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February 06, 2001 - Image 10

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SPOTS

TUESDAY
FEBRUARY 6, 2001

10

Big
Ellerbe calm ii
midst of storm
By Dan Williams
Dl)ily Sports Editfr

Ten-sion

CHRIS
DUPREY

Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe is feeling pressure from every
direction pressure from the fans, media and Athletic
Director Bill Martin, who all have made public demands for
improvement in the basketball program.
But Ellerbe's style is to remain unflustered and undistracted,
even in the face of adversity.
"For me, I don't think it's been any different, in a lot of
respects, than the day I walked in the door," Ellerbe said. "It's
interesting to me how many things are blown out of proportion.
But that's part of it: the only way to alleviate it is to play well."
There have been very few days for Illerbe to relax with the
sanctity of a secure job. But many of his players have noticed
that the roadslicks in Michigan's past three seasons haven't
changed the coach's attitude towards handling wins, losses or
people.
"Ile gets a little high when we win, a little low when we lose.
but pretty much he's on an even keel." Michigan junior Chris
Young said.
Junior Leon Jones added: "I think we've experienced some
hardships as a team since he's been here, with some people
leaving early and stuff like that, but I think he's pretty much
been stable."
This year. Michigan has fallen to a disappointing 3-6 Big Ten
record (9-I I overall) and suflered numerous embarrassing
losses along the way. But throughout the trials. Ellerbe has said
that his young players have been unfairly forced into lead roles.
Expectations for the team may have been overblown.
"I don't have any problem with confidence in my team
I'm realistic." lEllerbe said.
Ile maintains that if' former Michigan players Jamal
Ctaw ford and Kevin Gaines were still in uniform, freshmen
Avery Queen. Maurice Searight and Bernard Robinson would
be learning as bench players rather than struggling as starters.
Ellerbe has also said that an NIT berth would be a good
experience for the youthful team.
Another issue EIllerbe has faced is that his team has had trou-
ble coming together and at times has even admitted to quitting.
Michigan sophomore Gavin Groninger said that Illerbe has
attempted to bring the team together, but ultimately, the play-
ers have to make things cohesive on the court.
"Most of the struggle this year has been getting us to try to
come together. (Ellerbe) has tried everything in his power to
get us to come together, but it's on us," Groninger said. "We've
had guys over for team dinners at our house, but it 's tough to
force people to come together. it just has to happen on our
own.
Illerbe's team is not faulting him for any team solidarity
problems. But if Ellerbe is to be saved, it's not likely he will be
able to simply harness his callow talent in a build-toward-next-
year plan.
"lle tries to be positive and tries to say that we're getting bet-
ter," Jones said. "We need to get better this year and make a
run. We're not looking forward to next year."

BRANDON SEDLIFF faty
Freshman Bernard Robinson is one ray of hope for coach Brian Ellerbe. He realizes the
only way to alleviate it is to play well."
State faces toughest test
In Chatonht

By Michael Kern
Dilv Sports Ldtilor
In college basketball. February is critical
in (eterminingr conference championships
and NCAA tournament berths. With six
teams within two games of first place in the
Big Ten, the last three weeks of the regular
season will determine who's dancing and
who's staying home.
With key matchups this week like No. 4
Michigan State visiting No. 7 Illinois and
No. 14 Wisconsin at Purdue, this week
could have as~big a place as any in dividing
the top teams from the also-rans.
No. 14 Iowa which stands just half' a
game behind the Spartans and Fighting Illini
for first place in the standings needs to
keep pace by fighting off let downs against
Ohio State and Northwestern.
"It's separation week." lowa coach Steve
Alford said. "By the end of this week you'll
see that the-majority of the leagues have
gone through the tiering process. By the end
of this week, the Big Ten will be a three-tier
league, and we are doing everything we can
to be in that top tier."
For a team like Purdue that is 5-4 in the
Big Ten and 13-7 overall, games against
Wisconsin and Illinois are critical not only as
conference games but in determining
whether or not they will make the NCAA
Tournament.

