The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on March 1, 1998 · Page 24
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 24

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4D Dks Moixts Sunday Register H March 1, 1"M Football College Basketball 'Michigan drops consul i -v W -ir; x : f':. ., j - -j J-: t I i -- ' .iff BILL NKIUKWiALIVTiiR Rkgistkr Kurt Warner (13) says his experience in the Arena Football League under Iowa Barnstormers Coach John Gregory gives him confidence as he enters the World League of American Football. Warner embarks on second chance to plav in NFL Former Barnstormers quarterback expects to start for Amsterdam of the World League of American Football. By TOM WITOSKY Hi-.i;istkr Si.ff Writer Former Iowa Barnstormers quarterback Kurt Warner built his Arena Football League career in large measure by being able to pull victory out of disast er. For three years, the Cedar Rapids native, with his quick feet and strong arm, proved again and again that the Barnstormers could never be counted out of game. Now, Warner hopes that his experience and his ability to help his team overachieve won't fail him as he takes what probably is his final shot at making it in big- Warner time professional ope'u football. "If I am not able to get it done now, I don't think there are going to be too many more chances of me making it to the NIX," Warner said last week. "To me, this is the culmination of everything I have worked for since I got out of college." Warner, 28, left on Friday for Atlanta, where the World League of American Football begins training camp in preparation for the 1998 season, which begins in April. It is a challenge that makes Warner a bit uneasy, but doesn't shake his confidence. "I'm a little bit nervous," Warner conceded as he sat in the kitchen of his family's new home in Johnston. "It's a new situation, new surroundings. But I'm excited more than anything." So is St. Louis. The Rams, who overlooked a poor workout by Warner in December, signed him to a one-year, free-agent contract. "We are excited about Kurt because of his proven ability to produce results in the Arena league," said Charley Armey, director of player personnel for the Rams. "We think he has proven over the last three years that he deserves a chance and we will be watching him closely." Last week, the Rams allocated Warner to Amsterdam of the WLAF. Warner said he expects to be the starting quarterback for the Admirals, whose coach is Al Luginbill, a former coach at San Diego State. If he does well in Amsterdam, Warner would go to St. Louis' training camp in July and compete for one of three quarterback positions. : In going to the Rams, Warner left behind a surprising and successful Arena Football League career played in his home state. , Last season, Warner completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,1 19 yards and 79 touchdowns while tlirowing only 15 interceptions. He was named first-team all-Arena League for the second consecutive season. U lk2 The former Northern Iowa quarterback ranks sixth in career passing in the Arena Football League with a total of 10,464 yards in three seasons and 183 touchdowns. As the only starting quarterback in the Barnstormers' three-year history, Warner helped to lead Iowa to Central Division championships as well as appearances in the league's last two championship games. Under Warner, the Barnstormers posted a 32-10 regular-season record and a 5-3 playoff record. They never had a losing record and never failed to qualify for the playoffs. In all three seasons, Warner also showed an ability to play with inju ries, including a broken bone in his throwing hand during the 1997 season. Warner credited his success in the Arena Football League with improv ing his chances to make it to the NFL. "The biggest thing has been play ing. It has given me a lot more confidence," Warner said. Warner acknowledged that he is stronger and quicker, but believes his maturity as quarterback is the biggest difference since he was a rookie quarterback trying out with the Green Bay Packers four years ago. "When I went to Green Bay the first time, I had been a starting quarterback for only one year in college," he said. "I hadn't been faced with a lot of different situations. I hadn't played in a lot of big games." Moreover, Warner said the pressure of playing in games that have required almost perfect offensive production has been the most instructive. "We had games where we had to score every time we had the ball. If you don't score one time, you lose. So the constant pressure to perform at a top level for the team probably taught me the most," he said. While most experts might scoff at Warner's chances, Armey said the Rams were impressed not only with the 6-foot 2-inch, 215-pound Warner's physical skills, but also his