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February 05, 2001 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-02-05

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8B The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday -February 5, 2001

FRoM GRACE
TO DISGRACE
Eight years ago, Michigan was com-
Petng fora nation tle. Now it
can't even qualify for the postseason.
Whap4ened:

to the

ever Itbset
U I

0

April 5,

1993

Chris Webber calls a timeout
Michigan doesn't have, resulting in a
technical foul that secures the nation-
al tiile for North Carolina. That was
Webber's last game as a Wolverine.
Feb. 19, 1996
Maurice Taylor rolls over
his aunt's Ford Explorer while
taking recruit Mateen
Cleaves to a party in Detroit
and to visit booster Ed Mar-
tin. Passenger Robert Traylor
breaks his arm in the accident
and is the only one injured.
The rollover begins a series
of questions about Martin
and his close interactions
with coaches and players of
the program.'

7996-'97 season
A talented Michigan team
underachieves and misses the
NCAA Tournament, amidst
rumors of Martin paying play-
ers. The team accepts a bid to
the NIT and rallies to win the
Tournament. It would be
Steve Fisher's last victory at
Michigan.
Sep.8, 1997
President Lee Bollinger
hires Tom Goss to replace Joe
Roberson as the University's
ninth Athletic Director and ...
Oct. 11, 1997
... within five weeks, Goss
decides to "change the
program." He fires Fisher ...

ven before the chasm between Michigan
and Michigan State. became so evident,
J ason Richardson saw a major difference
while deciding which of the two programs to join.
"At Michigan State the guys are like brothers
and the coaches are like fathers," said Richardson,
a sophomore All-America candidate for the Spar-
tans. "It was the family atmosphere that pulled me
in. I didn't see that at Michigan."
Richardson could have done a lot of good for
the Michigan basketball program. But while for-
mer Michigan State star Mateen Cleaves was per-
suading Richardson to become a Spartan - and
while former North Carolina star Jerry Stack-
house persuaded Joe Forte to become a Tar Heel
and former Duke standout Grant Hill persuaded
Shane Battier to become a Blue Devil -- Michi-
gan standout Chris Webber, now an NBA super-
star, sat idle.
The family members of these programs share
the success that Michigan State, North Carolina
and Duke enjoy. Cleaves, Hill and Stackhouse
return to their alma maters during the offseason to
play against fellow alumni from the NBA and to
help recruit future alumni who'll play in the NBA.
This is not the case at Michigan.
"It's one of the few places where people don't
come back during the summer," Webber said. "It's
a shame. All of that personnel and there's no sense
of community. The players feel like there's no rea-
son to come back. The players feel sold out. The
coaches were sold out. The (former) assistant
coaches were sold out.
"When I was (at Michigan), guys would always
come back:"
Sean Higgins is one guy who used to come
back. Higgins played for both former coaches Bill
Frieder and Steve Fisher, and was a teammate of
Terry Mills and Glen Rice on Michigan's lone
national championship team.
"Michigan needs to play off the tradition and
Michigan family," Higgins said.
"We just about slept together. We were such a
family and you need that at that age.
"(Even) the Detroit Pistons would come and
play with us during the offseason. (Michigan)
guys like (Antoine) Joubert, Richard Rellford and
(Roy) Tarpley would always stop by and play
against us during the summertime. I haven't had a
chance to get up there lately. But a couple sum-
mers I went up there and played when Jerod Ward
and Travis Conlan were there"
This was when Fisher was still the coach.
ld the play-
ers ever
divorce them- "It's one o
selves from the school atp
North Carolina? "That places wh
could never happen at '
North Carolina," said r
Stackhouse, who cur- during the
rently plays for the Pis-
tons. "I play wifh North All of that
Carolina players duringa
the summertime. During and here'
the summertime a lot of of c mr
the guys go back and we
have a chance to play -
together. Sacrament
"It always helps when
you have older players going back and giving.,a lit-
tle bit of knowledge to the younger players. It
keeps the program strong."
It was only eight years ago that Michigan and
North Carolina were separated by just one time-
out. What was once a dark moment now seems
pretty bright for Michigan. That time of the brief
Michigan dynasty seems more and more distant
with every NIT loss, with every nationally-tele-
vised embarrassment - that time when Michigan
was better than Michigan State, when the Wolver-
ines could compete with Duke and North Caroli-
na. Of course, this was before the breakup of the
Michigan family - when there was a cachet
about the Michigan basketball program that no
longer exists.
After this past December's 104-61 debacle
against the Blue Devils, Duke co-captain Nate

