The Wolverine

February 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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example, were very skilled and won back-to-back outright Big Ten titles, even though they never made it out of the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 1989 national champions, meanwhile, might have underachieved in the regular season, but when it came time to dance, they were all in step. Former Michigan big man Mark Hughes, now the director of scouting for the NBA's New York Knicks and a member of both the '86 and '89 teams, said the chemistry on the national championship team was better. "We arguably had more talent my freshman year," Hughes said. "That was a talented group with Roy Tarpley, Antoine Joubert, Gary Grant, Butch Wade, Robert Henderson and those guys, with a young Glen Rice coming off the bench. But as chemistry goes, what we were able to accomplish with our backs against the wall in 1989 is something that will always stand out for me. "It was a situation where we had to be there for each other or we were going to lose. The coming together among that group of guys was terrific. "We played well during the season, even though we dropped a game or two we shouldn't have, but we knew we were talented enough to win it all." When head coach Bill Frieder accepted the Arizona State job before the NCAA Tournament, athletics director Bo Schembechler replaced him with assistant Steve Fisher, while teammates rallied around each other. "When that happened, with Fish taking that job, it was like, 'Nobody believes in us,'" Hughes recalled. "The guys in that room decided to go out and play as hard as we could for each other. We did that." Their NCAA title banner remains the only one hanging from the Crisler Center rafters. Hughes, though, paused when asked if that was what separated his group from the rest — then he laughed, noting he'd "let the trophy speak for itself." At the same, time, he said, greats such as Rickey Green (1977), Phil Hubbard (1978), Mike McGee (1979), the Fab Five and others deserved credit for their accomplishments, as well. Former guard Dugan Fife, a reserve for the 1992-93 national runners-up, was a young teen when the '89 squad won it all, but even he said that's where you have to start the discussion. "They were able to finish," Fife said. "Our 1992-93 team, I don't know if there's ever been a team as talented from top to bottom, bringing guys like James Voskuil, Eric Riley, Rob Pelinka and Michael Talley off the bench to go with Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard and Jimmy King — four guys in the NBA, three who started, and Ray Jackson, who was close." He caught himself, though, when he listed off Loy Vaught, Terry Mills, Rumeal Robinson and Glen Rice from the '89 team. Future pro Sean Higgins, a sophomore at the time, came off the bench for that group and was a key player in the squad's tournament run. Former Wolverine and pro (class of

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