Green's 21.1 scoring average and Hubbard's 18.8 make them the only Wolverines in double figures, but Grote plays an important role also. He is, Orr says, "no patty-cake and at times looks as if he should be playing for Bo Schembechler, the football coach." Two broken noses, a sprained thumb and torn cartilage in his chest have not slowed him down a bit in his fourth season as a starter. He manages to survive on toughness ("I love to make my opponents feel bad").
Even with this collection of veteran talent, Orr worries that "we aren't where we should be. I'm still having to make changes at the other forward position, which is something the very best teams never have to do. But I do believe we can beat any team we play without special adjustments. Last season against Indiana we zoned some because we knew they were better than us. This year we played our own game and Indiana changed some things—a different lineup, a different offense to combat our press."
If Michigan does return to the final four, credit should also go to Assistant Coach Bill Frieder, a self-made basketball man whose 24-hour devotion to the game makes the head coach and everyone else around him seem lax by comparison. Orr has always had good assistants ( Fred Snowden, now at Arizona; Jim Dutcher, now at Minnesota) and has always given them a great deal of responsibility and authority. Except for Orr's veto power and greater visibility, Frieder is in many ways the head coach—making out the schedule, coordinating the recruiting, running the basketball camp, formulating and implementing much of the strategy.
Frieder even points out, in case no one notices, that Orr began his string of three NCAA appearances when Frieder joined the staff. Indeed, Orr asked Frieder not to leave last year when he was considering taking a head coaching job. "John's biggest attribute," says Frieder, "is his ability to hire good assistants. Otherwise I don't think we would be as successful as we are."
So far the Michigan system has worked. It has been more than three years since somebody ran for student-body president on a Dump Orr platform. The team is winning. Crisler Arena is filled. And Orr can continue to be the nice guy he has always been without worrying about his job. Frieder will see to that. And if Frieder doesn't, there are always Rickey Green and Phil Hubbard.