"This week is real important. I don't think
we have ever gone in as (less than an 8-seed)?"
Purdue coach Gene Keadv said. "...This is a
big week for us. If we are going to be in the
NCAA, we've got to get one this week"
Mm-, v : In a battle of the two con-
ference heavyweights, first place teams
Illinois and Michigan State square off
tonight in the biggest matchup of the Big
Ten season this year.
The two schools were picked by both the
coaches and the media to finish at the top of'
the 1i3g Ten this season and have not disap-
pointed.
The game features matchups of some of
the premier players not just in the confer-
ence but in the country. While Illinois' big
men Brian Cook and Marcus Griflin go
head-to-head in the paint with Zach
Randolph and Andre HIutson of the
Spartans, the Fighting Illini's Frank
Williams and Corey Bradford with also be
in a war with Michigan State's two leading
scorers, Jason Richardson and Charlie Bell.
"Those teams are explosive,"
Northwestern coach Bi11 Carmody said.
"On Saturday (at Illinois), we got outscored
20-0 at one point. They both are very athlet-
ic and both well coached."
Most importantly, this is the only regular
season matchup between the two schools -
making this game all the more important as
See BIG TEN, Page 12

One year U
mess still i
>morrow marks the one-year
T nniversary of the forced resig-
nation of Athletic Director Tom
Goss. At the time the dismissal looked
more like the workings of a conniving
puppetmaster-president. But over these
12 months it's been proven that the wis-
dom 6f Lee Bollinger does extend to the
Athletic Department.
As time passes. information contin-
ues to surfice about Goss' inadequacies
on the job most notably, his misman-
agenient of the Nike negotiations and
his grasp of the needs of Michigan's
varsity sports roster.
Bargaining on the strength of two
national championships in 1997, Goss
pressed for what was described as
"Tiger Woods money" from Nike when
the two sides convened to negotiate a
contract extension at the end of 1999.
Nike balked, Goss refused to back
down, and relations became frozen.
Nike wasn't oflering petty cash.
(ioss could have accepted a six-year,.
S24-million deal but instead demanded
more gold.
Knowing Michigan's current con-
tract expired at the conclusion of the
1999-2000 sports season. Nike called
Goss' bluff: Goss had a choice: Cave in
and sign. or watch Michigan athletes
compete naked in 2X)0-01.
Goss split the difference. I lis mis-
management led to Bill Martin, his suc-
cessor, ending the partnership with Nike
and forging'a retail arrangement. where
the University would pay S760,000 for
one year's worth of uni forms and cloth-
ing to outfit its varsity sports teams.
Michigan did not receive any sum of
money for its association with Nike
because, oflicially, there wasn't any.
A shortfall in alumni donations and
the default of a radio advertising contract
led to a projected S3-million budget
deficit for 1999-2000. Afler the books
were closed on the fiscal year, that
amount was reduced to SI.45 million.
I low could Goss have recouped
SI.45 million ? By signing the deal that
wvas offered to him. which would have
included an approximately S 1.2-million
yearly payment to the University. Such a
deal would have eliminated the need for
the S760,000 outlay that Goss eventual-
ly authorized.
Add the S1.2 million payment to the
S760,000 savings from the one-time

0
f *
7ter, Goss
ngers -
purchase: Nearly S2 million would have
been created had Goss signed the exten-
sin. Granted, these cash receipts might
have taken place in diflerent fiscal
years. But that's merely an accounting
technicality.
The bottom line is this: Goss could
have bailed out the budget by signing
the Nike deal. The reason he hedgd
was not because of labor-rights issues. It
was because of greed.
Goss wanted "Tiger Woods money.
When he didn't get it, he salvaged his
bargaining pride instead at the
expense of the Athletic Department.
No RVENtI:E, No silow: Non-rev-
enue sports atrophied during Goss'
tenure. Rarely, if ever, did Goss come
calling to the non-revenues, seeking
their opinions. On matters relating to
campus' smaller teams, Goss ruled from
behind his desk. t
This became a significant problem,
when discipline was involved. Parentspf
seven players on one non-revenue teaN
complained about the coach's disorgani-
zation and lack of leadership. Goss
interviewed all involved parties and .
placed the coach, who has since left the
University, on one years probation.
A person fimiliar with the situation
believing the allegations to be unf'ound-
ed wished (ioss would have investiga.'
ed .some of the claims for himself. This
person said Goss "never came to one"
event involving that sport during his29
month tenure as Athletic Director, nor
did he stay up to date with the program.
At the time, the University had 23
varsity sports and Goss reportedly had- -
n't been to one of the afirementioned
team's events in nearly three years. The
state of Michigan has 83 countiesa nd
Governor John Engler makes at least
one appearance in each annually.
Before Martin became the perha-
nent Athletic Director this past August,
men's cross country coach Ron
Warhurst asked Martin how long it
would take to "clean things up."
Martin said 18 months. Based on
that estimate, a year of Fxxon-Valde/
cleanup remains for Martin before the'
Athletic Department can begin making
real progress.
A year after his departure, the Goss
Smog still lingers. 3
Chris 1)D/wv can he reached at
cdupn&'q>>uiich.edu.

