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MARCH 13, 2001
Students call for head
of beleaguered coach
*Two oits to ponder in
E llerbe' tryig time
don't know if there's any sport
where emotions boil quite like they
do in college basketball.
An atmosphere riddled with tension
is created by fans, by consistently fran-
tic last-second endings, and of course
*y the grueling competition. Anyone
who listens to the commentary of the
sensational Dick Vitale or Bill Raftery
can tell that this sport thrives on the
With so many emotions and so much
stress building during Michigan's
painstaking 2000-'01 season regarding
the future of coach Brian Ellerbe, pas-
sions on all sides have gone unchecked
cool reason. Everyone concerned
Ivith the program - from players to
media to coaches to spectators - has
had his vision blurred at one time or
another by the heat of battle.
Now the season is over, and so is
Ellerbe's tenure as Michigan's basket-
It's time to take a step back from the
X's and O's of basketball and consider
how the loss of a job affects a life.
Here's one reason to feel sorry for
rian Ellerbe, and one reason to harbor
At 8:57 on a Tuesday night in
January, as Michigan State brings in
Matt Ishbia, the last man on its bench,
because the Spartans have domineered
the Wolverines for nearly two hours en
route to an easy victory, it seems the
proper time to bellow the phrase, "Fire
With the season finally over, it's
ough to think about Ellerbe, packing
up his belongings and moving out of
Weidenbach Hall, pausing every few
minutes to savor the good memories
he's collected in four years, and not feel
bad for the guy.
Firing Ellerbe isn't like making a
transaction in fantasy baseball, this is a
real man who will have to find a real
new home and a real new job to pro-
vide him with personal fulfillment. -
The way Ellerbe exited makes me
&ven more condolent. To be honest, for
much of the season, I saw Ellerbe as
rather snide and standoffish. At the
very least, it was clear he didn't trust
the press, even when dealing with
seemingly trivial subjects.
But as the year waned, I saw Ellerbe
in a new light. Fielding a bombardment
of questions about his future, phrased
and rephrased in every possible pattern
of words, begging him to make a story,
he became poised and graceful.
"How does all the speculation about
your job affect you personally?"
He wasn't concerned for himself,
men had triumphed in the face of
greater misfortune, he was concerned
for his family. Next question.
"Do you think the University has
given you a fair shake?"
He thinks Bill Martin, Lee Bollinger
and Michigan have had integrity
throughout the process, and he'd like to
think that he has integrity as well, that's
why he isn't getting involved in the
Watching the press search for a reac-
tion and seeing Ellerbe respond with
class each time will forever change my
memory of the man.
The flip side: It's hard to feel too
sorry for a man who is making hun-
dreds of thousands of dollars annually
to coach college basketball.
I know plenty of people who would
not only perform that task for free, they
would also be willing to saw off their
limbs if it could assist their candidacy.
I certainly hope that Ellerbe isn't
presently sitting somewhere, simmering
about what was taken away from him
rather than reflecting on the unbeliev-
able opportunity he was given.
And his coaching life isn't over, nor
is he poor or homeless. All over the
country Ellerbe is a renowned recruiter,
and he will surely land at least an assis-
tant's job quickly. There will again be a
chance for Brian Ellerbe to rise to lead
a Division I basketball program; to
learn from the mistakes he made as a
young coach at Michigan and become
So with that, I say don't hold a heavy
heart, Michigan, toward Brian Ellerbe,
who couldn't win consistently but never
represented this school without class,
even under the most adverse circum-
Nor should you, Brian Ellerbe, hold
a heavy heart toward Michigan, which
gave you every chance it could while
you were here, and wishes you well in
all future endeavors.
Dan Williams can be reached at
By Steve Jackson and
J. Brady McCoHough
Daily Sports Writers
As the cloud of impending doom
descends upon Michigan basketball
coach Brian Ellerbe, students across
campus are clamoring for his dismissal.
"You don't want a coach who spends
half the game staring at the floor,"
Kinesiology sophomore Mike
Some students have even started
pools to determine when Ellerbe's final
day will be.
"I bet on him losing his job nine days
after the season, so I hope he doesn't get
fired tomorrow," LSA freshman Allison
Topp said last night.
But Ellerbe does have some support-
em on campus.
"He hasn't had a recruiting class go
all the way through," LSA freshman 1
Tyler King said. "Give him a couple
years with his own seniors on the team
and then decide."
After a disappointing 10-18 season,
many students are trying to dwell fondly
on more prosperous days the program
"It hasn't been fun since we had Dugan
Fife, Maceo Baston and them," LSA
sophomore Adam Hamilton said. "They
just can't keep good players here."
Last year the Wolverines lost Jamal
Crawford to the NBA and Kevin Gaines
for disciplinary reasons, and this year's
freshman class has had off-the-court
problems of its own.
"There's like 100 people on the foot-
ball team, and they don't cause half as
much trouble as the 10 basketball play-
ers do," Engineering sophomore Sean:
Some think that a big name coach is
the answer to Michigan fans' prayers.
"We need Pitino," LSA freshman
Deepak Diwan said. "Tell Pitino I'm
issuing the call for him to come here.
I'll be at every single home game if he
For many the bottom line is winning,
and winning is not something Ellerbe
has done consistently. Over the last ihiee
seasons, the team has a 37-51 regord
under Ellerbe. : .
- "If we're not a winning team, there it'
time for a change," SNRE sophon ro
Shannon Charney said.
"We didn't win," LSA freshman Peter
Janowski said. "If you don't win at
Michigan, you're out."
While most students think that
Michigan needs a change in the coaching
position, the general consensus is that the
dismissal should be done with class.
"We should treat him with respect,"
LSA freshman Kenneth Wall said. "He
gave it his best shot, but it wasn't good
w r __.
Despite his own contention that he expects to ret an as Michigan's head coach
next year, a press conference to announce Elerbe' s firing could come at any time.
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