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April 06, 2000 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-04-06

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Onward and upward
The No. 1 Michigan women's gymnas-
tics team qualified for the NCAA
Tournament. Go online to see the
teams the Wolverines will compete
against.
michigandaily.com/sports

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THURSDAY
APRIL 6, 2000

13A

*Comrie will return;
jillson 'day-by-day'

U THE DAILY GRIND

Players make headlines,
butfans make memories

By Uma Subramanian
Daily Sports Writer

It's only been two years since Jeff
Jillson first appeared in Sports Illustrated
as an Old Spice Athlete of the Month.
And already he's earned his own two-
page spread in what is arguably the
nation's most popular sports magazine.
So what has Jillson done to gamer
such fame?
Well, devout Michigan hockey follow-
ers know that Jillson is one of the
Wolverines' most talented defensemen
and an unquestioned leader on the blue
line. This season, he finished tied for sec-
ond in scoring for the Wolverines and
was named the CCHA's'Best Offensive
Defenseman.
But there is one important thing to
remember: Jillson has not only attracted
the attention of the college hockey world,
he has also made an impression on the
pro ranks.
So much so, that in last season's NHL
draft Jillson was the 14th overall pick by
the San Jose Sharks and the first college
player drafted.
Granted, in hockey, the draft is essen-
tially only a stepping stone that gives
players a degree of comfort.. Hockey is
somewhat unique in that respect - it
awards an athlete the luxury of develop-
ing in college instead of bouncing around
in a team's minor-league system.
The only stipulation is that the drafting
team holds a player's rights for a year
after his college career is over. But at any
time, the team may place a contract offer
on the table.
That variability and freedom is per-
haps the most enticing part of the deal.
Both teams and players have the ability to

act on an individual basis. Take for
instance, Anaheim's Paul Kariya, who
left Maine after his freshman year in
which he won a national championship
and the Hobey Baker Memorial Trophy.
Was Kariya ready for the NHL? Most
definitely.
But would that hold true for every
player?
Definitely not.
"A player has to ask himself several
questions (before he decides to turn
pro)," Michigan coach Red Berenson
said. "He has to ask himself 'Have I
accomplished everything I can? Is the pro
team ready for me or do they see me
playing in the minors?'
"It's an individual situation. In most
cases, you want to see a player get as
much schooling as he can. It's been to
most players' advantage to stay."
Now, with Michigan's season over, the
hot topic of conversation around the
CCHA is which of the Wolverines' eight
drafted players will be around next sea-
son. The two players who are the subject
ofthe most intense discussions are Jillson
and sophomore Mike Comrie,
Michigan's top center who has led the
Wolverines in scoring the past two sea-
sons.
Comrie was drafted by his hometown
Edmonton Oilers, whom he grew up
idolizing. Regardless, Comrie has hinted
that the NHL can wait while he enjoys
college.
"My plan is to come back and help this
team out,"Comrie said. "I don't have any
plans to leave - I'm happy here. I only
have one goal in mind and that's to help
this team do well. (NHL teams) talk to
you in the summer, but they'll stay out of
your way. It's nice to be wanted, but you

v. .

KiMITSU YOGACHI/Oaiiy
Jeff Jillson hasn't decided whether or not he'll return to Michigan for his junior sea-
son. Teammate Mike Comrie declared that he'll be back for sure.

have to look at what's best for you. I've
just got to improve as a player."
For his part, Jillson isn't as sure, but
will take his time before making a deci-
sion later this summer.
"Right now I'm taking it day-by-day,"
Jillson said. "I'm trying to put the deci-
sion off until the summer, but I'll have to
do what's best for me. If I'm ready, I'll
know it in my heart.
"But the way I look at it is that I
haven't done anything yet. I have to be
honest with myself and ask 'Can I play at
the next level ?' I've got a great situation
here and we're going to have a great team
next year."
The dilemma Jillson will have to sort

out this summer is one that will require a
lot of careful deliberation among himself,
Berenson, the Sharks and his family.
In Jillson's case, there are certain
decided advantages to remaining in col-
lege, including the fact that he will be
playing for a team that will be loaded
with potential, talent and drive - one
that will likely be a preseason favorite.
Jillson also has the advantage of
knowing that the NHL almost definitely
awaits in his future, especially consider-
ing the success he's had at Michigan.
According to Sharks general manager
Dean Lombardi, this season San Jose
scouts followed Jillson and watched him
See JILLSON, Page 15A

