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October 30, 1995 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-30

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, October 30, 1995 - 3B


Queston & nswer




Basketball fanatic Dick Vitale talks about
coaching, announcing and loving basketball

White on Target
T ravis Roy 's
05. injury puts
sports world in
t was an innocent enough looking
hit. The same kind of check that is
thrown dozens of times in every
hockey game, every day.
The hit was nothing unusual for a
game like last Friday's between North
Dakota and Boston.
North Dakota's Mitch Vig grabbed
=the puck behind his own net and shot
it around the boards. As Vig unloaded
-the puck, he was hit by Terrier
-freshman Travis Roy.
V- ' Then the innocence was lost.
'Roy lost his balance and went
crashing into the boards, head first.
His body went limp, falling to the
ice like a sandbag.
In his first shift of his first college
hockey game, Travis Roy had broken
-his neck.
It was the kind of play that Roy had
been part of hundreds of times before,
-"but this time, instead of jarring an
"-opponent, he came out of it with a
fractured fourth vertebrae and
paralysis from the neck down.
.,As he lay Qn the ice, Roy told his
father that he knew he was in trouble;
he told him he couldn't move.
Roy underwent seven hours of
surgery Wednesday. The good news
was that his spinal cord wasn't
severed as doctors had first thought,
the bad news is that the same doctors
still have no idea whether Roy will
ever regain use of his arms and legs.
The outpouring of sympathy and
well wishes for Roy has been
tremendous, as it should be. It's
another of those sports stories that
captivates the nation.
It's one of those things that
reminds everyone there are more
portant things than wins and losses.
. first saw the replay of Roy's
njury on ESPN. The sound was
down, but you could tell exactly what
~had happened.
You could tell by the way he lay
heaped on the ice, motionless.
I grew up playing hockey; I've
been knocked head-first into the
boards before.
I broke my leg in a game once. It
was scary enough not being able to
move my foot, but I can't imagine not
, bing able to move anything.
I feel lucky I'm not in the same
ppsition Roy is.
But here's the thing: a lot of the
people who are hoping Roy gets
y better are the same people that would
be screaming at him if he had given
the puck up in his zone and cost
Boston a goal.
Some of them may have sat at a
game and yelled for someone to "take
opt" a player on another team.
We've all done it before; I'm as
guilty as the rest. This is the kind of
thing that snaps everything back into
The most important thing in this
story is Roy's health, not how the
Terriers play in their next game
without him.
It's too bad that it takes a broken
neck, or other tragedy, to remind us
of that, though.
Why should it be only the most
extreme injuries that cause us to
respond like this?

Normally, when a football player
blows out his knee, the first thing that
comes to mind is who will replace
him and how the team will do without
It just seems out of whack to me.
Shouldn't our first concern be for
the athlete?
An injury is an injury, some worse
than others, but it's nothing to be
Stories like Roy's come and go in
the sports world.
They happen, they are reported,
and then they are forgotten - until it
happens again.
Roy may never be able to walk
again, or he could make a full
recovery. No one knows at this point,
although the statistics point more
toward the former than the latter.
We take risks everyday by simply
getting in a car and driving down the

Dick Vitale is probably best known
for the enthusiastic approach that he
brings to his colorcommentary on ESPN
andABCcollege basketball broadcasts.
Vitale's love affair with basketball has
been forged not only through his role as
a commentator but through his experi-
encesas acollegeandprofessionalcoach,
motivational speaker and fan.
Before Vitale began his career in tele-
vision 16years ago, he was head coach at
the University of Detroit. While at De-
troit, Vitale directed the team to the 1977
NCAA tournament, where he lost to a
highly ranked Michigan squad. Vitale
made the jump to the NBA soon thereaf-
ter, when he took the head coachingposi-
tion for the Detroit Pistons. With no prior
professional coaching experience,
Vitale's career in the NBA was short-
lived. He was fired in November, 1979,
just 12 games into the season.
Today, Dick Vitale is also a motiva-
tional speaker. Vitale recounts his own
trials andtriumphs in the basketball world
to aspiring and promising youngsters.
Vitale candidly shares his thoughts
and feelings about the game he calls
"the greatest thing going" with Daily
Sports Writer Nancy Berger.
Daily: When you took the coaching
job for the Detroit Pistons, you had no
previous coaching experience in the
NBA. How did that affect your career,
and do you regret your decision to coach
Vitale: Well obviously I think it
would have been a lot better if I had the
chance to coach in the NBA. But I think
a lot of guys, you look at Pat Riley for'
example, he is one of the real superstars
in the coaching fraternity in the NBA.
He rolled out of the TV booth'and onto
the sideline and won a World Champi-
onship - with a little help from a guy
by the name of Magic Johnson, and
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Wor-
thy. On the NBA level, it is a player's
league versus a coach's league as col-
lege. College, coaches can dictate a lot
of tempo, they can dictate the status of
the team with the multiple defenses.
The NBA's 24-second clock, it is man-
to-man defense. The bottom line is that
the best talent is going to prevail be-
cause most of the guys all know the
game up on top. I think the big question