ability to win games. "Clearly, Kurt's production is what is most impressive. You don't build up those kinds of numbers in any kind of football without having some talent," Armey said. Warner said he was even surprised that the Rams, who are looking for a backup quarterback for starter Tony Banks, remained interested in him after his tryout. It was nightmare. "I went down there and that workout I had was probably the worst workout I have ever had," Warner said, adding that he was still bothered by a broken bone in his throwing hand. "I was very inaccurate that day and I really thought I had wasted an opportunity." But the Rams offered him a contract a couple of days later. "They saw some things in me that they liked. That is why I say the Lord is taking care of me and my family," he said. Tom Witosky can be reached at wrtoskyfa-newt d, nreg.com or (515) 284-8522. Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock combine for 47 points in Wolverines' victory. From Register Wire Services Ann Arbor, Mich. Michigan's seniors knew Saturday's 76-70 victory over Wisconsin was their final home game. Brian Ellerbe, coach of the 21st-ranked Wolverines, wasn't sure whether it was his home finale. "I wish Steve Fisher was still there, but the guy sitting down there deserves another shot," Wisconsin Coach Dick Bennett said. "The way they play with tenacity and poise, I don't think anyone could've done a better job." Ellerbe, who took over when Fisher was fired last October, has led his team to three consecutive victories heading into the first Big Ten Conference tournament, where the Wolverines will be the No. 4 seed. Robert Traylor, a junior who may leave after this season, scored 26 points and Louis Bullock added 21 as Michigan rallied. Jerod Ward, one of the three seniors Maceo Baston and Travis Conlan are the others scored 11. Wisconsin lost its 11th consecutive conference game despite 28 points from guard Sean Mason, who was 9-for-13 overall and 6-for-8 on three-pointers. "Mason was incredible," Bullock said. "When he knocked one off the backboard from on top, I knew he was on. Guys might do it from the side, but not on top." Maure Linton had 15 points and seven rebounds for Wisconsin, which will have either the ninth or 10th seed when the league meet starts Thursday in Chicago. The Badgers have lost 15 in a row in Crisler Arena since 1982. Michigan did not score a field goal for the first 11 minutes 5 seconds of the second half. The Wolverines stayed in the game only because of free throws, making 26 of 32 overall and 23 of 28 in the second half. "We started getting into the post and getting to the free-throw line," Ellerbe said. "That's why I wasn't upset that we didn't get any field goals." The Wolverines missed their first eight second-half shots including five in one possession and didn't score from the floor until Conlan's layup off a steal gave them a 48-46 lead with 8:55 remaining. ESPN has March By JIM O'CONNELL Asshciatkd Press The only complaint a college basketball fan can have about ESPN's "championship week" is that the cable sports network lies to you. The best week that leads to the best month in the sport actually takes nine days. Other than that, there isn't anything to complain about. In that nme- 0TES day span that mmm began Saturday and runs through March 8, Selection Sunday, ESPN will broadcast 60 games, including 24 tournament championships that decide automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. All but three of the 28 conferences that hold postseason tournaments will be seen during the nine days. The Ivy League and Pac-10 don't have tournaments and Conference USA, the Southeastern Conference and the Southland won't have games on either ESPN or ESPN2. The entire Big East tournament will be shown, as will all but two games of the Atlantic Coast Conference and six games of the inaugural Big Ten tournament. Also included on ESPN2 are five women's title games, including the SEC, Big Ten and Big East The days that will be true tests for stamina are Wednesday and Saturday, when there will be 14 straight Big Ten record determines tourney hopes HANSEN Continued from Fage 3D day night's game. Without knowing how it came out, I do know that a victory gives the Hawkeyes a 9-7 record. At 9-7, 1 like their chances. It's hard to ignore a sweep of the Hoosiers and a 19-point home victory over then-No. 5 Purdue. That's assuming the selection committee doesn't make an example of the Hawkeyes and punish them for their dainty pre-conference schedule. That's also assuming they don't get blown out this week in Chicago. Chicago, site of the league tourna ment, is the new variable, the unknown piece of the puzzle. It's the reason Big Ten teams now play 16 league games instead of 18. How that affects the selection process, Conf. Al W I W L Michigan