The brisk November wind tore
at my jacket as I turned to
bid farewell to Michigan
Stadium. As I climbed the stairs of
the Big House for the last time as a
student, I knelt and caressed one of
the bleachers as
I wiped a tear
from my eye.
Give me a
break.
Can you
imagine if I
wasted your
time and mine A DY
by making my LATAGK
final column
for the Daily Counter
some sappy Latack
memoir about
my favorite game ever played at
Crisler or where I was when the
hockey team won it all in 1998?
You'd stop reading faster than when
you stumble upon one of our crew
articles.
There's no reason why I should
use this space to crowd out your
memories by rambling about mine.
By the time you leave this place,
you'll have enough stories about
Michigan athletics to lull your
grandkids to sleep 10 times over.
My personal stories from here are
of no interest to you, with the pos-
sible exception of the time that
Charles Woodson, Robert Traylor
and I went to that barbecue with all
those supermodels.
Besides, the Michigan memories
will get dulled as the years wear on.
A few decades down the road a
trailer will be something attached to
the back of my Winnebago and not
the guy whose back I attached
myself to after Michigan defeated
No. 20 me
bests Spar
By Brian Steere
Daily Sports Writer
It was almost the perfect outcome for1
Michigan. The school in East Lansing
was ready to suffer a humiliating defeat
to its neighbor down in Ann Arbor. 1
But, the No. 20 Michigan men's ten-
nis team ended up falling two matches 7
short of shutting out archrival Michigan
State last night at the Varsity Tennis I
Center.
After the Wolverines jumped out to a
5-0 lead, both .senior John Long and
sophomore Danny McCain lost tough 1
three-set matches to give the Spartans
their lone two victories in a 5-2 1
Michigan victory.1
Long, whose loss marked his third l
straight defeat in three sets, expressedt
his frustration.

Duke in 1997.
In 40 years, I won't remember
who played backup cornerback for
the 1997 national champions. Some
of you might have forgotten
already, much to William Peterson's
chagrin. But it doesn't matter.
My favorite memories of-being a
Michigan fan are not who I was
watching on the field, but who I
was watching them with in the
stands. Throughout my four years
here, Michigan sports have been
the primary bond between my close
friends and me. And it saddens me
that it's coming to an end.
There are those that cannot-
understand this mentality. They fail
to see how the outcome of a game
can be so vital to others who are
not involved, and to them it proba-
bly seems like a fairly testosterone-
saturated viewpoint. Well, allow me
to take my hands out of my pants,
wipe the Dorito crumbs from my
shirt and explain myself.
Sports were something that unit-
ed us during our time here. In an
environment where everyone had
way too much going on and way too
much to worry about, Michigan
sporting events were a time "hen
we could come together and fdrget
about it all for a while.
Of course this was true of foot-
ball games, but it was more impor-
tant during basketball season:t-
was always an unwritten rule Iat
our schedules were cleared fot,~
games, and there was something
comforting about knowing that we
were all going to take a break for a
few hours on game night to have
fun.
A nine o'clock tip from Minneapolis
See LATACK, Page 15A
n's tennis
tans, 5-2.;
"It's obviously disappointing to ese a
close match, but what can you Io?"
Long said. "My opponent came ready
to play and simply made the big shots
when he needed to"
Long's mood quickly improved after
he saw the final team score. The win,
which improved Michigan's Big Ten
record to 2-2, was also the ninth consec-
utive victory for the Wolverines over
Michigan State.
Michigan established its dominance
right from the very beginning of the
match by taking all three doubles con-
tests. Long and freshman Zach Held
started off the scoring with an 8-2 victo-
ry at the No. 2 position, followed short-
ly by an 8-3 triumph from senior Ron
Nano and sophomore Henry Beam at
the No. 3 spot.
See STATE, Page 16A

