Wolverines try to focus on the future NCAA TOURNAMENT

April 06, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS -- They had been down this road before. Last year it was Duke in Minneapolis. Last night it was North Carolina here at the Louisiana Superdome. Teams from Tobacco Road have not been kind to the Michigan Wolverines.

"We're not frustrated for one thing, we should be proud and happy," Michigan coach Steve Fisher said after losing to the Tar Heels, 77-71, before a crowd of 64,151. "Our team has been through a long road and great times and great games. We have to move on. We have two years left, and we're not going to give up."

Even Fisher doesn't know if he has seen the last of the Fab Five, the all-sophomore starting team that made it twice to the NCAA championship game, only to fall short both times. It wasn't clear whether Chris Webber is going to surrender his last two years of eligibility, but last night's ending certainly will be hard for the All-America forward to forget.

When his team got blown out by Duke last year at the Metrodome, Webber called it the "lowest moment of my life." Last night, Webber said the feeling is "the same, it's exactly the same," after his ill-timed timeout led to Carolina's win.

Webber wasn't around in the locker room immediately following the defeat, but his teammates clearly didn't blame him. He had played like a warrior for most of the night, even coming back after being knocked woozy early in the second half. He had scored the basket on a rebound follow to cut North Carolina's lead to one, 72-71, with 36 seconds to go.

"I'm going to try to pick him up, just like he would pick me up," said Michigan guard Jalen Rose, Webber's best friend. "If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have even been in the position we were. It's frustrating to lose, but I'd be more frustrated if we were sitting home watching this on television."

Said Fisher: "It's going to be difficult to pick him up for a while. You tell him he needs to draw strength from that locker room because those are the guys that care the most. This team would not have been here without Chris Webber. People that care about him, their hearts go out to him. Sometimes you get in the heat of battle, some things happen that you say you just can't happen."

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