Dec. 15, 2013
By Jenny Herstein, U-M Public & Media Relations
In the early hours of Saturday morning (Dec. 14), as the University of Michigan men's basketball team prepared to host No. 1 Arizona at Crisler Center, a snowstorm began -- that over the next twelve hours would accumulate to about 4.7 inches of snow.
Around 7 a.m., as the skies of Ann Arbor were still dark, a dedicated group of students arrived outside the doors of Crisler, armed with coats, hats, mittens and blankets, to wait for their chance to secure courtside seats for the game. With one more week of finals still in store for many Michigan students, waking up early to brave the elements took considerable dedication.
"It was really terrible," said Derick Hutchinson, a member of the Maize Rage, and one of the first to arrive at Crisler. "The wind is the worst part for sure."
"We froze," added Elijah Butler, who joined the crowd around 8 a.m. "We had coats, but the wind was blowing and it was snowing. It wasn't fun."
Yet, despite the weather, the students showed up in large numbers in order to provide the best possible home atmosphere for the Wolverines.
"We care about Michigan basketball, so this is a priority" said Hutchinson. "We had easy games to start the season at home, so getting the No. 1 team is exciting."
"I think (the large student crowd) definitely helps the team," said Matt O'Callaghan, who arrived a bit after 8:30 a.m. "It makes when we go on scoring runs a lot better. It gets in the other team's head."
The students waited patiently with little to entertain them as they waited to enter Crisler for the noon tipoff.
"Mostly, we were all just trying to face away from the wind," Hutchinson said.
The University of Michigan Athletic Department provided hand warmers to the students and even let them around 10:00 a.m., a half hour before the doors were supposed to open to students.
"They had pity on us," Hutchinson said.
Braving the cold was not the only way that students chose to show their passion for the Wolverines. Many came in costume, portraying Teletubbies, Sesame Street characters or animals. Butler and his friends sat courtside dressed as hotdogs.
"I just love hotdogs. And it was a noon game so it's a little too early to eat hotdogs for breakfast," said Butler. "So I figured I would just wear my hotdog suit, and it would inspire the team to victory."
Another group of students held up a poster saying, "Go Blue!" with a picture of the blue turtle shell from the Mario Kart video game franchise -- an item that when activated knocks the leader of the race out of first place.
The students weren't the only ones ready to cheer on the Wolverines against the nation's top team. The Crisler Center participated in a Maize Out, with fans around the stadium donning yellow shirts and pom-pons. Staff at the Crisler Center displayed a noise dosimeter on the scoreboard screen, measuring how loud the crowd was.
Although the Wolverines would fall just short, losing to Arizona, 72-70, it wasn't for lack of enthusiasm on the part of these dedicated fans.
Game Recap: Michigan Suffers Two-Point Defeat to No. 1 Arizona