Omaha not too far for Michigan faithful

By JRap C. Moloney
Dar, Sports Writer
Michigan defenseman Mike
Komisarek raised his arms and
grii d as the red light behind beaten
goalie Dan Ellis signaled a 3-1 score
and the end of Nebraska-Omaha's
hopes for a sweep of this past week-
end series.
The Mavericks' fans, mellowed by
two-and-a-half periods of alcohol
con-.wmption and by the realities of a
two-goal deficit, resignedly stared up
at :a unabashed explosion of glee
fronm the nether-regions of section 79
in the Omaha Civic Auditorium.
"Hail! To the victors valiant! Ilail!
To the conquering heroes!"
The only blue in an arena full of
recd hose who stood in tribute to their
hockey heroes from Ann Arbor were
never short on moxie, though some

suggested it was the liquid.
"They're just happy because they
can buy beer," grumbled one
Nebraska-Omaha fan.
Beer was certainly an added bonus
in the CCIIA's only alcohol-selling
arena, but it wasn't the reason why
approximately 150 Michigan fans
ventured to the heart of' the midwest.
"There's a reputation that Michigan
fans aren't that good, that we're quiet
and fair-weather." Michigan LSA
junior Ramsay Trix said. "There's a
core group of us who are really dedi-
cated, we go all the time.
"There's a group who came over
from Denver to see this --- it says a lot
about the program," he said.
The loyal Can base in Ann Arbor
and the metropolitan suburbs of'
Detroit flew in to Omaha on Thursday
night and Friday morning, some in
time to attend the Blue and Red lun-

cheon featuring Michigan coach Red
Berenson and Nebraska-Omaha
coach Mike Kemp.
Many from the Michigan group
became acquainted with the
Wolverines' fan base in Omaha and
the surrounding area -- to the point'
of hanging out with each other before
and after games.
"It's my theory that there are
Michigan fans no matter where you
go," said Bill Adlhoch, a resident of
Plymouth 1990 Michigan graduate.
"Half the people live in this area
and half the people have actually trav-
eled out here."
Once in the arena, the Michigan
fans remained standing all night,
reciting all the favorite cheers from
Michigan hockey home games at Yost
Arena. An indication of the group's
older, more mature age makeup, the
road version of the cheer "C-Ya" is
abridged -the colorful language at
the conclusion of the cheer was omit-
ted.

Many times during the Friday and
Saturday night games. such as after a
big hit or a key clear, the Wolverines'
fans generated more excitement than
their Nebraska-Omaha hosts.
"It doesn't really matter what our
numbers are." Ann Arbor resident
Tom McKenzie said "we're still
going to cheer as loud or louder than
anybody else. We've had a ball out
here."
In some more established stops in
the CCI IA. Michigan fans often deal
with animosity on the part of' fans of
the home team.
The Michigan fans in Omaha.
some of whom were featured promi-
nently in a picture on the front page
of the Omaha World I lerald sports
section on Sunday. gave only glowing
reviews of their counterparts in spirit.
"These fans have been some of the
most hospitable fans. I liken them to
the Penn State fans in football,"
Adlhoch said. "Maybe it's because
See OMAHA, Page 12

AP PHOT
Eric Keiffer, an Oklahoma State student wears the number 10 on his face to honor
the people killed in a plane crash returning home from a Colorado basketball game.
Cowboys maKe emotion
return; topple Missouri

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STILLWATER. Okla. (AP) -- _
Oklahoma State's basketball team played
a game last night. giving the players and
coaches a chance to focus - f'or a while.
at least --- on something other than the
loss of 10 friends.
Welcomed by a boisterous crowd, the
Cowboys returned to the court to play
Missouri in their first game since a Jan.
27 plane crash in Colorado that killed
two players and eight other members of'
the school's traveling party.
The Cowboys won. 69-66. in a spirited
game that had the crowd inside
Gallagher-lba roaring all night. Fredrik
Jonzen scored 26 and Maurice Baker had
22 for Oklahoma State.

shortly before the game. Then, moments
later, the arena fell silent for 30 seconds
to honor the victims.
Four minutes before gametime, the
arena rocked with noise once again as the
team came onto the floor. Coach Eddie
Sutton followed moments later, trailed by
nearly a dozen television cameras.
"Remembering our fallen 10. well
prove once again this is the rowdiec
arena in the country," public address
announcer Larry Reece bellowxed before
introducing the starting lineups. As usual,
each Cowboy was greeted with a roar.
The game program was dedicated to
the victims, Nate Fleming and Dan
Lawson (a Detroit area native) and the

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