Seen and heard
at Crisler Center
Big shoes filled
Mark Lyons might be off ballin’ in France these days, but his spirit made it to Crisler Center just in time for the Arizona Wildcats.
When Nick Johnson stepped up to the free-throw line with 24 seconds left and Michigan leading by one, his first thought wasn’t about those maize pompoms, the pressure, the cameras or anything else.
He just remembered what his old backcourt mate would do.
You know, the way Lyons won a game against San Diego State at the free-throw line and provided many clutch highlights during his one season with the Wildcats.
“I thought about him,” Johnson said. “A few games last year, it was tied or we’d be down, and he went to score and drew a foul. He’d get to the line and hit free throws.”
So Johnson hit the first two. Then the next two. And two more, over the next 17 seconds.
While the vocal Arizona fan contingent inside Crisler was proof again that UA alums and fans live all over the country, Kevin Kreide has taken things to an extreme.
He lives in Lexington, Ky.
And works for the University of Kentucky.
And has season tickets for those Wildcats.
But the 1989 UA graduate says his first allegiance is with Arizona and he proved it by driving up to Ann Arbor in cold and snow for Saturday’s game along with 9-year-old son London.
Kreide says he doesn’t take too much flak for that allegiance around his place either.
“I always tell them I’m always rooting for Kentucky, except when they play Arizona,” Kreide said.
Like when Arizona won the 1997 national championship game, beating Kentucky 84-79.
The Arizona donors who traveled for Saturday’s game didn’t have to worry about dealing with Michigan fans while out on the town Friday.
They rented out an entire restaurant.
“We sang ‘Bear Down,’ ” UA athletic director Greg Byrne said.
To join the boosters for what was the annual travel-with-the-team trip, Byrne had to race straight to Michigan from Shreveport, La.,
where he and UA football coach
Rich Rodriguez were kicking off
promotional festivities for the
AdvoCare V100 Bowl.
You could say it was a worthwhile diversion. After the game, Byrne and a few boosters sat in the postgame locker room and prepared to travel home.
“That was a fun locker room to be in,” Byrne said.
Speaking of RichRod, guess who was to be given the game ball Saturday?
According to UA basketball’s official Twitter account, that would be the UA football coach, who was fired by Michigan following the 2010 season.
Among the 21 NBA scouts on hand Wednesday was Jeff Feld, a former video coordinator and administrator for the Wildcats who now works for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It was the first time Feld has seen the Wildcats since he left UA in the summer of 2012.
“It is kind of nostalgic,” Feld said.
Feld, who scouts mostly college teams in the Midwest, works with former UA guard Bret Brielmaier, a Cavs assistant coach.
He said it
“We leave here obviously very excited and knowing that this is as quality of a win as you can have in my opinion in the country.”
— UA coach Sean Miller
The big number
Years since Michigan has beaten a top-ranked team
Little big house
While the snow outside the Crisler Center appeared to make for a late-arriving crowd Saturday, the atmosphere slowly built.
UM gave out free pompoms, and the noise level reached a peak in the final two minutes of the close-fought game, before Arizona pulled out its two-point win.
“Hopefully it will be this way at home nine times in the Big Ten,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.