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Scouting Reports 4 MICHIGAN Don't worry, coach, your Wolverines are loaded

Nov. 16, 1988
Nov. 16, 1988

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Nov. 16, 1988

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Scouting Reports 4 MICHIGAN Don't worry, coach, your Wolverines are loaded

WHEN BILL FRIEDER PLAYS BLACKJACK, HE counts cards -- counts them
so well, in fact, that he has been asked to leave some of the tables
in Las Vegas. And when he coaches his Michigan Wolverines, he's an
insomniac who pores over film so obsessively that little is left to
chance. (And just so it's clear what kind of film we're talking about
here, let it be known that the last movie Frieder went to was The
Godfather, in 1972.)
For the past four seasons, detail-man Frieder entrusted control of
his team to All-America guard Gary Grant. But now Grant is gone to
the NBA, and even though Frieder has his eight other top players back
from last season -- including Glen Rice, his leading scorer and
rebounder -- he's moaning about Grant's departure.
He shouldn't. There's little question that Rumeal Robinson, a 6
ft. 2 in. junior who spent much of the summer holding his own in the
Celtics' rookie camp, can lead Michigan. But Frieder needs to
determine who will be paired with Robinson in the backcourt. Being 6
ft. 8 in. and from L.A., sophomore Sean Higgins thinks he can step in
and, like Magic, do the job. But Frieder * isn't yet sold on Higgins,
whose first semester grades prevented him from playing most of last
season and who will have to tone down his showy one-on- one moves.
Says Frieder, ''When he tries those things, he's now going to be
told, 'No, Sean.' In the Big Ten, people are going to make you give
the ball up.''
The front line features junior Terry Mills, the Wolverines' 6 ft.
10 in. power forward, whose fluctuating weight (from 230 to as much
as 245 last season) would have Frieder losing sleep if he ever got
any to lose. Says the fretful Frieder, ''Right now Terry Mills still
has to prove he's aggressive enough to be a Big Ten player.''
Rice speaks to a potentially more ominous problem: ''We've got
players who might want to step out and do too many things at once,''
he says. ''With all our talent, there's a chance of that happening.''
Robinson vows that it won't. ''I have to bring order to the team,''
he says. ''Everyone expects me to throw in 30 a game, because they
know I can. But you win by having a happy team.''
And a determined one. Robinson was stung by not getting even an
invitation to the Olympic trials; Iowa's B.J. Armstrong was one of
Olympic coach John Thompson's last cuts, and Robinson is eager to
face him ''so we can settle all this. I'm taking no prisoners this
year. We're all a little older, a little hungrier. This is the year
we should win it.''
But any raised expectations just bring more pressure to bear on
Frieder. He's a favorite whipping boy of the clean-headed telepundits
for having won more games over the past four seasons than a certain
coach at Indiana, but having gone only 5-4 in the NCAA tournaments
during that time. ''Every day is a battle,'' says Frieder.
''Sometimes I feel like I'm 65 years old. I've seen us ranked from
first in the country to fifth in the Big Ten, and the scary thing is,
either one may be right.'' -- A.W.

This is an article from the Nov. 16, 1988 issue Original Layout