Any gkeitcombine
Most football layers
dream about paying on
- Sundays. Seven just-
graduated Michigan
oot a ayers hope
they enhanced their
chances at last week-
end's NFL Combine.
PAGE 19A
As good as it gets
After two knee injuries, sophomore
forward Raina Go odlow has become
Michigan's most consistent post player,
With a little help from mom.
PAGE 20A
Ralston needs relief
The bruising hits keep coming for the
Michigan nine. After a sub ar 3-6
start in Florida, the baseball team lost
its ace pitcher, junior Bryce Ralston.
PAGE 20A
Playoff phenoms
Scott Maszka, Mark
Kosick and Josh
Langfeld have joined to
form one of Michigan's
most potent lines, espe-
cially when it counts the
most -- the playoffs.
PAGE 21A
Ritt' bit s
After almost turning
do n the Michigan
coacwhin" positionw, Birsy
Rit1 ishe got a
econd chance and left,
;Madison far Ann Arbor.~
PAGE 22A ~

Second City,
Hoops opens against
roar-less Nittany Lions

second

season

r a'
.# ;,

Capablity
and the

By Jacob Wheeler
Daily Sports Editor

CHICAGO - When three-year old
Morgan Ashleigh Ellerbe accompanies
her father Brian to the Lincoln Park
Zoo on Lake Michigan, she probably
takes a special interest in the lion's cage

first round of the NIT at Crisler Arena
sometime next week, regardless of how
they fair in Chicago.
Still, Morgan Ashleigh and Brian
should be smiling about Michigan's
first-round matchup against a Nittany
Lion group which barely emitted a
whimper, much less a roar, during the

year that
wasn'

- the animal which has
been kind to her family
lately.
The Nittany Lion,
specifically, has roamed
in Michigan coach Brian
Ellerbe's favor during this
tumultuous basketball
campaign.

first half of their ren-
dezvous earlier this sea-

TODAY

UNITED
Who: Michigan
15-12 overall) vs
(5-11,13-14)
When: 2 p.m. to
tcnflormw against
iMN h.

Once again the Michig Nvm.
Wolverines find them- pm. Satidai
selves backed up against 330p.m.Sao
a wall of dismay, this time
on the heels of an embarrassing loss to
Michigan State. Now, they'll suit up
against the Nittany Lions of Penn State
- the ninth-seeded team in the tourna-
ment.
Today Michigan's rebounding
chance comes in the postseason Big Ten
Tournament, in a game potentially far
more important than the previous
matchup, an 89-87 overtime victory on
Feb. 19 which halted the team's infa-
mous seven-game losing streak.
With a win in today's 2 p. i. opening
round game at the United Center, the
eighth-seeded Wolverines would get
another crack at top-seeded Ohio State,
tomorrow at 3 p.m.
And while Ellerbe's young team has
fared miserably against the Big Ten's
upper echelon this season, winning
only two of nine games, any upset vic-
tories in the Windy City this weekend
will weigh heavily in Michigan's favor
when the National Invitational
Tournament selection committee lays
out the brackets this coming Sunday.
With a current 15-12 season record,
the Wolverines will probably host the

s.,

I sson.
CENTER The Wolverines stock-
(6.10 Big Tet, piled an early 20-point
S. Penn Srate lead, thanks in part to
Penn State's late arrival
day, 3p.m. in Ann Arbor and subse-
OhioStateif quent flat play in the
'eifinas 230 opening 20 minutes.
hampionship
: AlItime ES T But very little has
come easy for the boys
in blue this season, and
mammoth Lion Jarrett Stephens took
advantage of Michigan's thin front line
in the second half, en route to 33 points
on the day. Penn State stormed back in
the second half and forced the game
into overtime, which the Wolverines
finally won by two points.
Two soft-spoken players emerged as
Michigan's keys to victory: Fully-reha-
bilitated forward Brandon Smith and
backup forward Chris Young.
Smith manipulated the slower Penn
State forwards and sped around defend-
ers like a taxi cab in rush hour, answer-
ing Ellerbe's plea to take offensive pres-
sure off of freshman point guard Kevin
Gaines. Smith tallied a career high 16
points and Young chipped in with 13.
Gaines shut down potential weapon
Joe Crispin at the top of the key during
that meeting, as the Wolverines won the
game from the backcourt.
In athletic ability and the transition
game is where they must manipulate
Penn State again, because there's no
home court this time around.
"We've had some time off- well
be ready," Ellerbe said.

