Last year the Michigan men’s basketball team went into its
exhibition matchup against Michigan Tech aloof and relatively
unprepared.

This lackadaisical attitude led to what current junior Lester
Abram described as an “embarrassing” 73-61 win that was
much closer than expected.

The Wolverines took the jab to heart and have adopted a new
perspective that should help them perform a bit better when they
take on Michigan Tech on Sunday.

“Last year, those guys came in with a lot of
intensity,” junior Daniel Horton said. “They came here
to win. They wanted to win. I really respect those guys, and I
think our team has a lot more respect for them coming in the game
this year than we did last year.”

Michigan’s newfound admiration for the Huskies is not
undeserved. Michigan Tech forward Josh Buettner was named National
Preseason Player of the Year for Division II. Last season, Buettner
averaged 22.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while leading the
Huskies to an appearance in the NCAA Great Lakes regional semifinal
— Division II’s NCAA Tournament. Currently, the Huskies
are ranked No. 6 in Division II.

Horton said he knows what Michigan Tech will bring to the table
this weekend, and feels he is mentally prepared to counteract the
Huskies’ skills.

“Everybody on their team can shoot the ball, and they play
well together,” Horton said. “They are going to play
tough on ‘D,’ and rebound — and they are going to
do the things their coach asks them to do. That’s what you
have to expect from a championship-level program.”

This weekend presents the first opportunity for both teams to
test themselves against an opponent.

The game marks the beginning of what Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
and the rest of the Wolverines hope will be their most successful
season since Amaker arrived in Ann Arbor three years ago.

“I think, as we start this season, we’re very
optimistic about where we are and hopefully where we’re
headed,” Amaker said two weeks ago at Michigan’s Media
Day. “We’re coming off of a successful year for us this
past year in a lot of ways. Certainly we want it to be more
successful as we continue to climb the ladder, but we’re very
optimistic about this season and we’re very
hopeful.”

Horton believes that this game will be the Wolverines’
first stepping stone to bigger things.

“That’s what we are trying to do — be a
championship-level program — and playing against a team like
Michigan Tech will help us,” Horton said. “It will be a
step toward that.”

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