The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - February 11, 1991 - Page 3
The controversial, yet colorful guru
comments on his life in basketball
,ABC basketball analyst Jim
Valvano coached at N.C. State for
16 years before his heated depar-
ire last year. He captured an
NCAA Championship in 1983, but
left the Wolfpack helm after an
NCAA investigation discredited the
basketball program. Daily Sports
Editor Jeff Sheran spoke with Val-
vdno about his life in basketball,
past and present.
Daily: Now that you are an ana-
lyst, do you sometimes feel you
ave to be coaching to stay in the
e, or does analyzing do it for
Valvano: I think that the 23
years of experience that I have on
the bench is what I hope I can
draw on. I try to first and foremost
explain the game, or at least what
might be going through the coach's
mind, and what the situations are,
and things of that nature. In order
do that, I still feel that in great
easure that I'm coaching in a
sense, and I still prepare as if I
wore a coach. I go to practice, I
witch game films, and I try to talk
to the coach and the players and
see what their thoughts are. The
only difference is, I don't win or
D: Is that in a sense better that
cu are able to second guess with-
t feeling the repercussions of
V: (Laughter) I try hard not to
second guess. I try to just explain
th; options that are available and
what a coach might be thinking. I
just try to explain what is going
through a coach's mind as opposed
to second guessing. Afterwards, we
just look at why something
wrked, or why it didn't work.
D: I would like to talk a little
about your departure from coach-
D: You left N.C. State under
same heated circumstances. What
are your feelings about leaving? I
guess you could run the gamut of
emotions - maybe a little embit-
tered, maybe remorseful. Are you
*lad to be out of Raleigh?
V: None of the above that you
said is true. I am not a bitter per-
son. This is a very unfulfilling, un-
rewarding, and unproductive emo-
tion. Certainly, it wasn't under the
circumstances I would have pre-
ferred. But when I look back over
the ten years I was there, I really
liad eight and a half wonderful
years. I served the University not
Only as the basketball coach, but
also as the athletic director. I have
two children that still go to N.C.
State. I have many, many friends
still there, and I still live in Cary,
which is right outside of Raleigh.
There were many disappoint-
ments, but the one which is the
most disappointing is how (the in-
cident) was so misconstrued by
geople who don't know really what
appened, and it is impossible to
explain to everyone exactly what
did take place. But suffice it to
say, I and my staff at least are
comfortable with the fact that we
were not involved in any wrongdo-
ing or rules violation, and that was
made clear by the NCAA in every
single body that investigated any-
thing. It would be nice if people
would understand that, but I also
nderstand the situation and how
some things are reported and seen,
so you just move forward.
D: It seemed, and you tell me if
this is fair, that maybe your
biggest flaw in handling the situa-
tion was that you were too human-
istic. You gave some of the wrong
people too much slack, you al-
lowed them to...
V: No, I don't think so at all. I
think the biggest problem that we
have in athletics today in this re-
gard is holding the coach responsi-
ble for everything. I think it is un-
realistic, I think it is something for
which we have a knee-jerk reac-
tion. If something goes wrong in a
program you immediately say it's
the coach's fault, and that's not
always true. I disagree with that
I've got three children. I wish I
could say that I knew everything
that my children do at all times.
That is not the case. You pick up
the paper everyday and you're go-
ing to see an instance of some-
thing happening in any large group
or organization, or even a family,
where it is not the behavior you
would want or expect. But I think
it becomes rather easy for people
to assign blame, which is what
people like to do. And it's wrong.
It's as simple as that, it's wrong.
D: If I'm not mistaken, the stu-
dent newspaper The Guardian ran
an editorial calling for your depar-
ture. On the other hand, some of
your players, like (N.C. State
guard Chris) Corciani, really stuck
'I and my staff at
least are comfortable
with the fact that we
were not involved in
any wrongdoing or
rules violation, and
that was made clear
by the NCAA in every
single body that
It would be nice if
understand that, but I
also understand the
situation and how
some things are
reported and seen, so
you just move
decision of what you're going to do
when tough times come. It's going
to come in your life and every-
body's life. So I look back on it
and try to learn from it, become
wiser and stronger and go forward.