Assistant coach Neely bolts for
Western; Greene set to replace

By Mark Francescutti
and Jacob Wheeler
Daily Sports Editors
Lorenzo Neely, a former assistant basketball coach
at Michigan whose season was marred by controver-
sy and was subsequently demoted to administrative
assistant after a physical altercation with Jamal
Crawford in practice, announced
Monday he will take a job on the
staff at Western Michigan. ;
Neely and Clayton Bates, for-
merly an assistant at Jacksonville
University in Florida, were hired
this past weekend by Robert
McCullum, who last month
replaced Bob Donewald as the
Broncos' coach.
"We just lost' one of our Greene
coaches," Michigan coach Brian
Ellerbe said at the 39th annual
Michigan Basketball Bust - a banquet held last
night at Crisler Arena where awards were passed out
and reflections made on the past season.
"Obviously he's taken a step up. He's doing what he
should be doing. But we'll miss Lorenzo and what he
brought to our basketball team because you're only as
good as your coaching staff."
Meanwhile, a recent Michigan recruit has suggest-
ed that Terence Greene, a former assistant basketball

coach at Eastern Michigan, has been associated with
the now-vacant assistant coaching position at
Michigan.
On a WTKA radio broadcast yesterday, committed
guard Maurice Searight referred to Green as "the new
assistant coach."
Michigan officials would not confirm Greene's hir-
ing, but said that he was on the candidate list.
Greene was a victim of the postseason houseclean-
ing at Eastern Michigan, when the Eagles fired for-
mer head coach Milton Barnes and none of the staff
was brought back by new coach Jim Boone.
Greene, who played four years at DePaul, original-
ly hails from Flint, a city which has produced a
plethora of the country's best high school prospects in
recent years - including Mateen Cleaves, Morris
.Peterson and 'Charlie Bell, who just led Michigan
State to the NCAA Championship.
A well-known basketball insider from Flint could
give Ellerbe a recruiting boost, since the in-state com-
petition for blue chip prospects is fierce, especially in
light of the Spartans' recent success.
Ellerbe has drawn scrutiny for his poor record in
recruiting in-state players, but he now has at least one
in each of his two recruiting classes. The recent ver-
bal commitment from Searight gives Ellerbe his sec-
ond player from the state of Michigan. Freshman
LaVell Blanchard, out of Ann Arbor Pioneer, was the
first.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Last night's banquet master of

ceremonies Tim McCormick, a former hardcourt
standout during the early 1980s, recalled what senior
Mike McGee told him during the first game of his
freshman season at Michigan.
"You're a freshman, if you get the ball, don't shoot.
Wait until I come over and get it."
But the theme of the 39th annual Michigan
Basketball Bust was freshman prowess, which led the
Wolverines back to the postseason in 2000.
Blanchard, the hometown hero, and Kevin Gaines,
the flashy point guard from Las Vegas, shared this
season's Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player Award.
Blanchard also took home the Loy Vaught
Rebounding Award and Gaines received the Wayman
Britt Defensive Player Award.
Ellerbe recalled chatting with Blanchard on
Monday night, when the archrival Spartans won it all.
"Levell said, 'Coach, I want to know what it feels like
to know you've got a.national championship with 10
seconds left on the clock."'
OUT WITH A BANG: Both graduating seniors were
honored with awards last night. Peter Vignier received
the Thad Garner Leadership Award, and Darius
Taylor took home the Travis Conlan Sportsmanship
Award.
,Among others, Vignier thanked God for his 6-11
frame, worthy of a college center.
"I owe a lot to (God) for blessing me. I don't know
what kind of player I'd be if I were six feet tall, what
with my skills."

Yesterday's results
Singles:
No. 1 -Matt Wright (Michigan) def. Ken Kigongo, 6-2, 6-1
Doubles:
No. 1- Wright/McCain (Michigan) def. Kigongo/Trinidad, 8-5

F-I

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