JEREMY ME NCtAN /al y
Michigan's season: Take Two. The Big Ten Tournament is a chance for Kevin Gaines
(above) and the Wolverines to right all of the wrongs of the tumultuous season.
C1b seeks to prove
ciis wro IUng again

I

By Chris Duprey
1)ily Sports Editor
CH ICAGO - If Brian Ellerbe
needed to go away and escape the per-
meating smog of his team's 51-point
l)ss to Michigan State this past
Saturday, he sure picked the right
place.
Because, for Ellerbe, Chicago is his
kind of town.
If this past weekend could be con-
sidered the low point in Ellerbe's
reign -- the State debacle, Tom Goss'
final departure from the athletic
department, uncertainty everywhere
- then Ellerbe and the Wolverines
are returning to the high point.
Two years ago -- believe it or not,
it has been that long - Ellerbe was
cutting down the net at the inaugural
Big Ten Tournament. His Michigan
team, an improbable pick to win the
tournament, had just defeated Purdue
to take the crown. And for a young
coach that was trying to make a state-
ment about his abilities, the
Wolverines couldn't have picked a
better spot.
For years, Steve Fisher had tried to
get the core of his team to play
together, to play unselfishly. Louis

Bullock, Jerod Ward, Maceo Baston,
Robert Travlor -- each individual
was capable of shining, but rarely did
they all click on the same evening.
It had been the knock against
Fisher and Michigan for as long as
those four had been in school. NBA-
sized egos with CBA-sized attitudes.
With the tournament championship
in his back pocket, Ellerbe proved
that old mentality to be outdated. For
one day, he owned the basketball
world. He proved everybody wrong.
Ellerbe smiled that day. He smiled
a lot.
He hasn't smiled that much since.
"These guys accepted me and
accepted the staff early," Ellerbe said
after the championship victory. "They
have so much character."
And for a man who describes his
most valuable quality as "honesty,"
winning important basketball games
with players he respected was a
dream come true.
"It's nice to be a part of history,"
Ellerbe said. "I thought our guys real-
ly gutted it out."
Gutting it out has been a way of life
for Michigan in the Big Ten
Tournament.
See TOURNEY, Page 17A

CHICAGO - George Perles had
the 1987 Rose Bowl. George Bush -
had the 1991 Gulf War. And Brian
Ellerbe had the 1998 Big Ten
Tournament.
It is an accomplishment of signif-
cant pride down at Crisler Arena sti
today, this inaugural title.
There is a banner in the rafters, and
occasionally, a ring on a coach's fin-
ger.
There is even a picture of that
championship team hanging in the
posh home lockerroom of the
Wolverines. It is in sparse an
impressive company - captured in
time with the Fab Five huddle and the'
Rumeal
Robinson free
throws.
Any c
Michigan fan
would yearn
today for the
glory por-
trayed in those DAVID
frames. Each
speaks vol-
umes. Double
But Brian Down
Ellerbe must
yearn especially for the feeling he
had when posing for that BTT photo,
two seasons ago. That picture also
says a lot - but I think more about
Ellerbe than the program.
It says, in no uncertain terms, that
with talent, Ellerbe can produce a
winner.
Did the Wolverines give up on
Ellerbe last Saturday in East
Lansing?
Maybe.
But here's another one; Did the
Hoosiers give up on Bob Knight tw o
years ago in Ann Arbor? The final in
that act was 112-64, Michigan on top.
Ellerbe on top.
Even so, Knight's word was still
Gospell to college hoops gurus -
while Ellerbe's word is suspect.
Quietly, Ellerbe took the 1998
Wolverines through a late Big Ten
tear, the celebrated BTT, and to a No
3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Say the skeptics: Ha! That was a
team of NBA players and Big Ten
record breakers! Anybody could have
coached them into the tournament.
But ... anybody?
This was the same team - minus
Maurice Taylor - that Steve Fisher
could not lead to the Big Dance.
Fisher, the Final Four legend.
Yet there was Robert Traylor, for
Brian Ellerbe's Wolverines, guaran-
teeing a Final Four berth, dancing on
the cover of Sports Illustrated.
In the end - and anybody on
South Campus will admit this -
Ellerbe was so successful that
Michigan had no choice but to hire
him long term.
Which is why the Crawford deba-
cle hurts so much.
When Ellerbe's first team lost to
UCLA in the second round of the
NCAAs, Michigan fans winced
thinking what could have been. The
media concurred. A headline from the
Daily after that loss:
What could have been? The botto
line is painful
How appropriately we can apply..
that headline to this entire season
Two hours before that fateful Feb...
Michigan State game, the sky was -
literally the limit for these young-'
sters in blue. Ask even the most
See DEN HERDER, Page 17
0

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