Back to the Future - Part II Michigan Basketball 2013

Submitted by mGrowOld on January 31st, 2013 at 1:13 PM



Back Row: asst. coach Bill Frieder, coach John Orr, Mark Lozier, David Baxter, Rickey Green, David Stavale, Thomas Staton, William Lelich, asst. coach Jim Boyce, asst. coach Dan Fife

Front Row: mngr. Mitchell Kaufman, Len Lillard, Alan Hardy, co-captain Steve Grote, co-captain John Robinson, Joel Thompson, Robert Jones. mngr. John Anderson

A lot has been made recently about this being the first Michigan basketball team to reach #1 in the standings since the 92/93 Fab Five squad  Interestingly enough the National Championship winning 1989 team never reached #1 until the last game of the season so it hasn't been done that often.  There was another Michigan team however, a few years further back, that started the season as #1, stayed at #1 through the first six weeks of the season, and ultimately ended the regular season ranked #1.  Having lost in the National Final in 1976, this team entered the tournament as the overall #1 seed as Big Ten Champs with an overall record of 26-3.  Sadly  they were knocked out of the tournament in the third round (back then that game was the Regional Final) by the Cornbread Maxwell led Charlotte 49ers, this is the Michigan team I think our present squad most resembles.

In 1977 Michigan was led by All-American point guard Rickey Green.  Nicknamed "Quicksilver", Green was easily the fastest player with the ball I have ever seen. A fantastic on the ball defender, Green was able to get to the rim against most teams and had a decent (but not great) outside shot.  Remember, this was 1977 so the three point line as well as the shot clock were still several years away.  Rumors abound that Green suffered an undisclosed injury before the Charlotte game that limited his effectiveness but that has never been made public officially.  If you ever saw Green play you could easily compare his game to Burke's although I think Burke is a better shooter, Rickey was a better defender IMO.

Anchoring the inside of that team was the immortal Phil Hubbard.  Hubbard was also an All-American in 1977 and was a Kevin Love "double-double" machine before the term was made popular.  While the current team doesn't have a player on the inside close to Phil's ability his style of play would remind many of our Morgan.  Phil was athletic (this was the year before his catastrophic knee injury) and moved without the ball a lot.  He was likewise a terrific defender and tenacious rebounder averaging over 13 boards and 20 points per game.

Filling out the starters were Tom Staton, Steve Grote and Team Captain John Robinson. Grote was Zack Novak before Zack Novak and could be considered the Godfather of Grit.  Yes I know Novak has moved on but his presence still looms large on this year's team.  Staton was your defensive specialist (think of him like the defensive version of Stauskus) and Robinson did whatever was needed on both ends of the floor.  Coming off the bench was my personal all-time favorite Wolverine Alan Hardy (when I was Freshmen in 1978 rumor had it he was able to jump and touch the top of the backboard) and Dave "instant offensive" Baxter.  Most people remember Baxter not for his shot but for his hair which was long and definitely interesting to watch.  Note: I think the team picture I got was taken at the beginning of the year and Baxter probably didn't cut it the rest of the season cause I can tell you by March his hair was a LOT longer than Green's was.

Coached by Johnny Orr who kinda looks like coach Beilein that team had their own Bacari Alexander in Assistant Coach Bill Frieder.  Many at the time thought Frieder was the "real" Head Coach on the time and Orr was simply a figurehead.  Frieder would go on to take over duties officially from Orr upon his retirement just a few years later.  And at the very far right of the first row picture is a Fraternity Brother of mine who was the team manager!

The ranking, the depth, the style of play of the 2013 Michigan Basketball team all remind me a lot of this group from 36 years ago.  So the next time the announcers reference the 1992-93 team as the "last Michigan team to reach #1" remember that they weren't the ONLY group to reach #1 during the regular season - just the most recent.

EDIT: I do not mean to imply that Coach Beilein is a figurehead and that Alexander is doing the "real" coaching.  The point I was trying to make was both teams had colorful and well-known assistants.  Each in their own way.  I probably should've said both assistants used props.  Alexander's vary game to game while Frieder favored a towel.








January 31st, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

This was nice that you reminded people of the history but other than Ricky Green, you basically state this team did not compare.   Still a nice post, but you compared Grote to Novak who doesn't play on the team anymore and I don't think anyne thinks Beilien is just a figure head and Bacari's running the team.

That was the 1st team I really remember.   Hubbard I think was more like GR3.   He had an inside/out game and was way more skilled then Morgan is.


January 31st, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

You are probably right on the Hubbard to GRIII comparison being more valid.  On the assistants I was just trying to point out that both teams had a colorful and well known assistant coach - if I implied that Bacari was coaching the team that was certainly not my intent.  And Grote I just had to mention cause SO much was written both last year and even this year about his "Grit" and the influence it's had on this group.  I just wanted people to remember Novak wasn't the first Michigan bball player with grit, just the latest.

