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November 08, 2001 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-08

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lOB - The Michigan Daily - Tipoff 2001 - Thursday, November 8, 2001


The Michigan Daily - Tipoff 20t

i's not easy following the footsteps and trans-
gressions of past freshmen on the Michigan
basketball team. One's only models to follow
over the past three years have been players who
have jumped to the NBA, transferred, gotten sus-
pended, or got kicked off the team completely
It's no joke. The probability of an incoming
frosh of the past three years staying with the pro-
gram is an embarrassing 57 percent, as six of the
14 newcomers are no longer a part of the program.
The survivors have had their share of problems
as well. From violating team rules to criminal.
activity, Michigan freshmen haven't had an easy
Even this year's class couldn't escape a case of
the freshman fallout, as it was rocked before it
even got a chance to start. Blue-chip recruits
JaQuan Hart and Kelly Whitney were expected to
come on the scene and add some depth to Michi-
gan's bench. But neither could make the cut aca-
demically, as each failed to achieve the minimum
test scores to fit Michigan's high standards.
"It was obviously an unfortunate situation,"
coach Tommy Amaker said. "But it's good to hear
that the two have turned it into good situations for
Hart is attending Ohio State, and will have to
gain academic eligibility before playing for the
Buckeyes, while Amaker said that Whitney will go
to prep school and, ironically, join Amaker's for-
mer program, Seton Hall.
So who's left to pick up the pieces?
Three Michigan freshmen - power forward
Chuck Bailey and two guards in Domminac Inger-
son and Marcus Bennett - survived the storm and
will try to save face for a once highly-touted class.
Amaker's plan to revitalize the program depends
on the contribution from the trio.
"Obviously because we're not a deep team, all
the freshmen have to be prepared to play," assis-
tant coach Chuck Swenson said. "I could see all of
them getting significant minutes."
What makes these freshmen any different from
the rest? Teammates say their attitude and willing-
ness to learn. Ingerson and Bailey came to Ann
Arbor after they graduated and started a Summer
Bridge Program that helps students make the diffi-
cult adjustment to college classes. They immedi-
ately hit the hardwood as well, sharpening their
skills and getting stronger.
A new "big brother" system has also been
established, matching up an underclassman with a
senior he can look up to for advice and guidance,
while adjusting to life on and off the court.
"We are just trying to keep their heads straight
and they actually listen," said senior tri-captain
Leon Jones, who is Ingerson's "big brother." "A lot

Robinson must overcome his controversial past

us to be successful. I mean, he doesn
have to average 30 points, but he h
to have a solid night at all times."
A revitalized Robinson with a ne
attitude accepts the larger role, ar
knows he'll be a marked man this yea
as no one will be surprised by h
high-wire acts and improved jumpe
He will also have to face the ne
demands on his versatility by playir
both guard and forward to counte
Michigan's lack of depth on the fron
line - while also proving to be one c
Amaker's defensive stoppers.
But an even tougher obstacle tha
mono or opponents for Robinson wi
be putting his freshman troubles, c
and off the court, behind him.
A "marked man" is about as wori
some as a gnat if he's sitting on th
bench, and avoiding that predicame
would be Robinson's definin
achievement and an important key 1
Michigan's success.
Before he became the go-to-gu
Robinson nearly tarnished his fresl
man season before it even began.
On Labor Day weekend, after trav
eling with fellow freshman Jos
Moore's car on their way back from
fraternity party, Robinson,. Aver
Queen and former Wolverine Kevi
Gaines were spotted by polic
wrestling in the middle of Telegrap
Road in Taylor. All three minors ha
been drinking that night, and the
antics not only put their lives in dan
ger from oncoming cars, but also the
careers. Robinson and Queen wei
arrested for misdemeanor charges o
suspicion of disorderly intoxicatic
and Ellerbe kicked Gaines off thi
team shortly thereafter.
)ly Ellerbe also suspende
hts. Robinson and Queen during
!iy not midseason for violatin
it it out unspecified team rules.
Are." "It was just us being sti
pid," Robinson said. "It wa
obinson nothing to do with being
he 2002 freshman.
BA draft. "It just taught me a lot o
things quickly here - wha
to do and what not to do."
It doesn't look like he's learned h:
lesson, and it didn't take him ver
long to show it. This past Sunday, i
Michigan's first exhibition game c
the season, Robinson was suspende
for a "violation of team rules.

