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February 26, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-02-26

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8A -;Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

8A -Wednesday, February 26, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

It's time to expand the Maize Rage

Sophomore forward Nik Stauskas will look to continue his hot hand at Purdue.
Keys to the gam---e:
'M' visits Purdue-

Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan men's
basketball team had one week
to prepare for its game against
archrival Michigan State, and it
showed. Despite a slow start, the
were more Michigan
physically and a
mentally, and Matchup:
only minutes Purdue 15-12;
into the Michigan 19-7
second half, When:
Michigan (11-3 Wednesday
Big Ten, 19-7 7 P.M.
overall) began Where:
to impose its Mackey Arena
will on the TV:
Spartans. BTN
holding sole
possession of first place in the
Big Ten with just four games to
play, it must avoid a letdown if
it hopes to win its first outright
conference title in almost 30
years. The final stretch of the
season starts Wednesday, when
the Wolverines head to West
Lafayette to take on a middling
Purdue (5-9, 15-12) that has lost
seven of its last nine games.
Michigan won the previous
meeting, 75-66, on Jan. 30 in
Ann Arbor. The Daily breaks
down the three keys for another
Continue the Nik and
Caris show: it's clear that the
Wolverines are at their best
when sophomore guard Nik
Stauskas is at his. Early in Big
Ten play, Stauskas emerged
as one of the country's most
dangerous scorers, and as
Michigan rode a 10-game win
streak through East Lansing
and Madison, the talk shifted
to Stauskas' professional
aspirations. But when Stauskas'
play dropped off,the Wolverines
lost three of five games despite
a scoring surge from sophomore
guard Caris LeVert.
But when both are on, like
they were against the Spartans
- the guards combined to
score 48 points - the Michigan
backcourt is lethal enough to
beat anyone in the nation.
Control the ball: In the

teams' previous meeting, the
Wolverines shot a whopping
60.4 percent from the field,
yet only beat the struggling
Boilermakers by nine. How was
the game so close?
Michigan's starting backcourt
- Stauskas, LeVert and freshman,
point guard Derrick Walton Jr.-
combined to turn the ball over 10
times, and the team had 16 total
turnovers. That figure, more than
six above the team's average, kept
Purdue in the game - it led to 12
Boilermaker points.
If the Wolverines can
replicate their three-turnover
performance from Sunday's
win, they should have no
troubles with the Boilermakers.
Play your game: At the end
of the day, stats can be thrown
out in a game likethis. Michigan
is the vastly superior team, with
more talent, experience and
all the momentum on its side.
Purdue, on the other hand, is
sputtering to the finish line,
and a win over the 16th-ranked
Wolverines would be a nice way
to go out.
Don't expect the Boilermakers
to simply roll over, meaning the
onus is on Michigan to come out
looking focused.
"They're just as tough a game
to us as if we went to Ohio State,
went to Michigan State. They
may not be to the media, they
may not be in reality, but they
are to me," said Michigan coach
John Beilein.
That sounds nice, though it's
easier said than done, especially
coming from a coach and not a
group of college kids riding
high from the win of their
season. Still, Beilein insists that
he'll have his team ready.
"That's our whole job as a
coach, to be able to make sure
that they understand that at
this level of basketball, every
game is going to be a battle,"
Beilein said.
If he succeeds, his team
should, and relatively easily.
Michigan 81, Purdue 63
Want game coverage?
Check MichiganDaily.com
throughout the day for updates '

A minute before the
biggest home basketball
game of the year, and
Teddy Sallen
and his
of their
seats - they DANIEL
were behind
the basket, WASSERMAN
halfway up
the upper
bowl - or even a joke, at least an
intentional one, anyway.
It was at a video playing on
the video board just moments
before tip-off against Michigan
State on Sunday that had just
proclaimed the Maize Rage
the best student section in
the conference, just as public
address announcer Bobb
Vergiels had declared minutes
Such buffoonery has come to
be expected from the Athletic
Department under the direction
of Dave Brandon - lots of cheesy
talk and over-the-top marketing
that typically lacks the walk to
back it up.
So Sallen, an Engineering
freshman, was laughing. A few
sections to his right, so was LSA
senior Jonah Rosenbaum, who
"thought it was hilarious."
It was laughable, hilarious,
incredible, absurd and above
all - ina category that is
judged on such unquantifiable
and subjective factors -
unmistakably incorrect. But
since someone in Michigan's
vastly expanding marketing
department opened the
discussion, I'll play along. The
Maize Rage, the Michigan men's
basketball student section, is
at best No. 7 in the conference;
Minnesota in a good year can
arguably push it down to No.8.
But while the Athletic
Department likes to deflect
blame, this one can't be pinned
nn fh-+ti-+ntP

