Bill Frieder, who left Michigan on the eve of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament, had mixed emotions Saturday as he watched the Wolverines rout Virginia, 102-65, to reach the Final Four.
“I was extremely happy for (interim coach) Steve Fisher, (assistant coach) Mike Boyd and the entire team,” Frieder said. “You have to remember that I hired Steve and Mike, and I recruited these players.
“Of course it hurt a little that I couldn’t be with them, but I was there in thought and spirit.”
Frieder, who accepted the coaching job at Arizona State the day before the tournament started, watched the Southeast Regional final on television from his temporary home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Frieder was ordered to discontinue coaching Michigan by Athletic Director Bo Schembechler after he accepted the Arizona State position.
“I was confident Michigan could handle Virginia,” he said in a telephone interview. “They were just a better team, bigger and stronger.”
Frieder said he missed some of the telecast because of his recruiting duties at Arizona State, “but I got back in time to see them cut down the nets,” he said.
Despite a fine record during his nine years at Michigan, Frieder’s Wolverines never advanced to the Final Four.
“If that’s the worst thing that ever happens to me, I’ll have a great life,” he said. “I’m just thrilled for (seniors) Mark Hughes and Glen Rice because this was their last chance to make it. I’ll have another chance.”
Frieder said he thinks the Wolverines can win the national championship. To reach the final, Michigan will have to beat the winner of today’s Midwest Regional final between Illinois and Syracuse.
“Illinois is an extremely tough basketball team,” Frieder said. “They’re undefeated with (guard) Kendall Gill. Of course, Michigan is undefeated with Steve Fisher.”
Frieder said it would be “a crime” if Fisher isn’t named as his replacement.
“He was a loyal assistant for seven years and now he’s doing a great job in the tournament,” Frieder said.