MARCH 14, 2001
Martin lays first
brck in Michian
M ark down yesterday's date. Because that was the day
tht the Michigan men's basketball program was
Until the recent success of Michigan State, basketball was
got a major priority for Michigan fans or alumni. Football was
4that really mattered. But no one likes to lose to their annoy-
iJ ittle brother. So once the Spartans found success, a win-
i basketball program suddenly became imperative.
Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin says that all
?ichigan teams should finish on average in the top third of
the Big Ten each year.
"Wins and losses are important," Martin said. "It's fun to
6We expect to win. It's a part of the Michigan tradition."
nWith 10th, seventh, and 10th place finishes over Brian
Mebe's past three years, Michigan fell
wvl1 short of that mark. Now, thanks to
Ml4ehigan State, Ellerbe is out and a
c'mmitment to winning is back.
Martin and the athletic department are
dy to do whatever it takes to restore
61:y to Michigan basketball. Despite
th University's tradition of promoting
from within or hiring a relative
rknown, Martin said that none of the MICHAEL
Mrchigan assistants would be offered a KERN
chace at the job and that he was seek-
iig a coach who had already succeeded Lnhe
O4he Division I level.
'Martin wants a name. He wants some-
:o e who can make Michigan a contender quickly. So do the
Yesterday, Martin said that he believed the new coach
Would be able to turn this team around in two to three years.
H's right. Under Steve Fisher, Michigan went from a 14-15
season and a trip to the NIT in the 1990-'91 season to NCAA
!rmners-up in 1991-'92. Even with the Wolverines' recent
tioules, repeating that feat with the right coach in today's
fast-paced world of college basketball is entirely possible.
An his press conference, Martin named renovating Crisler
Arena as another priority that could revamp the face of
Michigan basketball. It should be No. 1 on his list.
Crisler is the second worst arena in the Big Ten, just barely
edging out Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena, which at 8,117
seats hardly qualifies as a Big Ten venue.
Most game nights, Crisler is as quiet as the Law library and
Ialf as full. Its amenities are terrible and the weightlifting and
workout facilities, shared by many of the University's 25 var-
sity athletic teams, are horribly out of date.
Martin's goal is to create "a more hostile environment for
visiting teams" while updating the facilities for all Michigan
sports teams. He said yesterday that Crisler was more like a
theatre than a basketball arena and that Yost, which hosted
games until Crisler Arena's opened in 1967, was a much bet-
ter venue despite its diminutive size.
Martin added that he would like to remove a number of the
padded seats that surround the arena floor and replace them
with benches. But making Crisler more fan friendly is just the
Men's basketball is a revenue sport. But lately, it has been
Martin said yesterday that in Ellerbe's tenure, paid atten-
dance dropped an estimated 30 to 35 percent and that student
ticket sales went from around 3,000 to around 600.
But now Michigan is finally righting the ship. For the first
time in a few years, the Wolverines appear to be on track.
In the next couple of weeks, Martin will bring in a coach
with the winning attitude that has been missing from this pro-
gram for the last few years. Then come the players and a win-
Michigan basketball finally has a plan for success. And yes-
terday was just step one.
Michael Kern can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athletic Director Bill Martin ended the rumors yesterday by announcing that he had asked basketball coach Brian Ellerbe to step down on Sunday.
Basketb all community
responds to firing
* Michigan players, Izzo
express sadness over
former coach's forced
By Dan Williams
Daily Sports Editor
As the dismissal of Michigan bas-
ketball coach Brian Ellerbe became
public knowledge yesterday follow-
ing media reports and Athletic
Director Bill Martin's official press
conference, players, coaches and
people close to the situation reacted.
Throughout the season, nearly all
the players rallied to the support of
their coach, and yesterday's respons-
es conveyed the same attitude.
"I think everybody feels the same
way," sophomore Gavin Groninger
said. "Mr. Martin feels like this is
best for the University, and we sup-
portthat, but we also support coach
"He's going to move on and coach
somewhere else. He's got a lot of
time to be a coach."
Freshman Bernard Robinson did
exhibit some displeasure that the
decision to fire Ellerbe was made so
quickly after Martin met with the
coach and some of the players.
These meetings were completed on
"It wasn't that much of a surpise,"
freshman Bernard Robinson said.
"But it was a surprise how fast they
evaluated the situation. I thought
they would at least consider things
The players met with Ellerbe at
approximately 3 p.m. yesterday to
bid farewell. The assistant coaches
were also at the meeting. Ellerbe
wished the players the best of luck,
told them to mind their studies and
advised them to stay at Michigan
and complete their degrees.
"You can never take something
like that with a smile on your face,"
Michigan freshman Josh Moore
After meeting with Ellerbe, the
players stuck around to discuss how
they would handle the transition
period as a group. With players like
Moore and Robinson publicly ques-
tioning whether or not they would
remain at Michigan after Ellerbe
was fired, the team set groundrules
for handling such decisions.
"We talked about staying together
See REACTIONS, Page 12
WA LOOK INTOY
* AN IN DEPTH
top candidate s
By Dan Williams
Daily Sports Editor
Yesterday, Athletic Director Bill Martin called his
decision to ask Brian Ellerbe to step down, "extremely
difficult" and "painful." Now Martin has possibly a m
digestable decision ahead of him, and one that may up
mately dictate his legacy.
Over the next few weeks, Martin will meet with can-
didates to replace Ellerbe as coach of the Michigan bas-
At or near the top of the list is former.-Boston Celtics
coach Rick Pitino.
Before leaving for the NBA, Pitino led Kentucky t
three Final Fours, including a national championship in
1996. He also led Providence to the Final Four in 1985;
Since Pitino stepped down as Celtics' coach, his name
has surfaced with nearly every possible major opening i
Division I coaching positions, most prominently UCL,
UNLV, Louisville and Michigan. He has said that bz
wants to return to college coaching.
On Feb. 8, ESPN analyst Dick Vitale reported that
Pitino would not consider taking over the UCLA jo
from Steve Lavin, who still holds the position.
Then on March 5, it was reported that Pitino removef
his name from consideration for the UNLV post, because
he didn't feel he fit in with the program.
Louisville, where legend Denny Crum is retiring, .s
now considered the frontrunner for Pitino's serviAc
Pitino has expressed interest in the job, and the Cardin
hold him at the top of their list.
"This program definately needs a shot in the arm, arid
we're going to need somebody of the caliber of Coach
See CANDIDATES, Page 13
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