Vitale (right) with Steve Fisher.

outfit. I write about
it in my new book.
I dressed like them.
We were just little
kids down the road,
playing against the
majestic maize and
blue who had a su-
per team. They
were just unbeliev-
able. They were
No. 1 with Ricky
Green and Phil
Harbor, and my
kids were ready for
the challenge. I of-
ten said that I think
we cost Michigan a
national title. We
played them so
tough on that day,
even though we
lost, I think we took
so much out of
them emotionally
and physically that
they got beat like
36 hours later.
They got beat by
North Carolina-
Charlotte who went on to the Final Four
and then Marquette won the National
title. Michigan to me, on paper, was the
better team than the Marquette team
that year.
D: You are the ultimate advocate of
college basketball, you have said that it
is the greatest game due to the students,
pageantry, etc.... What do you see as
the most urgent problem facing college
V: Well, like I said in my book, I have
so many stories in there about the frills
of the game and the positives of the
game. Basically the situation in college
comes down to a couple factors. Num-
ber one: I think the players today need
more than just room, board and books.
I think that they deserve some spending
money. They can't work during the
school year. Academically, an athlete
has so much pressure on them. It is a 12-
month ordeal. Coaches demand so much
of the kids. With the NCAA receiving
$1.7 billion from CBS, some of that
money should go to the kids. Number
two: I think the problem we have is that

there are too many kids in college ath-
letics today, both in football and bas-
ketball, who, one, don't want to be
there and, two, have not prepared them-
selves academically. I think that we
have to do a better job to make sure that
the kids who walk on the college cam-
pus have taken the necessary courses in
algebra and algebra two, the core cur-
riculum, and have really prepared for
D: Which role do you relish most:
motivational speaker, coach or com-
V: I think that there is a correlation. I
have an absolute love for my job. I've
often said that if you combine these
three things, you will be successful. If
you have a passionate love for what you
are doing, a great work ethic and make
good decisions about drugs and alcohol
- if you have those three going for
you, a lot of beautiful things are going
to happen. I happened to have a job that
I just absolutely love. Who wouldn't
love it? I mean I sit on courtside for
Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina,
Duke, Kentucky, Arkansas and Ari-
zona. If my bosses only knew, I would
probably do it for nothing, but please
don't tell him that.
D: Recruiting is one of the toughest
aspects of a coach's job. Why do you
think that Steve Fisher has had so much
V: I think they're a hot school in
America. I think that kids really identi-
fied, especially with the Fab Five. I
thought that they started a real fad with
the baggy pants, with the black shoes,
the socks, the whole bit. Michigan brings
to the table a great combination aca-
demically and athletically. They have a
great national network of alumni. Let's
face it, it is one of the top schools in the
United States when you combine all
arenas. They have a lot of things going
for it. They do a great job of selling the
Big Ten, selling the fact that they play
in Crisler and what a game is and what
it means. I think with all of that, year in
and year out, they are going to be one of
the real, real schools right in the hunt
for all the superstar players.
D: What do you think about his cur-
rent freshmen recruits?
V: I think that they are outstanding. If

you look at Louis Bullock, he looks like
a guy who can answer the question for
them shooting the basketball. You look
at Traylor, I love "Tractor" Trayloi. I
just told a reporter about him. He is
agile, mobile and he is not fragile. He
has a great smile and he plays the game
hard. I had Traylor and White in the
Magic Johnson Roundball Classic. I
was really impressed. I didn't have
Bullock, but I saw him shoot a ball' in
one of the games on TV; he looks like
he can shoot it. They are going to be
very outstanding. They are going to
have a very good team.
D: What are your feelings on women's
basketball and how it has evolved in the
past years?
V: I am happy for women's athletics.
In general form, being what it is, I am
prejudiced in a way. I had two girls who
were on full scholarship at Notre Dame
for tennis. I love that the girls saved me
lots of cash. Title IX was great for them.
They got room, board, books, tuition, full
scholarships, and they deserve it. They
deserve what the guy receives. I think
women's basketball is getting better and
better, and the coaching is getting better.
The women that play are much more
skilled than they used to be, and I think
that they will continue to improve. The
visibility and the exposure that they are
going to get on ESPN is even going'to
help them more. There are going to be
more young ladies starting out at a young
age who want to be a part of that environ-
ment, whose dads are taking them to the
playgrounds, taking them at a young age
to maybe make something happen in their
life athletically, to be in a position to
receive grants somewhere across
D: What is March Madness like from
your point of view?
V: It is the best, I absolutely go ba-
nanas. It is so special to see people
cutting the nets down. It is an exciting
time to see the enthusiasm on campuses
all over. It is a time of year when every-
body seems to be rejuvenated, even the
people who don't follow basketball all
year. With college basketball the 9x-
plosion has become unreal. I am so
happy to be a little spoke in the wheel
and to be part of it all because it is such
an exciting time.