of times in the past they wouldn't listen and just
brush us off - and now these guys are - which
will help them a lot."
For Ingerson, having a strong influence in his
life couldn't be more important - especially after
what he's been through. While Ingerson was a top-
20 recruit nationally last year, most of the buzz
surrounding him was a cloud of controversy over
his troublesome behavior.
That's why his coach at Santa Barbara, Jeff
Lavender, made sure he knew what he was inherit-
ing when Ingerson transferred from a school in
Oakland, Calif. He sat down with Ingerson and his
mother, and "called his old coach to try to figure
out what was going on."
What Lavender said he found was a kid who

Freshmen file

Hometown: Detroit
Position: Forward, Swingman
M' Big Brother: Mike Gotfredson
X-factor: Was in church choir,
labeled a "ham"
Notable quotable:
"He's like a little pretty boy
who's always acting cool in
front of the ladies."
-Leon Jones
Hometown: Detroit
Position: Guard-
M' Big Brother: Leon Jones
X-factor: impersonates team-
.motes in lockerrom
Notable quotable:
"He's going to be a leader on
this team someday."
- Leon Jones

Hometown: Oakland, Calif.
Position: Shooting guard
M' Big Brother: Leon Jones
X-factor: Writes own rap lyrics,
excels at Playstation 2 games
Notable quotable:
"Dom's a scoring machine.
But I'd just back him down
and take it to him."
- Chuck Bailey
The missing links from this
year's "Fob Five" are
JaQuan Hart and Kelly
Whitney. Both planned on
attending Michigan, but
were academically ineli-
gible. Hart went to Ohio
State and Whitney decid-
ed to go to prep school
before attending Seton

didn't have an easy life, a guard who "played with
a certain type of anger" and "the most skilled
guard" he had seen in 17 years of coaching.
Not only could Ingerson pull up from over six
feet behind the arc - shooting about 60 percent
from that range - but he could also attack the
basket and creatively engineer his offense to the
point that he even surprised his teammates.
"I remember over 20 times where he'd pass to a
teammate and the ball would hit him in the head or
chest," Lavender said.
Lavender remembers Ingerson exploding for 39
points and six treys against one of the top teams in
Southern California. But he also remembered
Ingerson's several suspensions, the time he almost
booted Ingerson off the team and the time when
Ingerson got kicked out of his aunt's house and
Lavender had to host him for a while.
"He's a pretty good kid and always showed me
respect;" said Santa Barbara assistant coach Adam
Sjovold. "Half of his edge is that he plays with a
chip on his shoulder and that can also get him in
trouble sometimes."
Ingerson insists that he's changed, has put the
past behind him and has placed himself in a posi-
tion where he can start fresh with Michigan.
Lavender said Ingerson is maturing and that he
will "gravitate to any influences he has - good or
bad." Despite Lavender's thoughts, Michigan's
coaching staff worried about his turbulent past.
"Going into it, quite honestly, I was (worried),"
Swenson said. "But having gotten to know him, I
don't worry about him. He's been a class guy. In
practice he's been tremendous so far as his attitude."
Teammates agree, and can attest for Ingerson's
new attitude.
"The reputation that he got in high school is not
accurate of how he actually is," said senior tri-cap-
tain Chris Young.
As far as Ingerson's performance on the court,
Amaker knows he has a talented kid who can flat
out score, as evident in his 11-point debut this past
Sunday against the EA Sports All-Stars, when he
gave Michigan a "shot in the arm," according to
his new coach.
But Amaker's worry is the same as Lavender's

Feelin' da flow
As one of Domminac Ingerson's many tal-
ents, he releases his rough life experiences
through his own form of creative expression
- rap lyrics. This lyrical thesis was printed in a
basketball program at Santa Barbara High
School during Ingerson's junior year.
I grew up in the O/Where you gotta go
trap a 44/Or yo' kids won't grow.
Where the only way of living is selling the
snow/Had no food in m
refrigerator/Never had a pager/lus we
saw the minimum of wager
Times were hard/Sometimes I feel emo-
tionally scarred/But where I lived/Nobody
had a backyard
I done been through what you seen on
TV/Gun shot wounds to children's chest/I
thought it was the way it was supposed to
be/But now I'm herein S.B./I thank God
he set me free
I'm on the other side of da road - where
the sun shines.
- Ingerson's play on the other end of the court.
"He's going to have serious problems defensive-
ly," Lavender said. "He could cruise here, but at
Michigan he can't."
Ingerson's roommate is Bailey (Detroit King),
who along with fellow recruit Bennett (Detroit
Renaissance) are from down the road in Detroit.
Bailey and Bennett played on the same AAU team,
The Family, and knew each other for awhile
before coming to Michigan.
"Playing on the same team and with my father
working with his father, we've gone through a lot
of the same issues," Bailey said.
Bailey came from a very religious background,
with both his parents being "raised in the church."
He even considers his pastor as "a second father"
"Singing in the church choir when I was
younger, being with my church family and going
See FRESHMEN, Page 13B