State 13 2 21 5 Illinois 13 3 21 8 Purdue 11 4 23 6 Michigan 11 5 21 8 Indiana 9 6 18 9 Iowa 8 7 19 9 Penn State 7 8 14 11 Minnesota 6 10 13 14 Wisconsin 3 13 11 18 Northwestern 3 13 10 16 Ohio State 1 14 8 20 SATURDAY'S GAMES MicNgan 76, Wisconsin 70 Minnesota 59, Northwestern 54 N Penn State at Ohio State N Indiana at Iowa (KDSM) TODAY'S GAME 1:00 Purdue at Michigan State (CBS) Mason answered with consecutive three-pointers that put Wisconsin ahead, 52-48. Andy Kowske's put-back left Wisconsin up, 63-60, with 6 minutes to go, But Michigan went ahead for good with an 8-0 run as Bullock and Ward sandwiched three-pointers around Traylor's tipin. The Wolverines iced the triumph by making six of eight free throws the rest of the way. "It's disappointing because we played one of our best games of the year," Bennett said. "Unfortunately, we sent them to the line 28 times in the second half and we only had nine. That's tough to overcome." WISCONSIN (70) Kowske 1-3 OO 2, Linton 6-8 34 15, Daugherty 36 12 9, Aunantal 0-3 0-0 0. Kelley 2-5 1-2 6, Duany 1-1 00 2, Mason 9-13 44 28, Burkemper 2-2 00 4, Coleman 2-2 0-1 4, Vershaw 00 00 0. Totals 2643 9-13. MICHIGAN (761 'io7, Conlan 36 Ward 4-9 00 11, Traylor 7-12 12-16 26, Reid 0-5 2-2 2, Bullock 6-14 9-10 25, Oliver 0-0 00 0, Asselin 0-0 00 0, Baston 1-1 34 5, Smith 0O 0-0 0. Totals 2147 2632. Halftone Michigan 34, Wisconsin 29. Three-point goals Mason 6, Daugherty 2, Kelley, Bullock 4, Ward 3, Conlan. Fouled out Kowske, Coleman, Ward. Rebounds Wisconsin 27 (Linton 7), Michigan 20 (Traylor 8). Assists Wisconsin 16 (Kowske, Daugherty 3), Michigan 10 (Conlan 4). Fouls Wisconsin 27, Michigan 17. A 12,324. Minnesota 59, Northwestern 54 Minneapolis, Minn. Eric Harris and Sam Jacobson combined for 34 points in their final Big Ten appearance in Williams Arena, leading Minnesota to victory. The Gophers have won six of their past 10 games after a 0-6 start in conference play. The teams will meet again Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in the United Center in Chicago. Northwestern's Evan Eschmeyer led all scoring with 24 points, his 40th consecutive game in double-figures. Eschmeyer, who entered the game hours of college basketball games each day. The week wraps up with hour-long Selection Sunday specials as the fields are announced. ESPN will again conduct an NCAA tournament contest on its web site (espn.com). Last year there were more than 177,000 participants. Spare a dime For the third time in four seasons, the top seed in the Patriot League tournament had to be decided by a coin flip. Lafayette and Navy each finished with 10-2 regular-season records, and each step in the tiebreaking process was even. That meant going to the coin, again, and Navy won it with heads. Navy lost the coin flip to Colgate in 1996. Colgate also won a flip in 1995, and both years the Red Raiders went on to win the league tournament. Stats a friend Antonio Reynolds-Dean had 11 rebounds against Massachusetts last week to move into fourth place on Rhode Island's career list He did until Ms point guard stuck his nose into the record book. Tyson Wheeler, one of the country's best point guards, works as an intern in the school's sports information office. Wheeler was doing some research and discovered that Gary Koenig's 1,039 rebounds from 1960-62 had been mistakenly left off the career list, keeping him out of the we'll soon see. At 8-8, the odds drop considerably for the Hawkeyes and anyone else. At 8-8, the RPI comes into play. A preliminary-round victory against a Big Ten bottom-dweller won't help much, either. At 8-8, two more victories, minimum, are essential. Since 1985, a team with a .500 record in the Big Ten sat back and waited for the selection committee to flip a coin. Since 1985, 13 teams have finished 9-9 in the Big Ten. Six grabbed tourney invitations, seven didn't The Hawkeyes have come up both heads and tails. In 1995, they finished 9-9 and were out In 1991, they finished 9-9 and were in. The year they were snubbed, they finished the regular season with 19 victories. The year they slipped into the field, they slipped in with 20 victories. p,,,,rMM.Bii.u..i w iimm. - - , Mr r- o w ..i : , ; ' ; r w I - -' TkT - '" iw V I' ; - Michigan's Jerod Ward soars after making contact with Wisconsin's David Burkemper while taking a shot in Saturday's game.' as the Big Ten's top scorer in all games, also had 12 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the year. Harris made seven of 13 field goals to finish with 20 points. He also had four assists and five steals. Jacobson made just three of 16 field goals but hit eight of 11 free throws to finish with 14 points. Kevin Clark also was in double-figures for Minnesota with 10 points, including the only three-point shot the Gophers made in 15 tries. Madness No. 2 spot. That meant