By Seth Klempner
Daily Sports Writer
History will come alive tomorrow afternoon in Crisler Arena when Michigan (6-2 Big Ten, 13-8 overall) takes on Iowa (4-3, 12-6).
No, Fritz Crisler and Fielding Yost will not be making their triumphant returns for the Maize and Blue. Rather, former Michigan All-American Rudy Tomjanovich, current head coach of the Houston Rockets, will be in attendance. The Michigan alum will have his No. 45 jersey retired during halftime of tomorrow’s game, becoming just the second player to receive such a distinction besides Cazzie Russell.
Tomjanovich led the Wolverines in scoring and rebounding all three years he played at Crisler (1967-70), and currently ranks sixth on Michigan’s all-time scoring list (1,808).
But Tomjanovich will not be the one making history tomorrow. The Wolverines, who have dominated their home court, will be going for their 11th straight home victory for the first time since 1991. The Wolverines are 10-2 at home this season and have won all four of their Big Ten games in Crisler.
Michigan couldn’t be happier that it is playing at home after two close road loses to No. 14 Illinois and Minnesota.
Said freshman Lester Abram about returning to Crisler: “It is a chance to give our opponents a taste of their own medicine to come into a hostile environment.”
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker hopes that Michigan learned from the “brand of basketball played last week” and uses it to propel itself for the rest of the season.
If nothing else, Michigan will be healthier after having a respite from its normal Wednesday game. There is no doubt that the rigorous schedule was starting to take its toll on the Wolverines, as they collected minor injuries like it was a hobby.
Amaker gave his team Sunday and Tuesday off and shortened several of the team’s practices this week. But he also raised the intensity level during the time they did spend in practice, and made sure his players returned to the basics.
Unfortunately, during this time off, Michigan was unable to get completely healthy. Freshman guard Daniel Horton, who is leading the team in minutes played, felt something pop in his ankle during practice Wednesday. Horton is not concerned with the injury and expects to play this weekend.
Michigan will need him for the stretch run at the Big Ten Championship. It is just one game behind Purdue for first place. With that goal in its sights, Michigan has the opportunity to put up more than just Tomjanovich’s No. 45 banner this season.