Even Cazzie Russell, chatting alongside the grassy embankment of
his ‘house,’ waited for Glen Rice to arrive.

In an effort to link the past with the present, the Michigan
athletic department hosted current and former Michigan basketball
players before the football game on Saturday at a tailgate in the
parking lot of Crisler Arena, or “the House that Cazzie
Built.”

“I’m waiting (to meet) Glen Rice,” said
Michigan’s newest member, freshman Ron Coleman.

Coleman’s teammate, Courtney Sims, wanted to meet Jalen
Rose, a player he watched as a young man.

Even Terry Mills, a member of the 1989 National Championship
team, anticipated the conversations with former teammates and
Michigan legends, that he said are not as common as they should
be.

“I’m (looking for) some of the players that I
actually admired when I was (growing) up, like Phil Hubbard, Butch
Wade and some of those types of guys,” Mills said “And
of course I want to see some of the guys from the (1989)
championship team.”

Rice, a teammate of Mills and a member of the championship team,
will have his No. 41 jersey retired during halftime of the Feb. 20
basketball game against Indiana, and those at the event kept
waiting — dangerously close to kickoff — to
congratulate him.

Russell and Phil Hubbard, two former players who had their
jerseys retired, spent the morning reminiscing with old teammates
and current Michigan players.

“It’s vitally important to have your past linked
with your present and also promote that for the future,”
Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker said. “This is what
our program is about.”

Junior Daniel Horton, Michigan’s starting point guard,
took full advantage of the event.

“It means a lot to us as current players to show that (the
former players) still care, that they still love this
University,” Horton said. “I want to talk to all of
them, all those guys were great players. It’s definitely good
to see that (Rice’s jersey) will be retired. They should have
done that along time ago. He was a great player and did great
things here.”

Rice averaged 25.6 points-per-game during his senior year in
which he led Michigan to the 1989 National Championship.

“I was wondering when they were going to retire
(Rice’s) number because he was one the best players to ever
play at Michigan,” Sims said.

Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin said that Rice’s
ceremony is part of an effort to honor Michigan basketball greats
from each decade.

It’s unclear who may be honored for their contributions
during the current decade, but members of this year’s team
expect to restore the same greatness that Rice brought to Michigan
basketball.

“We’re expecting to be No. 1 in the Big Ten, to win
the Big Ten conference and win the Big Ten Tournament and then go
to the (NCAA Tournament) and make it deep there and win it,”
Sims said. “We have as much as talent as anybody in college
basketball.”

“I think the sky is the limit for this team,” Horton
said. “If we work hard and share the basketball and play
defense like we’ve always done, we’ll be fine.
There’s no limit to what we can achieve.”

The man who led Michigan to its only National Championship never
did show up at the event. Michigan officials said Rice was stuck in
traffic on Main Street. But the confidence and aura of the 1989
team seemed to arrive.

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