in the NBA is you need the superstar
talent. You are not winning without it.
D: Do you regret your decision to
jump right into the NBA?
V: Oh, no I don't regret it all. I never
look back on decisions that I make and
say: Wow, I regret this. I wish it could
have turned out a lot better. I wish I
could have had more success, but if you
would have told me at the time that
television would have been what it is
for me, and now I got my fifth book out,
"Holding Court". Things have happened
in my life; I pinch myself. It never
would have happened if I didn't get
fired. So I thank the Pistons in a way for
firing me, and I thank that moment.
D: The last game you had ever
coached at the University of Detroit
was against the University of Michigan
in the NCAA tournament. What do you
remember the most about playing
V: Oh, I remember that they had a
great team. They were No. 1 in the
nation. I rememberthe fact that I walked
in that night with a maize and blue

Wisconsin takes women's cross country title

By Nancy Berger
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's cross country
team was seeing red this past Saturday at
the Big Ten Championships in Minne-
The red the Wolverines were seeing
was not part of the various colors of the
fall foliage, nor was it the rosy cheeks of
the competing runners.
The only red Michigan was seeing was
the color ofthe Wisconsin shirts that were
finishing ahead ofthem on the Les Bolstad
Cross Country Course.
Wisconsin took over the reign as Big
Ten champion with a score of 37 points.
Michigan narrowly finished second with
65, four points ahead of Penn State.
"We look for Wisconsin colors and try
to stick with them," senior Mayrie
Richards said.
Michigan could not stick with
Wisconsin's Kathy Butler. Last year's
runner-up captured the individual title.
The Badger's next three runners all came

in ahead of Michigan's first runner. -
Freshman Katie McGregor came in
first for Michigan and placed eighth over-
all with the time of 17:59. McGregor's
performance merited her Big Ten Fresh-
man of the Year, as she was the first
freshman in the field to finish.
"Kelly Chard and I were running to-
gether with two Wisconsin girls, but Wis-
consin beat us with one kilometer to go,"
McGregor said.
Both Chard and McGregor ran their
best races of the year, with Chard finish-
ing two seconds behind her running mate
for ninth place.
Sophomore Michelle Slater, a redshirt
freshman, came in 12th in 18:10. Trailing
seven seconds behind was senior Katy
Hollbacher in 17th place. Rounding out
the top five Michigan runners was senior
Courtney Babcock who finished 19th in
Babcock, running in herfirstmeet since
Boston College, had been sidelined with
a back injury.

"I have only been training for a week;
I didn't know what to expect," Babcock
Coach Mike McGuire was happy with
how Babcock performed under the cir-
cumstances. Not only did Babcock con-
tend with herback injury but also with the
torrid running conditions.
"The course was very muddy and the
downhill was very slippery; that was the
worst conditions I have ever run in,"
Babcock said. "We had to take the turns
McGuire also saw the course as a bit of
an obstacle.
"That was as tough of a scenario as you
are going to get," McGuire said.
"(Babcock) would have placed higher on
a different type of course, but most im-
portant is that she isn't hurting anymore."
Sophomore Eileen Fleck led the group
that finished behind Babcock. Jen Stuht,
Jennifer Barber and Mayrie Richards all
placed behind Fleck.
Even though Michigan was unable to

beat the Badgers, it was important that
they beat Penn State for two reasons. The
first is that Michigan will be ranked ahead
of Penn State in the polls, and the second
is that Penn State is the only Big Ten team
not in regionals.
Michigan's performance at Big Ten's

will be important when they compete in
the NCAA District Five meet in two
weeks. The top two teams in each district
will go to Nationals. If Michigan is un-
able to place in the top two, they will
automatically get an NCAA berth any-
way because they beat Penn State.

. 1




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