It’s no surprise that at its mass meeting last night, the Maize Rage ran out of chairs.
“We thought we were going to get 60 to 75 people,” said junior Nick Mattar, the Michigan basketball student section president. “We put up 80 chairs, and we got maybe 120 people.”
Last year, with the Wolverines coming off a 10-win season, 480 students bought tickets.
But after last season’s second-round finish in the NCAA Tournament, nearly 2,000 more student tickets have been sold.
In order to make sure Crisler Arena doesn’t encounter the same seating issues as the Maize Rage did at their meeting, the athletic department overhauled the ticket policy.
The ticket policy for the student bleachers will be on a first come, first serve basis. For the students sitting elsewhere in Crisler Arena, seating will be assigned. An important twist to the ticket policy is that the students who come to the most games will receive priority seating in the bleachers for the Connecticut and Michigan State games.
But the Maize Rage as a group has more issues to deal with than just seating. Mattar mentioned the need for more organization within the group on game days, citing times last year when the different parts of the student section chanted different phrases simultaneously. To tackle that problem, Mattar has instituted section leaders, experienced group members that will lead a specific group of the student section in chants during the games.
“We are going to make an effort to make this one, unified group,” Mattar said.
So far, the group has succeeded in attracting new members.
“I love being a fan, and if there’s a way to get more fans involved through more organization, I’m there,” said Eric Hutchinson, a freshman at his first Maize Rage meeting.
Would he still have joined the group if the team had been worse last year?
Even Michigan coach John Beilein showed up, saying that when he was asked to make an appearance at the meeting, it was a “no-brainer.” He was met with raucous applause and thanked all those in attendance.
Beilein stressed how he wants the Maize Rage to be more connected to the players, even saying he would be able to get some players to come to a few of the Maize Rage’s weekly meetings.
Beilein spoke briefly about Michigan’s exceedingly difficult schedule to begin the season, saying it was “one of the toughest in the country.” The team’s early-season schedule includes games against Boston College, Utah and Kansas, as well as a game against Connecticut in the middle of Big Ten play.
“It really helps when they have not only their fans behind them, but their friends behind them,” Beilein said.