D: The Raleigh papers are the
ones that started all the talk about
the problems about N.C. State, like
the papers in Lexington and Syra-
cuse started the talk about their
basketball teams. In reality, any
local paper could find something
wrong with a basketball program.
Even The Michigan Daily could
probably go nitpicking for Michi-
gan. Is that fair? Do you find an
unholy alliance between these
V: No, I think that as you go
through college sports, there's go-
ing to be issues which arise and
should be studied and questioned.
It just so happens that right now,
we are very much into reform of
college athletics. And I think that's
a good thing. Unfortunately, there
is sometimes an overreaction when
there are some things which may
not be on the level, so to speak. I
guess I didn't know that this is
what we were going to talk about. I
wish you had told me before hand
that this was going to be the thrust
of your article. I've gone through
D: I don't mean to harp on this,
but it is just really interesting and
I'm sure a lot of people have a lot
that they don't know about it. So
maybe we can just shed some light
V: Again, what I've been say-
ing is that you probably don't know
what happened at N.C. State. I'd
say most of the people don't know
what happened at N.C. State. You
talk about violations. Are you
aware of what took place? No. Are
you aware that there were no ma-
jor infractions? Do you realize that
the punishment was strictly that
(N.C. State) couldn't play in that
particular year's tournament. In
fact, the NCAA in its announce-
ment afterwards, made it very
-clear that this case was unique in
the sense that there were no, by
the definition of its own rules, ma-
jor rules violations. There was no
competitive advantage gain, there
were no coaches involved. It was
their overall category of lack of in-
stitutional control. Their own pun-
ishment fit the particular crime.
But what happens in today's
world is that if you do have a prob-
lem, there is tremendous coverage
right now in that area. As I've said
before, when you are the executive
in charge, you accept the respon-
sibility. I do accept responsibility,
but being held accountable for it,
which any executive can under-
stand, and being culpable for it are
The problems that were there
were minor and fixed in terms of
tickets and basketball shoes, and
that's really what it was. The aca-
demic issues are issues which are
very important throughout the
country and especially at state
D: Michigan is a school close
to Detroit, a city with tremendous
basketball talent. I guess Michigan
and Michigan State really do
much of the competing for the tal-
ent in the Michigan areas. What
was it like recruiting in the
that is the kind of the program they
have always been.
North Carolina in some sense is
also that way. Their roster this
year, I don't believe has a player
from North Carolina on its team.
North Carolina State needed to get
the players from the state to com-
pete at the national level, and yet
also we were successful in recruit-
ing players from other parts of the
country. It might be a kid who I
had a relationship with, or one who
wanted to come to the A.C.C.
For example, the backcourt
there now - it's a great backcourt
of Corciani and (Rodney) Monroe.
Chris is from Florida and Rodney's
from Maryland. But it's still going
to be more of an East Coast type
of recruiting school. But when a
kid who's a great player in the
State of North Carolina, the battle
is going to be between North Car-
olina, North Carolina State, and
Wake Forest is in there, but we
felt we had to be very strong in our
own state, and that's really where
we focused on first was the players
in the state. We got some kids
there who maybe weren't the best
players coming out of the state,
but developed. A kid like Chuckie
Brown, who's now with Cleveland,
was one of those kinds of kids.
D: Do you think that most
schools have to do it that way?
V: Yeah, I do. I think that most
schools would prefer if they could
to get the best players in their
state, but the competition is so
stiff, that sometimes you have to
look elsewhere. A lot of the
schools who want to look else-
where can't. They don't have that
kind of a program where a kid's
going to leave his own area where
his friends and family can see him
play and go to another area. Re-
cruiting is an inexact science.
Raleigh-Durham area with the
three powerhouses (Duke, North
Carolina, N.C. State) right there?
V: I think that Duke is more of
a national recruiting school than a
North Carolina school. They are
not a state university, and their re-
cruiting base is the whole country.
