Tourney more than fun in the sun


LAHAINA, Hawaii -- The last time a Maryland basketball team visited Hawaii, the Terrapins were coming off a potentially devastating loss at home to Coppin State.

"The players we had then were pretty good, but they hadn't won in a while," recalled Maryland coach Gary Williams, then in his first year at his alma mater. "I think winning the tournament in Hawaii did a lot for the kind of year we had."

The Terps wound up beating George Mason, East Tennessee State and Sacramento State -- which had beaten Coppin -- to win the 1989 Chaminade Classic.

"This is a great tournament to find out where your team is," Williams said at an early-morning news conference yesterday.

This tournament is something of a Big Ten reunion for Williams, who coached at Ohio State from 1986 through 1989. Not only does the eight-team field include No. 9 Indiana and No. 16 Michigan, but also Arizona State, coached by former Wolverines coach Bill Frieder. It's also run by former longtime Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke.

"It reminds me of a Big Ten meeting -- one coach missing," TC Williams said.

That coach was Indiana's Bob Knight, whose absence at media-type functions is infamous throughout the Big Ten. Duke said the Hoosiers weren't expected to arrive until later in the day.

"Knight called me to tell me he was sick," Frieder said jokingly. "I think that means he's sick of the media."

Williams, by the way, has a 7-1 record in Hawaii. He's 0-7, though, against Knight, with six of the losses coming during his three years at Ohio State.

Friends and rivals

The most intriguing matchup could come if Michigan and Arizona State both advance.

It would mark the first meeting between Frieder and his former school. Frieder announced before the 1989 NCAA tournament that he was leaving Ann Arbor for Tempe after the season.

But Bo Schembechler, then Michigan athletic director and football coach, told Frieder to take a hike and immediately replaced him with an unknown assistant named Steve Fisher. The Wolverines wound up winning the national championship.

"Steve's my best friend," said Frieder. "My wife stays at their house when she goes back to visit. We spend a lot of time together during the off-season. But the media makes more of this than they should. There's a lot more important things in life. Whether Frieder plays Fisher is immaterial."

Said Fisher, whose teams have reached the NCAA championship game three times in his six years: "I owe everything that I have to Bill. I

think the reason he hired me in the first place was that Janice [Frieder] wanted Angie [Fisher] to come to Ann Arbor."

Friends and teammates

Fisher was happy to see former Wolverines star Juwan Howard finally come to terms with the Washington Bullets. And he says the arrival of former Michigan All-American Chris Webber will make for a smooth transition.

"I was very fearful that Juwan was going to be out for a long time," said Fisher. "Putting Chris with Juwan will be a boost for both of them, but especially for Juwan because he's a rookie."

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