Reynolds-Dean dropped back to fifth place. There is no truth to the rumor Reynolds-Dean has applied for a job in the sports information office, asking for a pencil and a look at the career assists list Road victories Indiana State's 68-56 victory over Drake last week was the Sycamores' fifth conference road victory of the season. The last time they did that was 1978-79, when Larry Bird led them to the NCAA championship game. Oklahoma State's 64-61 victory over Kansas State last week was the Cowboys' fifth conference road victory of the season. The last time they did that was 1964-65, when they finished one victory shy of the Final Four. Up in the air The rosters for the McDonald's All-America game were announced this week, and the great news for a lot of college basketball fans is that seven of the 24 players still haven't decided which school to attend. Two schools Florida and North Carolina have two players invited who have committed to them. The Gators will have Ted Dupay, a 5-foot 10-inch guard from Cape Coral, Fla, and Mike Miller, a 6-8 forward from Mitchell, S.D.. The Tar Heels will have Jason Capel, a 6-8 forward from Prospect Hall, Md., and Kris Lang, a 6-10 forward from Hunter, N.C. Though it seems like a nice, clean distinction, don't get hung up on the number 20. For some reason, people still prattle on about the importance of winning 20. They might as well be talking about the importance of wearing baggy shorts. The graveyard of NCAA also-rans is littered with teams that won 20 games. Last year alone, 18 teams hit the not-so-magical 20 and failed to earn a bid. Southwest Missouri State won 24 games and was exiled to the National Invitation Tournament Nevada-Las Vegas won 20 and stayed home. The list of at-large teams that made the field without 20 victories is nearly as long. Here's last year's lineup: Arizona, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Purdue, Southern California, Temple, Texas, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wisconsin. We're not talking automatic quali Associated Press Northwestern managed just one field goal in the final 13 minutes. NORTHWESTERN 1541 Harmsen 2-3 00 4, Branch 2-7 44 8. Eschmeyer 8-14 8-11 24, Bonner 2-12 0-2 4, Wink 3-8 0O 9, Harris 1-1 0-0 2, Pomeday 1-2 0-0 3, Molnar 00 00 0. lotals 1 12-1. MINNESOTA (59) Jacobson 3-16 8-11 14. Lewis 3-16 2-2 8. Schoenrock 0-0 OO 0, Clark 4-13 1-3 10, Harris 7-13 W ZU. Natnaniel U-U LRI U, Ja.Stantord 0-1 IM) U, Je.Stanford 0-0 1-2 1, Broxsie 1-1 2-2 4, Tarver 00 2-2 2. Totals 18 50 22-28. Halftime Minnesota 31, Northwestern 17. Three-point goals Wink 3, Pomeday, Clark. Fouled out Harmsen. Rebounds Northwestern 35 (Eschmeyer 12), Minnesota 30 (Tarver, Broxsie. Jacob-son 4). Assists Northwestern 1 3 (Bonner ), Minnesota 1 2 (Harris, Nathaniel 4). Fouls Northwestern ia M; - on A i i C1 n h. t, iviiiincsuia u. n it,ji3. covered Improvement Oregon sopho more forward A.D. Smith has put together one of the most impressive improvements in recent years at the free-throw line. As a freshman two seasons ago, Smith was 26-of-44 from the line (59.1 percent). He was a redshiri last season, came back this year as a sophomore and is 62-for-75 from the line, (82.7 percent). ; Smith, the Ducks' third-leading scorer at 9.9 points per game, isn't too shabby from beyond the three-point line either, hitting 44.3 percent (18-of-41). Farewell Golden Eagles Northeastern Illinois played its lat college basketball game last week a 106-81 loss to Oral Roberts. The Chicago-based school announced earlier this year that it was disbanding its entire athletic program. Since the Golden Eagles were ruled ineligible for the Mid-Continent Conference tournament because they didn't meet minimum scholarship requirements, the regular-season finale was the team's last game. A crowd of 402 was at the last game, and it saw the Golden Eagles fall to 6-19 for the season and 78-138 in their eight seasons as a Division I program. The basketball program began in 1965-66 and competed in the NAL, making seven tournament appearances until moving to Division II for 1989-90 and then Division I. ' fiers who won their league tournaments. Texas, for goodness sakes, , won only 16 games before beating 18-game winner Wisconsin in the first round. Kansas State once slithered in at -17-14. In the glory days of the Big . East, Villanova made it at 16-14 in 1991. Only two Big Ten teams with losing conference records have wan gled their way into the field of 64. In 1990, Indiana squeezed in at 8-10. Then in 1994, Wisconsin made the tournament and proved it belonged by beating Cincinnati. Ten ' conference losses definitely won't do it tlus year, but nine victories almost certainly will. Marc Hansen can be reached at nansencnews.dmree.com or (515) 284-8534.

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