If you look at their roster, gener-
ally speaking, it is a roster filled
with players from everywhere,
from east, west, midwest - that
really is how they recruit. And you
do have to battle Duke in the state
also, but their base is really much
D: Is that dangerous? I know
Bill Frieder has been running into
some problems at Arizona State
because there is little Arizona tal-
ent. He has had to go national.
V: Duke doesn't do it because
there isn't North Carolina talent.
It's because Duke is one of the
premier basketball schools in the
country and is able to do it. They
can go and attract Cherokee Parks
from California to come to Duke,
and Johnny Dawkins from D.C. So
'When I look back
over the ten years I
was there, I really had
eight and a half
Writer turns in pen for
NBA basketball career
All right, so I changed a little bit, what's the big deal?
That picture above me is my new look. The name is my new name.
Out with Mike. In with Kendall.
I'm about to graduate in just a few months. And before this change,
I hadn't had a job lined up. I had considered getting a good desk job. I
had considered entering journalism. Maybe sports journalism. Then I
saw Jack Morris turn down over nine million dollars. I saw Magic
Johnson cut his salary so the Lakers could sign another player, and I
would have been content with the amount he cut. I decided I didn't
want sports journalism, I wanted simply sports. Therefore, the new me.
You see, journalism just doesn't pay well enough. Before I went
through this change, I bought all the attire needed to be a proper
reporter. I got the long overcoat. I got the nice hat to tilt over my head
with a card saying "Press" on it. I got an old typewriter and a bottle of
vodka. I rented an old office with a calendar on the wall and mice on
I walked into a local newspaper. They were impressed by these
looks. "I want a job," I said. They said sure. I was in heaven. They
said, "Stand on the corner of State Street and Liberty and write a
story if anything happens."
So I stood there, kinda hiding like good reporters do in the movies.
I interviewed Shaky Jake while he tried to tune his guitar. I noted that
the route 14 bus was two minutes late. I went to write the story. "Did
something happen," they asked. I told them no, but I had an
interesting story anyway. "Did anyone get killed?" they asked. I told
them no. They told me I don't get paid until something happens. They
said keep standing there.
I did it for a week. No pay. Then I contemplated this drastic
So I make this change (which I will explain later) and walk into an
NBA office with my Reebok pumps, my Adidas sweats, and my Nike
jacket. I wear a Super Dave hat. "I need a job," and they practically
say, "Sign here." They stick a contract with tons of zeros, and a one
in front of them all. Not a bad career choice.
Dare I tell them that I have bad
knees, shoot granny style free
throws and run like James Garner.
The man who played Jim Rock-
ford is my favorite actor, but he
can't run a lick. Then I meet the
coach, who wants to see his latest
prodigy. "What are your qualifi-
cations, son?" he asked. k
It takes a good long time to
think of this one. Then a light bulb
turns on. I remember a few sum-
mers ago. At a friend's house in
Detroit, some ofmyhigh school
friends were playing a game of
basketball in his back yard. I'm 6-foot-3, the second tallest of the
group. So I had to guard the tallest - none other than Freddie Hunter,
who was simply Fred at our high school. And one time, I got the
rebound over him.
Now, I can picture Steve Fisher reading this and thinking, "Wow,
if he can outrebound Freddie, he might be a gift from heaven."
Hold the phone. Save the quarter, Steve. I've gone pro.
I told my new coach this. I didn't tell him it was the only time I got
the rebound and it was because Fred was tying his shoe. Nonetheless
he was impressed. Then I faked a back spasm and got put on injured
reserve. The bucks keep coming, though.
Now, you're probably confused. And wondering why I changed my
name, not to mention my color. Let me explain both.
First, the name. Michael is the most common name in America.
And it already has been pretty well licensed out in the NBA by a man
named Jordan. I need something to set me out from a crowd. Akeem
was taken. So was Dominique. So was Fat.