James said: "Those Fab Five days are over. There
aren't any Chris Webbers out there for Michigan
any longer"
Eight years ago Webber decided not to post-
pone NBA riches and fame for another shot at
beating Duke. When Webber left Michigan after
his sophomore year, he made it a point to watch
the Michigan-Duke game on TV every year. But
with no chance of competing with the Blue Dev-
ils, he no longer watches his alma mater when the
opportunity presents itself.
"I don't watch the Michigan-Duke game any
more. Not until we have a chance to win," Webber
said before this year's game.
Fellow Michigan legend Cazzie Russell feels the
same way. "I haven't been back since they retired
my number (before the 1993 Duke game)," Russell
said.
Russell's 33 is the only number Michigan has
ever retired, but that doesn't change the way he
feels towards the program. "There doesn't seem to
be any loyalty. There isn't a close bond," Russell
said.
nd at Duke? "This whole place is a fami-
ly," freshman guard Chris Duhon said.
"This school has great tradition ... great
unity ... great pride ... once you leave here it's
like I'm leaving home, but you always have a
place to come back."
The Michigan coaching staff recognizes the
importance of strengthening the Michigan family,
but hasn't been able to implement a remedy.
"I know when I was at Cal, to have (former Cal-
Berkeley stars and NBA All Stars) Jason Kidd
and Shareef (Abdur Rahim) help out, obviously it
helps you with recruiting," Michigan assistant
coach Kurtis Townsend said.
Some players have come back. Travis Conlan,
who was a senior during Ellerbe's first season, talks
to his former coach over e-mail. He returns during
the summer for an alumni golf outing that Ellerbe
has organized to restore the Michigan family. But
even Conlan is let down by the program.
"I'm a little disappointed as an alumnus,' Con-
Ian said. "You like to see your team do well. At
Michigan, the one thing you've got to do is win.
"I hope they get things going in the right direc-
tion. Michigan doesn't tolerate losing teams -
the fans or the alumni. When you win, every-
thing's fine. When you lose, you've got some
problems. Coach Ellerbe knows that if he doesn't
win he's not going to be there. If they bring in a
guy like (Rick) Pitino, it'd be great for the pro-
gram. Michigan's going
to bring in a big-name
)f the few guy, if they go ahead and
get rid of Ellerbe.
ere people "There's a lot of
potential there, but you
can only use that word so
sum m er... many times. At some
point you've got to start
personnel backing it up with some
of your players."
s no sense While Conlan still
roots for Michigan and
ni " remains in contact with
Chris Webber ('91-'93) Ellerbe, he remains clos-
o Kings All-Star forward er with Fisher. Conlan
plans on visiting Fisher
soon.
"I plan on seeing him and Dutcher. Those guys
recruited me so I'in excited to see those guys,"
Conlan said. "They only won six games in two
years (at San Diego State) and now they've won
11 games in one year so they're doing a good job
out there."
Conlan, like most alumni who played for Fish-
er, attributes the demise of the family to Fisher's
departure and the lack of familiarity with the pro-
gram that resulted from his exit. "When we were
at Michigan there was a different coach," Conlan
said. "Fisher was our coach, and when that guy
leaves, you feel like you don't know anyone
there." Conlan cited how at some basketball pow-
ers, the coach stays for years, if not decades.
"Hopefully, Michigan will be able to build that
with Ellerbe, or whoever they bring in," Conlan said.

He remembers how difficult it can be to play for
a new coach. "It was a tough situation," Conlan
said. "It was (Fisher's team). Fish left two months
before that. We were an upperclassmen-oriented
team, so we knew everything we were doing. We
ran the same offense as we did when Fish was
there. Brian just stepped in and implemented a lit-
tle. lie didn't want to change too much because it
would be too drastic of a change at that time. So
we just ran our own stuff and the year after that he
got to put in what he wanted to do."
While Michigan has struggled since the
changeover that took place three seasons ago,
North Carolina - which has changed coaches
twice since then - has continued to flourish and
is now ranked No. 1 in the country.

off, it becomes more ii
who represent the su
upheld, to continue to
the team. "The players1
tity, associate head co
like for the players to c
to be involved with the1
talk positively about th
happened here in a whi
Said Ellerbe: "I thi
coming back). I start
where we could try toj
lettered to come back
us to develop a real ma
"I remember talki
coach) Red Berenson
years that they tried tc

