By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
Quite fitting it was that a great decade of championship games closed with the NCAA's first final in 26 years to reach overtime, where Michigan's Rumeal Robinson sank two free throws with three seconds left to turn a one-point deficit into an 80-79 victory over Seton Hall.
This game for some reason gets lost in the shuffle of the sport's great championship events. Perhaps it's because the side stories are the ones that endure more than the end result.
Particularly the one about Steve Fisher, the loyal assistant under Bill Frieder until Frieder told Michigan AD Bo Schembechler he was leaving to take the Arizona State job after the season. Schembechler, the legendary football coach at the legendary
football school, incorporated some legendary football logic when he famously said, "A Michigan man will coach Michigan." Frieder was fired and Fisher took over the Wolverines the day before the tournament started.
Or maybe it was the one about Glen Rice, whose 184 points (30.7 per game) in Fisher's first six games as head coach -- all tournament wins -- still stand
as the most in an NCAA Tournament. Rice scored 31 points in the final, slightly outdone by Seton Hall's John Morton, who finished with 35 of his own. But it was Rice who celebrated like a king that night in Seattle.
Perhaps it's just as likely the sidebar we best recall is the one about Robinson, typically a poor foul shooter, who shouldn't even have been at the line in the first place, according to some.
Driving through the lane, presumably preparing to pass, Robinson's defender, an old playground buddy named Gerald Greene, was called for a questionable hand-check foul. Michigan's point guard, shooting 64 percent from the line, knocked down both foul shots to give the Wolverines the victory, making the brand new coach look like a great one. It was only two years later that Fisher would sign the greatest freshmen class ever. The Fab Five, headlined by Chris Webber and Jalen Rose, would lead Michigan back to the NCAA title game in 1992 and 1993, but would lose to ACC powers Duke and North Carolina, and after that, the Wolverines went back to being a football school.
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