But thanks for the feedback - all good points on your part.

Naked Bootlegger

January 31st, 2013 at 1:35 PM ^

The '77 team was *just* before my first real memories of Michigan basketball (the early 80's teams with McGee and Turner were in my formative basketball-watching years).   I sure wish they would have brought home the '77 title, especially after coming so close in '76.  

The OP states that Johnny Orr "retired" from Michigan.  Didn't he move to Iowa State in 1980 immediately after coaching UM?   Was it on his own volition?   It just doesn't seem like sensible lateral coaching move at that stage of his career.


EDIT:  From wikipedia:


When Orr learned how much Iowa State was willing to pay Frieder, Orr negotiated the job for himself (Frieder then succeeded Orr at Michigan).




January 31st, 2013 at 1:41 PM ^

...his head over Frieder's decision to abandon his high performing Michigan team for ASU in 1989, it helps to recall that coaching salaries were not particularly high in that era, and they certainly weren't so at Michigan. Frieder royally screwed up his timing, but the relatively paltry salary structure in place then meant that what might seem like fairly insignificant raises were, in fact, significant.


January 31st, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

Um...I used the word "retired" in the nicest way possible.  Many, many people thought that Orr truly was little more than a titular figurehead to the program in the late 70's and that Freider was doing all the real coaching both in practice and in games.

Rumor had he was asked to find other employment by the Athletic Department.  So instead of saying "forced out" i went with "retired".


January 31st, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

Your post is an interesting one, but I don't get your equating Frieder with Bacari Alexander. And I especially don't like your implication that Beilein is a figurehead like you claim Orr was. Maybe that's not what you meant, but it certainly can be read that way.

Blue boy johnson

January 31st, 2013 at 2:04 PM ^

Johnny Orr did not retire and was not a figurehead. Orr left Michigan to coach Iowa State for more money and upset Michigan in the NCAA tournament with an Iowa State team featuring Jeff Hornacek

Orr joined the Iowa State Cyclones in 1980. The move came about when the Iowa State Athletic Director called him to inquire about Orr's assistant, Bill Frieder. When Orr learned how much Iowa State was willing to pay Frieder, Orr negotiated the job for himself (Frieder then succeeded Orr at Michigan). In Orr's fifth season in Ames, he led the Cyclones to their first NCAA Tournament berth in 40 years. The following season, Orr's Cyclones reached the Sweet Sixteen of the 1986 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament with a second round victory over the number five ranked team in the nation, Michigan

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UMass Minutemen (Yankee Conference) (1963–1966)
1963–1964 UMass 15–9 5–5 3rd  
1964–1965 UMass 13–11 8–2 2nd  
1965–1966 UMass 11–13 5–5 3rd  
UMass: 39–33 18–12  
Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten Conference) (1968–1980)
1968–1969 Michigan 13–11 7–7 4th  
1969–1970 Michigan 10–14 5–9 T-6th  
1970–1971 Michigan 19–7 12–2 2nd NIT Quarterfinals
1971–1972 Michigan 14–10 9–5 T-3rd  
1972–1973 Michigan 13–11 6–8 T-6th  
1973–1974 Michigan 22–5 12–2 T-1st NCAA Elite Eight
1974–1975 Michigan 19–8 12–6 2nd  
1975–1976 Michigan 25–7 14–4 2nd NCAA Runner-Up
1976–1977 Michigan 26–4 16–2 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1977–1978 Michigan 16–11 11–7 T-4th  
1978–1979 Michigan 15–12 8–10 6th  
1979–1980 Michigan 17–13 8–10 T-6th NIT 3rd Round
Michigan: 209–113 120–72  
Iowa State Cyclones (Big Eight Conference) (1980–1994)
1980–1981 Iowa State 9–18 2–12 8th  
1981–1982 Iowa State 10–17 5–9 6th  
1982–1983 Iowa State 13–15 5–9 5th  
1983–1984 Iowa State 16–13 6–8 T-4th NIT 1st Round
1984–1985 Iowa State 21–13 7–7 T-3rd NCAA 1st Round
1985–1986 Iowa State 22–11 9–5 2nd NCAA Sweet 16
1986–1987 Iowa State 13–15 5–9 6th  
1987–1988 Iowa State 20–12 6–8 5th NCAA 1st Round
1988–1989 Iowa State 17–12 7–7 T-4th NCAA 1st Round
1989–1990 Iowa State 10–18 4–10 6th  
1990–1991 Iowa State 12–19 6–8 5th  
1991–1992 Iowa State 21–13 5–9 T-6th NCAA 2nd Round
1992–1993 Iowa State 20–11 8–6 T-2nd NCAA 1st Round
1993–1994 Iowa State 14–13 4–10 T-6th  
Iowa State: 218–200 79–117