t one point this summer,
Michigan's sophomore
Bernard Robinson didn't think
he'd play basketball ever again.
Mononucleosis humbled Michi-
gan's high-flying swingman and the
Big Ten's best dunker as he couldn't
even grab the rim. The energy-drain-
ing virus worsened because Robinson
couldn't take Aspirin due to an allergy.
To make matters worse, his morale
plummeted below his vertical leap.
"I know when I first started, I
couldn't even walk down steps,"
Robinson said. "I couldn't even touch
the rim. It felt like I was never going
to play again."
While in Los Angeles visiting
DeMarr Johnson of the Atlanta
Hawks, a hometown friend, Robinson
felt sharp pains in his left side, with

nagging headaches and a frustrating
inability to become active turning his
vacation into a nightmare.
"I had to fly back home to Washing-
ton, D.C. and called my mother and
asked her to take care of me," a hum-
bled Robinson said. "It was a very low
Michigan's co-MVP from the year
before, an outstanding slasher with a
knack for scoring was bed-stricken
and depleted. The player that new
coach Tommy Amaker labeled "vital
to the team's success" could only play
one pickup game all summer. He
dropped nearly 30 pounds and then
gained it all back the wrong way due
to his prolonged inactivity and his
mother's cooking.
Robinson took the time to do some
soul searching. He re-evaluated in his


Michigan's one-two punch
Bernord Robinson
Year: Sophomore
Weight: 185
Pts: 14.4
Reb: 4.9
Robinson uses quick-
ness and slashing abili-
ry to tear up defenses.
LoVell Blanchord
Year: Junior
Height: 6-foot-7
Pts: 17.8
" Reb: 8.4
One of best rebound-
ers in Big Ten. Can step
out and nail a 3-point-
er when needed.
There was definitely a reason why Lovell Blanchard and Bernard Robinson
were named Michigan's co-MVP's last season, as they created most of the
Wolverines' offense-and energy.
But both superstars admit that their relationship wasn't there, which inhibited
their potential on the court. Robinson said that both are talking more, and
are ready to bring Michigan back to where it should be - on top.

mind a roller-coaster freshman season,
Michigan's 10-19 finish, its worse in
19 years. What started off as impres-
sive accomplishments on the court led
to "stupid" offcourt antics and his
realization that he didn't take the time
to know his teammates. Brian Ellerbe,
the coach who recruited him, was
fired, but his successor made an
impression on an ailing
Robinson that he'd never "I'll probal
forget. have thoug
Amaker took a break I'm definit
from his summer recruit- going to pi
ing to fly down to Wash- of the pict
ington D.C. and visit his
fallen star - whether - Bernardt
Robinson wanted him to on entering t
or not..
"I flew all the way
there and he didn't want me to see
him like that," Amaker said. "In the
fact that he was sick and lost weight,
and the things he was going through
and I said 'I don't give a damn - I'm
coming anyways.' "
Amaker's thoughtful and sincere act
of concern delightfully surprised
Robinson, who connected with his
new coach right away.
"With me having mono, I think the
average coach would try to rush me
back," Robinson said. "But he was
understanding and was just taking
care of me - and that's what I liked.
"He showed me love, and I was
very appreciative."
Robinson not only realized that he
had a coach he could trust, but also
how much he had taken the game of
basketball for granted. He wasn't
going to let it happen again.
While the illness allowed him to
participate in just 25 percent of Michi-
gan's drills in September, Robinson
has come along and gained most of
his strength and wind back, along with
a new outlook on what is expected to
be a breakout season.
"Bernard's role is huge," said senior
co-captain Chris Young. "He has to
come out every night and play well for




Hart and Whitney


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