Then, it struck. Every time I run into Michigan tight end Dave
Diebolt on the street, he smiles and says "Hey Kendall" to me. He
introduces others by saying, "And this is Kendall, Kendall Gill." I've
told him it's Mike, but he never gets it straight. Now, I consider it
So let it be Kendall. And credit Dave (who we will now call
Rocket Moses for marketing purposes) an assist.
And finally, the color. Pretty drastic you may say. "Why?" is
another question you may ask. Psychologists tell clients who are going
through a difficult change in their life to do something about their
physical appearance to make them feel good. Some go on a diet.
Others have a nose job. Others get their hair permed.
Making a career change is something I felt required a new outlook,
a new way of seeing myself. So I got a color change.
And I like it.
It's all been pretty good so far. I still might write this column a
little while longer in case any newspaper comes up with a bigger
offer. But for now, the NBA is pretty good. Seriously.
Keep in touch. And read my stats. Watch me on TV. I play for the
Charlotte Hornets. Look in the boxscore under Gill., and read about
me in the paper.
Get it straight - Kendall Gill. And I'm of no relation to Todd Gill
of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before or after this change.
Mike Gill will be Ken Kal's special guest this Saturday during the
second period intermission of the Michigan-Michigan State hockey
game on WPZA (1050).
V: It wasn't just my players.
There was a rally on campus (in
support of me) with 40,000 people.
I have a great many friends and a
great deal of support there. What
can I say? It's in the past. I don't
live in the past. Hopefully, you
grow wiser and stronger.
Adversity in anybody's life,
whether it's a basketball team or a
business or your own personal life,
is going to do one or two things:
it's either going to tear you apart,
or it's going to bring you together.
In my case, it brought together an
awful lot of people who are close
to me, and it makes you stronger.
So you have to make that
Michigan rifle team takes
its best shots in
by Chris Carr
-Time to play Final Jeopardy. Answer:
AUniversity of Michigan team which has
kn seven consecutive league champi-
oriships and only lost once in the past
Pretty easy one to get, right? A team
with this type of history probably receives
tremendous recognition around campus.
W ell, not really. The question should read:
"Wrho is the University of Michigan Rifle
"It is not a sport that people come and
witch," said Don Shankland who runs the
Ain Arbor Rifle Range where the Wolver-
ond place finish to EMU in last year's
league meet, the only time a league team
has outpointed the riflers in the last seven
in the league meet at the Ann Arbor Rifle
Range. They were lead by Ric Pastor with
543 points (out of a possible 600), Philip
Kuo (510), Carol Dunlap (487) and Nic
Volpicelli (485). Eastern finished second
in the meet. Other teams to compete were
Toledo, Central Michigan, Western
Michigan, and Howe Mil-itary Academy.
The key to winning is concentration.
Firing 60 shots from three positions over
the span of 90 minutes requires an ex-
tremely high level of mental discipline.
"I would have to say that it is about 90
to 95% mental," said Amy Dennis, an as-
sistant coach for the Wolverines and a
r- - -_ _L_ . - .,,. -4 «T
usually find a way to beat Eastern, Michi-
gan is still at a disadvantage. Eastern has
varsity sport recognition from their admin-
istration which makes a world of differen-
cein terms of competition and funding.
"It definitely helps that we have varsity
sport recognition," said Major Charles
Sraw, an assistant coach for EMU. "We
are well-supported (by the university), and
can face top competition like Ohio State,
West Point and Alaska."
Michigan, for now, can really only
compete as a team against other league
teams and cannot go to any regional or na-
tional collegiate meets like the one East-
to start the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry in
marksmanship, they remain content in
fielding a team which works hard, im-
proves and maintains a high level of com-
"It is worth it to see a person learn how
to shoot and improve, said Sergeant-Major
Oliver Bolar, the head active duty advisor
to the team. "All of the kids I work with
are just outstanding, and it makes my day
to see them improve. It is better than the
Benefit enough for most of the riflers
should come from being around Don
Shankland who Bolar describes as the nu
'It is worth it to see a
person learn how to shoot
and improve, All of the
kids I work with are just
outstanding, and it makes
my day to see them