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November 09, 2000 - Image 20

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-11-09

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6B - The Michigan Daily - TIPOFF 2000 - Thursday, November 9, 2000

w

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Vital season looms for Michigan basketball

FORECASTThe Michigan Daily predicts
Maryandtobreak out and capture
the 2001 national title in Minneapolis.

The Michigan Daily - TIPOFF 2000
The F
Daily. basketball writer Rap
and only dubious awards

wgrins slightly to keep from smil-
Hing while measuring his steps for-
ward and back. He's careful and
confident and moves with ease to where
the bounce pass meets his hands before
the ball meets the net in a snap of cord.
Brian Ellerbe is just days from opening
his fourth season as Michigan's general.
Expectations couldn't be higher, the pres-
sure has yet to be greater, but that's not
important.
Ellerbe is on a roll.
He's made at least a half dozen from
behind the arc and he's taking small steps
back with each one. It's a mid-afternoon
practice and the place echoes with the
squeak and bounce of anticipation that
comes in an autumn mix of shoes and
layup drills.

The mood is light and Ellerbe can't
miss.
Maybe the start of the season represents
something new for a
program desperately
trying to move on
- again. Maybe the
fear of predicted
mediocrity has
given this team
something to prove.
Or maybe some-
thing that faded in GEOFF
the clamor and con- GAGNON
troversy of press A
conferences and G-Thang
police reports has
been replaced by the
dawn of a new season.

But this season finds Michigan in a
unique spot, straddling the fence between
the promise of the future and the struggles
of the past. And after a series of sub-par
seasons that have moved the Wolverines
away from the national spotlight, this year
must be the one in which Michigan proves
it's more than a perpetual rebuilder. This
must be the year in which Michigan shows
it's a legitimate program on the rise.
The line between good and good-
enough is a thin one and it's one that
Michigan has skirted since its days among
the country's elite programs just under a
decade ago. From the high of Final Four
berths and national acclaim to the lows of
off-court slip-ups and on-court letdowns,
the' last 10 years have been a mysterious
mix of emotion that has now left critics

questioning and fans waiting.
Hasty postseason exits have come to
represent a squad high on hope but run-
ning near empty on accomplishment. Yet
for all the frustration and speculation, for
all the condemnation and hesitation to
restore Michigan to its rightful place
among college basketball's elite, hope has
not been lost.
Credit the fans who filled the Maize
Rage section a year ago when a group of
upstart Wolverines re-ignited Crisler with
a 6-0 start and brought enthusiasm back to
the program. Credit those who stood by
the squad when a 12-2 start evaporated
into an eight-game skid, when questions
of scandal and violations prompted sus-
pensions. And be sure to credit those
who've supported the embattled program

through a tumultuous off-season that's
seen transfers, arrests and questions of
character.
For every cow-bell toting, face-painting
Maize-Rager who cashed in last year's
headband for this year's fresh start, hope
springs eternal.
Perhaps what's made the last several
years so difficult is not that a return to
glory is a fleeting delusion, but that it
seemed so attainable. Last year's freshman
class - a recruiting catch rated among the
nations' best was reduced from five to
two, and swing-man Brandon Smith trans-
ferred. Ellerbe calls it addition by way of
subtraction. But the truth is that Michigan
needs to cultivate its young talent in order
to produce the experience needed to build
a program that must start this season.

The Final Four

Maryland
Ever heard of
Matt Hahn?
player missing
fh last year s
~nu.Three
Ai :xreri
candidates
mrake
stoping this
team a daur-
inq task

Duke
A young Duke
team fell short
in last year's
tournament, but
as talent gains
experience,
Krzyzewksi
cou d guide his
squad to their
ninth Final Four
under his tute-
lage.

Seton H8lI-
Eddie Grfffin,
Darius Lane and
Samuel Dalembert
make this team,
which made last
ea' Sweet
Onderella fashior
apable of rnaking
a deep run i
March, like Florida
did last year.

Arizona
All five starters,
especially 7-2
center Loren
Woods, should
be first round
picks in the NBA
draft. Not even
Lute Olson
could lose in the
NCAA first
round with this
All Star lineup.

Odds and ends
Freshman of the year
Eddie Griffin (Seton Hall)
Player of the Year
Shane Battier (Duke)
Coach of the year
Henry Bibby (Southern Cal
Surprise team
Dayton
Tournament Cinderella
College of Charleston
Most overrated
Michigan State

Brian Cardinal award
(Most punchable Big Ten player)
Lucas Johnson (Mllinois)
Makhtar Ndiaye award
(Most transfers in NCAA career)
Luke Recker (Iowa)
Dan Earl award
(Player who must be on their
eghth year of eligibilit y
Joe Crispin (Penn State)

i-

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Big Ten
1. Illnois - No one can compete with their backcourt
2. Michigan State - Everyone will miss Cleavess huge mouth
3 Iowa - A healthy Recker makes them title competitive
4 Indiana - Will miss Guyton more than they miss Knight
5 Wisconsin Bennett ball less likely to sneak up this year
6. Michigan --- See this publication for brilliant, expan'ded coverage
7 Penn State - So content to go to the NIT
8 Ohio State - No Redd, no Penn, no tournament hopes

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9. Purdue

Keadys team appears unusually talentless

Friedman's Scrap Metals

10. Northwestern - Carmody may run spread offense
11. Minnesota -Hapless, hopeless and not getting better
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --

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