"If you put the students by the
court and you care about them,
you care about the experience,
you'll have a great environment,"
Rosenbaum said. "If you don't,
you'll have Crisler Center."
Officially, students are
allotted 3,000 of Crisler's 12,707
seats, though an additional 300
were saved for Sunday's game in
anticipation of increased student
demand. However, just 653 of
those seats are in the lower
bowl, and fewer than 400, a
meager 12 percent of the student
allocation, are the courtside
bleacher seats that encompass
the heart of the Maize Rage.
Compared with the Spartans'
Izzone, which wraps around
three-fourths of the arena,
pitting thousands of screaming
students right on top of opposing
players, Crisler is practically a
friendly confine.
And at least a friendly confine
awards some character to the
environment, which it had little
of in the buildup to Sunday's
game - the biggest home game
of the season against the school's
biggest rival.
Less than an hour before
game time, the building was
dead - save for a slew of
corporate and University ads
and the occasional chorus of
boos or cheers when the teams
entered or exited the floor.
Though nearly every student
seat was filled 50 minutes before
game time, the lack of buzz was
palpable with two-thirds of the
students a great distance from
the floor and only a handful
of non-students already in the
building. It was a stark contrast
from the game in East Lansing
a month earlier, when the
Breslin Center atmosphere was
fully charged well over an hour
before tip-off.
"It was dead in there -
it's embarrassing," Sallen
remembers of the two hours
spent before the game sitting
in the upper bowl of Crisler.
"You're sitting there waiting for
+hp Anrk t" nin ci-" nd tt-

game to start because that's all
there is to really think about.
You're not in the environment
of getting all crazy and rowdy.
You're just another spectator
that happens to have a general
admission ticket."
Added Rosenbaum: "It's
definitely deflating. The
whole thing is just a corporate
environment, which is fine for the
Super Bowl, but it shouldn't be
that way for Michiganbasketball.
If youlook atthe great programs,
the really crazy places to play
collegebasketball,that's not what
they're like. They're not run like
it's Domino's."
LSA sophomore Yale
Williams arrived at Crisler
at 6:45 a.m., early enough to
score seats in the bleachers
because his three experiences
sitting in the upper bowl were
"almost like watching iton TV,"
with those around him sitting
through the game's entirety,
texting or talking to friends. The
high levels of disengagement
in the upperbowl contrasts
greatly to the students in lower-
bowl seating, especially in the
bleachers, where students stand
for the duration of games.
Business senior Alex
Loewenstein echoed those
comments as the reason why,
after sitting mostly in the upper
bowllastyear, he opted to watch
the games fromhome this season.
"I can't justify to myself
spending two hours in line or
paying that much money when
I know I'm goingto sit in the
upper bowl," he said.
Central Student Government
President Michael Proppe, a
Business senior and season-
ticket holder himself, has made
the student experience at
sporting events a pivotal part of
his agenda. Though the general
admission policy for football
games has loomed larger on
campus, amatter reflected in
Proppe's conversations with
the Athletic Department and
in CSG meetings, the Crisler
r^"n"ndrm as r"r""A rmih+

his attention.
He and CSG Vice President
Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy
junior, have been gathering
data, not only on Maize Rage
attendance, which he said has
been "very high," but on where
Crisler's student section stacks
up against Big Ten competitors.
"It seems like right now we
are one of the smaller courtside
student sections in the Big Ten,"
Proppe said. "Given where our
program is at and the level of
student interest, I think the
evidence is pretty compelling
... that in the nextcyear or so,
expanding the lower-bowl
student section should be given
pretty serious consideration."
Still, though, Proppe
expressed caution that any
major change will be made in
the immediate future. While
smaller adjustments, such as
moving up the claim period
closer to the game dates, could
happen for next season, he
believes that it'll take at least
a couple more years of high
attendance figures "before they
start to re-seat the entire arena."
So while an expanded
bleacher section wrapping
around the arena is certainly
unrealistic in the next season
or two on the heels of the 2011
interior renovations to Crisler,
the Athletic Department can
choose to make short-term
adjustments, such as converting
current non-student sections
in the lower bowl to student
seating, much like the 250-seat
section 130.
"It's something that's ontheir
mind, but it's not being given a
super-serious look," Proppe said.
Following the win in East
Lansing, Brandon turned to a
Michigan State athletic official
and said, "I'm jealous" of the
"incredible" atmosphere he
witnessed - even in spite
of a Spartan loss. It was an
atmosphere Brandon would
certainly love to bring to
Ann Arbor, but is it enough
of a desire to come at the cost
of losing the Personal Seat
Donations - hefty charges in
addition to the per-game cost -
from non-student season ticket
holders in the lower bowl?
Only time will tell, but
Brandon's track record suggests
the answer is no. So while
the pockets of one of the
richest athletic departments
will continue to grow, so too
will student unrest with the
"I don't think there are too
many administrations out there
that care less about the student
experience," Rosenbaum said.
The message Brandon is
sending to the students - the
ones expected to be future
donors and season-ticket holders
- is clear, and it's not one
that can be soothed over with
preposterous attempts to flatter.
Because if the Athletic
Department wants to flaunt
the Maize wRage as the best
anything, it's high time it starts
treating its students like it.
Daniel Wasserman can be
reached atdwass@umich.edu
or on twitter @d.wasserman.

The Maize Rage is hindered by the seating arrangements, diminishing the Crisler Center atmosphere, writes Wasserman.







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