Let it no longer be questioned who owns Crisler Arena.
The Michigan basketball team has benefited throughout its streak from the presence of fans filling the seats in Crisler and yesterday’s 60-58 win over Michigan State was no exception.
A sold out crowd greeted the Wolverines when they stepped out on the court for what would be their 13th-straight victory. Michigan fans marched into Crisler Arena up to four hours beforehand to cheer on their team. This support was not lost on the Wolverines.
“When I came outside on the floor, I had a tingle on my spine,” freshman Lester Abram said. “I’ve never felt that before in my life. I didn’t expect all the seats, all the way up to the top of the Crisler building to be filled up like that.”
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker and his team have been very candid about the importance of the fans and the role they play. The crowd became Michigan’s sixth man and provided a spark for the Wolverines to feed off of.
“They’ve been great most of this year,” junior forward Bernard Robinson said. “We’ve been able to feed off them all year. They really stepped up for us today giving us the extra boost of energy.”
The cheers of “Go Blue” drowned out the cheers of “Go Green, Go White,” from the few Spartans’ fans, and the crowd began to yell and cheer when the defense needed to make a stop.
Big plays, such as Daniel Horton’s 3-pointer at the end of the game and Robinson’s dunk off of a steal in the first half, brought the crowd to its feet. The crowd also stuck with the Wolverines when they were down in the final ten minutes of the game, cheering them on to get back in the game.
The crowd stood on its feet for the final minutes of the game while Michigan State’s Chris Hill tried to will his team to victory connecting on two improbable triples in the span of nine seconds. When the horn blew, the almost rabid fans stormed the court as the band played “Hail to the Victors.”
“It was the first time I’ve seen so many people in Crisler Arena,” Abram said. “I have never seen so many Michigan fans at a Michigan-Michigan State game. It was great. I love the Maize Rage. They give us a lot of support.”
The Wolverines were glad to play in front of their first sold-out crowd of the season, and they hope fans will continue to pack in to Crisler for the rest of the season.
“The gym was much louder than it has been in the previous games,” freshman Chris Hunter said. “I’m just looking forward to continuing that. Every time we have a home game that’s not Michigan State, I want it to be filled up. Hopefully, people will start coming in here a little more.”