The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW? back titles, they won them outright. They gained ground on perennial Big Ten power Indiana in Rellford's sophomore year and seemed primed to unseat the Hoosiers at the top of the conference before a stunning 87-62 home loss to the Hoosiers in the 1984-85 Big Ten opener cast some doubt. Legendary IU head coach Bob at the time, but Gary was a freshman and Antoine a sophomore. It didn't work out." Rellford lived his NBA dream for Knight unwittingly helped get the Wolverines back on track, Rellford recalled, when he visited U-M's locker room postgame. "He told us we gave them one of the best first halves they ever had. It upset us so much to where we de- cided, 'This ain't gonna happen,'" Rellford recalled. "We were hot about that … like we weren't that good, but only a first-half team. "All of a sudden Roy started play- ing, and we started feeling comfort- able because we knew he would take care of everything in the middle and we could take care of everything else." The 1984-85 Wolverines would Rellford recently started the marketing con- sulting firm Rellford and Thompson, which helps young athletes prepare for their futures. PHOTO COURTESY U-M PHOTO SERVICES lose only one more Big Ten game, an overtime setback at Illinois, be- fore ripping off 16 straight wins to capture the title. A year later, they repeated as champions with a 14-4 conference record, hammering the Hoosiers 80-52 in the Big Ten finale. Whatever magic they used in the conference disappeared in the post- season. Both teams struggled in all The Richard Rellford File Michigan Accomplishments: Four-year letterman, 1982-83 to 1985-86 … Three-year starter … Averaged 9.9 points and 3.9 rebounds in his career and scored 1,211 career points … Finished his career 13th on U-M's all-time scoring list … Shared Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player Award in 1985 and 1986 … Won Thad Garner Leader- ship Award in 1986 … Helped team to consecutive outright titles in his last two seasons. Professional Accomplishments: Fifth-round NBA Draft pick in 1986 … Rellford played four games in the NBA in 1987-88 before signing a $250,000 contract to play in Israel. He also played in Greece, Spain, Argentina and Turkey. "I wanted to play. I didn't want to be in the NBA and sit on the bench," he said. "My agent came to me that summer with an offer after I had a really good summer league perfor- mance and I said, 'I'm leaving. standing games in Ann Arbor, but his last regular-season game in a Michigan uniform — an 80-52 drubbing of Indi- ana — was his most memorable. "We came out and said we were going to intimidate them by being really physical with them," Rellford recalled. "We Michigan Memory: Rellford enjoyed a number of out- ' I never looked back." decided when we came out to shake hands at the begin- ning — we said in the locker room, 'We're gonna smack their hands so hard that we're going to let them know we're seri- ous about what we're about to do. was our game plan, to go in and show them that we are the best team in the Big Ten." Rellford knew he and his teammates were on the cusp of ' That's what we did. That greatness a year earlier. "After we wont the NIT, we all stayed in school. We all worked out together the whole summer," Rellford recalled. "We knew then had a really good team. We went to Sandy Sanders League and St. Cecelia's in Detroit, and we destroyed those teams. I went back to Florida maybe once. Roy and I said, 'We can make this a basketball school as well as a football school if we go in and play the way we can.' That's what we did. a marketing and consulting firm that helps young athletes prepare for their futures. He also runs a property manage- ment firm dealing with high-end homes. Family: Rellford is single and resides in West Palm Beach, Fla. He has a grown daughter and a 10-year-old son. Current Occupation: Owner of Rellford and Thompson, '" JUNE/JULY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 77 four of their NCAA Tournament contests, winning close first-round games in each of their championship seasons before falling in the second round, first to 1985 national cham- pion Villanova, then to former Mich- igan coach Johnny Orr and Iowa State. "We should have beaten them both," Rellford said. "Our guard play really wasn't as good in the postsea- son. We could have beaten anybody. We were the No. 1 team in the nation United States in 2001, quickly finding a life of fishing and golf didn't suit him. He became an entrepreneur and recently started the marketing con- sulting firm Rellford and Thompson, which helps young athletes prepare for their futures. He also runs a prop- erty management firm dealing with high-end homes. Judging by his recent photos, you'd think he might still be able to play. "Coach Frieder would always say, four games in 1987-88, playing be- hind all-star Alvin Robertson in San Antonio before Europe beckoned. A big offer convinced him to travel overseas, where he enjoyed a long stretch in both Israel and Greece fol- lowed by stints in Spain, Argentina and Turkey. He led the Greek league in scoring three straight years and learned the language, adding to the Hebrew he'd mastered in Israel. Rellford retired and returned to the 'When you retire you're going to weigh 300 pounds,' but I'm not," he said with a laugh. "I've only gained 20 pounds since school. "I love it here in West Palm Beach. It's unbelievable. Every day feels like a vacation. But you have no idea how much I love Michigan. I tell every- body they were the best four years of my life." ❏

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