ATLANTA -- Michigan's 300-pound center Robert "Tractor" Traylor has thrown all his weight behind a campaign to have former Loyola coach Brian Ellerbe named the permanent head coach of the Wolverines.
"I won't be back next year if Brian Ellerbe is not here," said Traylor, a 6-foot-8 junior in no uncertain terms. "I didn't come here to play for three coaches in four years. That's not fair for me or anybody else on the team. I've already played for two coaches [Steve Fisher and Ellerbe] and that's enough."
Traylor said he has been impressed with the way Ellerbe has been able to put his uncertain status this season as interim coach aside and concentrate on coaching the team.
Traylor not only made a strong commitment to Ellerbe yesterday as third-seeded Michigan (25-8) prepared to meet sixth-seeded UCLA (23-8) at 5 p.m. today in the second round of the NCAA tournament South Region, he refused to back down on a season-long vow that the Wolverines would make the Final Four this year.
"I never regret anything I say and I said before we played our first game this season we were going to the Final Four," said Traylor.
Ellerbe has deflected most of the questions about his future, saying he understands Michigan athletic director Tom Goss' position of waiting until the season is over.
"We'll make a decision when our process of reviewing coaches is over," Goss said. "I think you'll be pleased at the lengths we've gone to in this search."
Bullock expects to play
Michigan's Louis Bullock (Laurel Baptist) appeared to suffer the most serious injury of the first round, but he said he expects to play today.
Bullock deeply bruised his shin. He has been undergoing intensive treatment and taking medication to battle pain and swelling, but said he felt pretty good yesterday.
"In a game like this, where you're playing to get to the Sweet 16, you just suck it up and play," he said. "If I can walk tomorrow, I'm going to play."
The whistle stop tour
After the 49ers had tied the game on a three-point shot by sophomore guard Diego Guevera with just more than two seconds left in regulation over 6-9 Antawn Jamison, the Tar Heels tossed the ball downcourt to Jamison, who caught the ball near the Tar Heels' sideline and threw up an off-balance shot just as a whistle sounded.
Spectators figured a foul had been called. The three officials huddled under the North Carolina basket.
"There was no foul," explained referee Tom Harrington. "I inadvertently blew the whistle. When it went off, UNCC had possession and was entitled to the basketball."
The 49ers threw the ball past half court but didn't get off a good shot and the game went into overtime.
Both coaches considered it a good decision by the officiating crew.
Knight on the officiating
Midway through his explanation of a period where his team lost control of the game against Connecticut, Indiana coach Bob Knight made his pitch for referees Dave Libbey, Bob Sitov and William Kennedy.
"I've seen six officials here that I'd like to see in the Big Ten," Knight said. "What a difference it would make."
Knight, of course, paid a $10,000 fine imposed by the conference for being thrown out of a Feb. 24 game by official Ted Valentine and then calling his work a "travesty."
They said it
"[They are] my Cal Ripkens because they play 38 to 40 minutes a game and just keep on going." -- UCLA coach Steve Lavin, alluding to his three seniors -- Toby Bailey, J.R. Henderson and Kris Johnson.
"I can't even talk. I feel so bad right now. This team felt so good about playing together. But there's a sense of urgency once you get into the NCAA tourney. We're happy for the year we had, now the thought that this was our last game together is just a horrible feeling." -- Princeton senior Steve Goodrich.
"They're a great team that can beat you inside and outside, and playing them down there won't be easy. But heck, it's not easy playing on the road in Indiana, Purdue or Michigan, either." -- Michigan State coach Tom Izzo
"That was a play we put in late in the season. We caught them sleeping with one of their own plays. It really felt good." -- Michigan State junior forward Antonio Smith on a back-door cut the Spartans used to score the last basket of the first half.
"I'm definitely serious about it." -- Ben Baum, a 6-foot-11 senior forward for New Mexico, on his aspirations to become President of the United States.
Pub Date: 3/15/98