amal Crawford, the shooting guard who left guys, and we've had al
Michigan after just one season, has stayed in But Ellerbe said pla
4) touch with the coaching staff and some of his prevented the response
former teammates. Crawford grew up with his Webber said that h
father living thousands of miles away. When he Campus during the o
arrived at Michigan, Ellerbe played the "father fig- enthusiasm and fun.
ure" role for Crawford, a role Fisher played for asked how to restore d
Juwan Howard six years prior. To this day, I'm not the Athletic D
Howard frequently talks to Fisher and the other Unfortunately, thee
coaches and players that supported him while he doesn't know, either.
played for Michigan. "I think it's an obli
"I keep in contact with all of (my teammates develop the family at.
from Michigan)," Howard said. "Coach Steve has not yet addressed
Fisher, (assistant coach) Brian Dutcher, Chris said: "If I've got this j
(Webber), Jalen (Rose), Jimmy (King), Ray (Jack- that teams perform the
son) ... We're still a family." "With the resources
But there have not been any newborns lately. sports should finish int
Eric Riley, Howard's teammate for two years, If they don't, it's up toi
said: "It's been about seven years (since I was last adjustments are made.
in Ann Arbor). We used to get together during the What those adjustn
summer, but, when there was the problem, a lot of evaluated at the endc
people started to feel uncomfortable." sports are"
The problem is
the NCAA's investi-
gation into booster Webber, who refuses
Ed Martin's connec- '.m.
tion to the Michigan to return to Michigan,
basketball team.
Martin was a Michi- and Ju wan Howard
gan booster through-.,
out the late 1980s attended Fisher's sum-
and early '90s who
allegedly gave mer camp last year at
money to some of .
Michigan's best San Diego State.
players, including
Webber, Robert Traylor and Jalen Rose. need to go back to ti
Many former Wolverines have testified before 4 season and see what
federal grand jury trial involving Martin, and the the program," Higgi
verdict could have severe ramifications to the . (Ellerbe's) the man fo
Michigan basketball program, potentially costing Only 598 students
Michigan the opportunity to play on national tele- year, the lowest total ev
vision, or play in the postseason. Once rumors So how will Martin
started to swirl about the NCAA placing Michi- win. I've been a winn
gan on probation, Athletic Director Tom Goss job, part of it is to ma
fired Fisher just before the 1997-98 season and the way they should," N
hired Ellerbe. Less than three years after Fisher's Three years of losin
firing, Goss was forced to resign. problems and fan apa
"Our position has been: 'We want this over yes- team. "It's been pretty
terday,' " current Athletic Director Bill Martin Jones said. "The seas
said. "As long as (the Ed Martin situation) lasts been pretty tough. Id
we are on de facto probation. Other coaches can have (forecasted the pr
talk about the shadow we are under (while recruit- And nothing accent
ing against Michigan). I think we've suffered the absence and disint
enough." "It's a two-way stree

mportant for alumni players, *
ccess that Michigan once
associate themselves with
give (the program) an iden-
ach Scott Trost said. "You'd
come back. You'd like them
program. You'd like them to
he program, but that hasn't
le."
ink it's key (to get players
ed the alumni golf outing
get every player who's ever
here and that would allow
iling list.
ng to (Michigan hockey
and he said the first four
o do that they got only 20
lot better response:'
yers' "busy schedules" have
for which he hoped.
he would return to South
ffseason if the excitement,
was restored. But when ,
this he said: "I don't know.
)irector."
existing Athletic Director
gation on our part to help
Michigan," Martin said. He
this issue specifically, but
ob, part of it is to make sure
way they should.
we have, every one of our
the top third of the Big Ten.
me to make sure the proper 0;
nents might entail will "be
of the season, just like all
Michigan is not
the program it
was when
Fisher was fired, and
there are few indica-
tions that Michigan will
return to the nation's
elite soon.The Wolver-
ines appear to constant-
ly rebuild, and fewer
and fewer fans believe
in the program with
each season. "They
he drawing board after the
weaknesses they have in
ns said. "I don't know if
r the job or not"
bought season tickets this
ver documented.
n remedy this? "One word:
er all my life. If I've got this
ke sure that teams perform
Martin said.
ng, unforeseen off-the-court
ithy has left a mark on the
tough," junior guard Leon
ons I've been here have all
don't think anybody could
oblems)."
is the frustration more than
erest of former star players.
t;' Ellerbe said. "You've got
ma mater. It's not just partic-
rogram. It's at the university
t opportunity to become the
ie."
asketball family ever gets
the summer, it will likely
elated to Fisher. With emo-
issal still running high, his
make a move that might be
tful to him.
didate is Crawford, now a
e. He stays in touch with
o those who feel tentative
in Arbor, and most impor-
ng during the summers.
s summer," Crawford said. "I
to start something."

ritor

1
t

March 20, 1998
... and brings in his man -
Brian Ellerbe.

Following Fisher's removal, many of his play-
ers voiced their displeasure with the Univer-
sity's decision, including Webber, who said
he's "not a Michigan Man" but rather a "Fisher
Man."
To this day, Webber remains close with Fisher.
Webber, who refuses to return to Michigan, and
Howard, attended Fisher's summer camp last year,
and expect to this year.
Today, many of Fisher's players remain upset at
how Michigan handled the issue.
"I'm disappointed in how they treated Steve
Fisher," Howard said. He still follows the Wolver-
ines but "doesn't know many people" currently at
Michigan.
As Michigan's cachet as an elite power wears

to reach out to your alr
ular people but it's a p
that you got that great
person that you becom
If the Michigan b
back together during
require a liaison not r
tions of Fisher's dism
players are reluctant to
perceived as disrespect
One possible cand
Chicago Bulls rooki
Ellerbe, has a link ti
about returning to Ar
tantly, plans on returni
"I'm going back this
think it only takes one 1

7997-'98 season
Ellerbe's first season as coach
- on an interim basis -
Michigan wins the Big Ten
Tournament title and beats
T~ r% 4 --

Wins

1993: 26-4
NCAA Finals
1995: 17-13 9
1994:21-7 First Round NCA NIT Cha
Elite Eight NCAA

m

9-11
impions

2000: 15-13
First Round NIT loss

-A e w. A

mm

-1998: 24.8

U

m

Fn Sy '+

II

I

'1tf~ltlj Mt117uaanl._ 4 T4

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