Webber puts up to shut down Owls Michigan 77, Temple 72

FINALLY, THE FOUR

March 29, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

SEATLLE — SEATTLE -- On the day before the game, Chris Webber kept talking about how sorry he felt for Temple, about how the criticism of Michigan would force him maybe to squash an Owl or two during yesterday's NCAA West Regional final.

But everywhere he turned at half- Michigan 77, Temple 72

time, with his team trailing by eight, the sophomore forward basically was told to put up or shut up.

"At halftime, Coach [Steve Fisher] was telling me I wasn't giving the effort, that my aggressiveness wasn't there, and all the other coaches were telling me the same thing," Webber said. "It gave me a challenge. They told me to play like a man, rebound and give second and third efforts."

Webber's second and third efforts were good enough to earn No. 1 seed Michigan (30-4) its second straight trip to the Final Four. The Wolverines dominated inside en route to a 77-72 victory over No. 7 seed Temple (20-13) before 24,196 at the Kingdome.

The second-half numbers for Webber -- nine points, seven rebounds and four blocks -- apparently were good enough for the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder to show off his dance moves after the final horn. It was a display of emotion that has been absent from the "Fab Five" in this year's run to the Final Four.

"This is my second time in a row, in my first two attempts, in making it to the Final Four, and a lot of fifth-year seniors don't get to do that," Webber said, smiling for the press for perhaps the first time since arriving in Seattle.

As he later got up to leave the podium, Webber happily screamed, "We're in the house!"

It was perhaps the most complete effort by the Wolverines in four tournament games, but Webber, named the regional's Most Outstanding Player, and the other Michigan inside players didn't gain a fan in Temple coach John Chaney.

Chaney received a technical foul with 1:49 left in the game, with his team trailing 67-62. Chaney yelled to freshman center Derrick Battie, "If they won't call it, put him on the floor." The official standing near Chaney called the technical. The official said the whistle was blown because of the Temple coach's use of profanity.

"I said clearly, 'I want you to dump him the next time he's on your back' -- the behavior may have been very profane," Chaney said. "I made it very clear to [Battie] and all my players after watching a number of games that [Michigan] plays that they push and put one hand over your back and jump over you. And I thought that was happening to my team over and over again."

Michigan's Ray Jackson was fouled just before the technical, and hit one of two free throws. Jalen Rose (17 points, zero turnovers in 38 minutes) made the two technical free throws and 13 seconds later hit two more, giving the Wolverines a 72-62 lead with 1:36 left. From there, the Wolverines were never threatened.

"I didn't hear what he said, but it had an impact without a doubt," said Fisher, who is making his third trip to the Final Four. "We feel we would have still won the game, but it gave us a comfort level to know that we're going to get the ball after all those free throws."

The technical foul probably didn't make the difference. Temple, which led by as many as 10 in the first half, was worn out by the bigger and stronger Wolverines. When 6-11 freshman center William Cunningham fouled out with 9:15 left, Temple, with the exception of Battie, 6-9, had no one over 6-6 on the floor the rest of the way. In Webber and Juwan Howard, Michigan has two 6-9 players on the front line and another at 6-8, Rose, in the backcourt.

"We weren't tired -- they were just too strong inside," said Temple guard Rick Brunson, who scored 21 and had nine of his team's 10 as

sists. "It was just talent that beat us. They just kept pounding it inside. When you have a Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, you're going to take a beating."

Neither Webber nor Howard was really in the game in the first half. Michigan trailed at halftime (35-27) for just the sixth time this year. Temple had eight steals (accounting for all of Michigan's first-half turnovers) and converted them into 16 points, and had nine offensive rebounds in the half.

"Coach felt that Chris and I weren't doing a good job as far as establishing position inside," Howard said.

That was reflected in the three first-half free throws by the Wolverines, who averaged 26 free throws in three previous tournament games. The inside game was established at the start of the second half, and Webber's free throw with 14:23 left gave Michigan its first lead, 42-41.

Eddie Jones (18 points) banked in a 10-foot jumper to regain the lead for Temple, 43-42, with 14:00 left, but Michigan scored its next nine points on layups and free throws and went up 51-47.

Temple took its last lead after Aaron McKie (19 points) hit two free throws with 5:47 left to make it 56-55, but five straight layups -- capped by an alley-oop dunk from Rose to Jimmy King -- helped Michigan to a 66-58 lead and control.

"I think we tired on the boards, and we lost personnel on the boards," Chaney said.

Temple's offense also consists basically of three players -- Jones, Brunson and McKie -- who took 50 of the team's 59 shots and scored 58 of the 72 points. Michigan's defense took away the perimeter shots, and the Owls were forced to a penetration game that was met with heavy resistance.

"It was extremely tough to get to the basket," McKie said. "Every time you drove, either Webber, Howard or [Eric] Riley was waiting."

This marks the second consecutive year that Temple has been eliminated by the Wolverines (it happened in the first round last year). But Chaney said he was happy with a team that didn't appear to be going anywhere after a 10-10 start.

"I've been a coach a long time, and I've had a lot of rides," Chaney said. "But these young men gave me perhaps one of the most memorable rides I've ever had. For perhaps only the second or third time of my life, I had 11 guys who really liked each other."

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