Former Sun Devil Coach Bill Frieder On The Road To Recovery (Saginaw News, Oct. 24, 2006)

Oct. 25, 2006

by Paul Neumeyer, Saginaw News (Oct. 24, 2006)

Bill Frieder isn't one to back down from challenges.

So don't expect him to now.

Whether it was competing in a national youth bowling tournament, sellingproduce door-to-door for his dad's Florida Market, or trying to convincethe top college basketball prospects to join his program, Frieder wentall out.

Now, the Saginaw native and former University of Michigan and ArizonaState men's basketball coach is facing a new challenge: colon cancer. Agrowth was discovered in Frieder's colon during a routine checkup inlate September. Two weeks later, Frieder went in for surgery to have 12inches of his colon removed.

'They think they got it all and that it's not in my lymphnodes. I've gotexplore whether or not to have chemotherapy treatment. I was shocked,but they think they caught it at the right time,' Frieder said from hishome in Del Mar, Calif.

Learning he has cancer comes at a time when Frieder is about to addanother momento in a career full of achievements. He is among thisyear's induction class into the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame. It'sthe first Hall of Fame Frieder has been inducted into it.

'I'm excited about it, it's a great honor. Saginaw means a lot to me.All my successes are attributed to the training I had in Saginaw,'Frieder said. 'The work ethic I learned from working with my dad at hisproduce store. My coaching and basketball knowledge came from all thegreat people I played for and all the great programs they had for kidsback then.'

Frieder graduated from Saginaw HIgh where he played basketball underLarry Laeding, his future father-in-law.

The coaching career started for Frieder in 1965 when he accepted anoffer to coach the Alpena High School junior varsity boys basketballteam under Dick Dennis. Shortly thereafter, Dennis took the headcoaching job at Flint Northern and Frieder went with him to coach thejunior varsity.

That move opened the door for Frieder's future. He succeeded Dennis asvarsity head coach at Flint Northern and compiled a 66-9 record in threeyears, winning state titles in 1971 and 1972. His Northern teams won 37consecutive games and 21 tournament games over a two-year period.The success of Frieder's teams was enough to grab the attention offormer U-M men's basketball coach Johnny Orr. Frieder went to Ann Arborto serve as Orr's assistant for seven years. When Orr left in 1980 totake a job at Iowa State, Frieder was promoted to U-M's head coach.His Wolverine teams compled a 191-87 record, two outright Big Ten titlesand a National Invitation Tournament title. The Associated Press twicenamed Frieder Coach of the Year.

But Frieder's tenure at U-M ended on a bitter note. As the Wolverineswere preparing to open the NCAA Tournament in Atlanta in 1989, Friederannounced he was leaving at the end of the season to take the headcoaching job at Arizona State. Then U-M Athletic Director quicklyannounced Frieder would no longer coach the U-M team, and turned thetournament coaching duties over to assistant coach Steve Fisher. TheWolverines went on to win the national championship with Friederwatching from a distance.

'I probably would do it different if I had to do it over. I was going toAtlanta and I wasn't going to lie to my team, the media or anyone. WhenI was truthful Schembechler fired me. I was up front and got screwed alittle. If that's the worst thing that happens to me, then that's nottoo bad,' Frieder said.

Frieder finished his coaching career at Arizona State, compling a132-108 mark prior to retiring nine years ago. He remains activeserving as a commentator on Westwood One college basketball broadcasts,and helping to conduct summer basketball camps for the Sacramento Kings,Phoenix Suns and Michael Jordan's Fantasy Camp.Frieder says he doesn't miss coaching.

'The problems surrounded with coaching just left a sour taste in mymouth. I did it for 32 years. Once I was out for a month I knew I'dnever go back,' Frieder said.

David 'Tuck' Bedford was a childhood friend of Frieder's brother Larry.Bedford recalls numerous times when Frieder's generosity and care forkids came through, even while he was moving up the coaching ladder.

'So many people after he left and went to the big time forgot he wasstill a local guy who was a pretty good guy. He wasn't always the coachat U-M. It took him time to get there,' Bedford said.

Bedford recalls numerous times Frieder would help himself andneighborhood kids form teams. Then Frieder would find a sponsor, oftenprovide the teams with uniforms and equipment, coach the team, and oftenmake sure they were fed too. And this was while Frieder was still in hisformative years.

'I remember we formed a softball team and I didn't have a ballglove ofmy own,' Bedford said. 'Frieder gave me a Harvey Kuehn ballglove. Istill have that glove today.'

Bedford went on to become a world-class fastpitch softball player.

Frieder went on to become a nationally-renowned coach.

One who never backs down from a challenge.

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