January 31st, 2013 at 2:13 PM ^

Gordie I respectfully disagree.  The statement you pulled from Wikipedia raises an interesting question:"Orr joined the Iowa State Cyclones in 1980. The move came about when the Iowa State Athletic Director called him to inquire about Orr's assistant, Bill Frieder. When Orr learned how much Iowa State was willing to pay Frieder, Orr negotiated the job for himself (Frieder then succeeded Orr at Michigan) 

So how did Orr know how much Michigan was willing to pay one of his assistants to become the HC BEFORE he had decided to move on?  IMO the answer is that the Canham, worried that Freider was about to take a HC job elsewhere, went to Bill and negotiated a deal on the DL.  Once Orr got wind of it and the amount THEN he formed his search committee of one and moved on.

But I will stand by my opinion that Orr did not leave on his own terms but rather because Canham had started the ball rolling by reaching out to Freider.


January 31st, 2013 at 2:23 PM ^

As I mentioned in the OP I had a fairly close connection to the team and what went on both during games and in practice on on the recruiting trail.  I'm not saying Orr wasn't a good coach but let's just say coach Orr circa 1977-78 wasnt quite as "engaged" as he may have been earlier in his career.  I'll leave it at that.

Naked Bootlegger

January 31st, 2013 at 6:39 PM ^

This whole Orr "retiring" stuff is just so completely interesting to me.  I'm so glad to learn a little more about this Michigan basketball era, so I really appreciate this thread.  I was always puzzled why Orr left for Iowa State after a great run at Michigan, but honestly hadn't given it much thought until now.   Frieder had a great Big 10 (not NCAA tourney) run at Michigan and left under similar circumstances as a boatload of $$$ from a program that largely lacked basketball history or prestige (although Frieder's timing to sign on with ASU was a bit...ahem...controversial).   


January 31st, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

Another good catch.  Here you go:


Back Row: asst. coach Bill Frieder, coach John Orr, Mark Lozier, David Baxter, Rickey Green, David Stavale, Thomas Staton, William Lelich, asst. coach Jim Boyce, asst. coach Dan Fife

Front Row: mngr. Mitchell Kaufman, Len Lillard, Alan Hardy, co-captain Steve Grote, co-captain John Robinson, Joel Thompson, Robert Jones. mngr. John Anderson

True Blue Grit

January 31st, 2013 at 1:52 PM ^

Thanks for posting the fond memories.  Although I was REALLY bummed out at the time when we lost to UNC Charlotte.  A few comments:

1.  Minor spelling correction - it was Tom Staton, not Stanton.  He was a big-time all state player from Ferndale over whom there was a pretty big recruiting battle before he committed to Michigan.

2.  Frieder was already a work-a-holic, especially on the recruiting trail.  But, Orr wasn't a figurehead IMO.  I'd say the mean reason Orr left was because of money.  Don Canham was notoriously cheap when it came to salaries.  That may have been a big factor  later on too when Frieder left for ASU.

3.  Hubbard was a very good athlete, but not up there with GRIII - again, my opinion.  Hubbard was quick and had a lot of low post moves that made him hard to handle.

4.  It's interesting how relatively small by today's standards this team was.  Hubbard was probably 6-7, Robinson 6-6, Hardy 6-6, and they got a lot shorter from there.  But defensively, they were excellent, even without Wayman Britt from the previous season.

5.  Green WAS really fast and fun to watch.  He was a junior college transfer as I remember, but not sure where he came from. 

Let's hope this years team can more than equal the team above's accomplishments. 


January 31st, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

I can still visualize Baxters hair bobbing up and down as he ran down the court.

Although Hubbard may have been only 6'7" he was under sized as a center even back then, but he played bigger than his height as they would say.  IIRC he was close to making the olympic team in 1976.


Der Alte

January 31st, 2013 at 2:03 PM ^

Johnny Orr was part of a search committee or maybe a one-man search committee to find a new coach for ISU. As has been stated, when he learned how much ISU was willing to pay he offered himself for the job and was hired. My recollection is he compiled a decent record there, making the tournment a few times.

Dilithium Wings

January 31st, 2013 at 2:14 PM ^

Nothing to do with this topic but I'm watching the Michigan vs NW replay on btn right now. Did anyone catch stauskas, after he hit a three to go up 15-9, say "I'm back"? The camera was on him while getting jogging back on defense.


January 31st, 2013 at 3:19 PM ^

Speaking of Back to the Future II, that movie is set only two years from now (2015).  Are they going to invent hoverboards in time?