ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Five Michigan basketball players and a recruit all escaped serious injury early Saturday when their vehicle rolled while returning from a party in Detroit.
The players were Maurice Taylor, who was driving, Willie Mitchell, Robert Traylor, Louis Bullock, all starters, and Ron Oliver. The recruit was Mateen Cleaves, a 6-foot-2 guard who led Flint Northern to the Class-A Michigan state championship last season.
Traylor, a 320-pound freshman, suffered the most serious injury, a broken right arm, and will sit out the remainder of the season. The others are expected to play today when the Wolverines, 15-9 overall and 5-6 in the Big Ten, play host to Indiana (15-9, 8-4).
"I am relieved and extremely grateful that we didn't have a catastrophe, or a tragedy, because it could have been," Michigan Coach Steve Fisher said.
Fisher said the players were returning from a party in Detroit. "Obviously, good judgment wasn't being used in being out that late," he said. "You can speculate all you want. But if we hadn't had a recruit come in, it probably wouldn't have happened."
Cleaves had a game Friday night, helping Flint Northern to a 63-54 victory over Clarkston. When he finally arrived in Ann Arbor, the group drove to Traylor's home in Detroit, then went to a party.
Fisher said he told them, "Use good judgment. Don't be out all night."
Police said alcohol was not considered a factor in the accident.
"I have been told by the kids and by officers that alcohol was not involved," Fisher said. "Also speeding was not a factor. I'm confident I have truthful players."
Taylor, the 1995 Big Ten freshman of the year, was driving a Ford Explorer along Michigan Highway 14 when the accident occurred at 4:50 a.m. EST, Washtenaw Sheriff's Sgt. Carl Werner said.
Taylor and Traylor, also in the front, both were wearing seat belts. The other four, all asleep in back, apparently were not wearing seat belts.
"They completely rolled over," Werner said. "I think they were packed so tight, that's why they didn't get ejected."
Taylor received a careless driving citation.
"The officer said, 'As you look at the car, you wonder how people survived,' " Fisher said. "It rolled back and back again. It was a serious accident."
Fisher said he didn't plan on suspending the players.