That’s the word associate head coach Phil Marteri used Friday to describe the energy surrounding the intrastate rivalry between the Michigan men’s basketball team and Michigan State University.
“It’s a lot more exciting than I thought,” said Marteri. “It’s obvious.”
With neither team ranked for the first duel of the season, this could just be one of the Big Ten Conference games.
But it’s not.
It’s a contentious rivalry, responsible for emotional and homeland ties. And this year’s competition is no exception. Both Wolverine and Sparta have chips on their shoulders and have something to prove.
Fans flood the Breslin Center and the energy radiating to TV screens and living rooms will be visible across the country. Matches have a physical presence that has an undeniable impact on the players and coaches fighting rival wars.
Michigan continues to perform well, defeating two conference opponents and currently leading the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Michigan State is wrapping up his five-game homestand, and after winning his first four games, he’s looking for one more.
“(Thursday) you may have felt a little nervous when you started getting ready,” said graduate security guard Joey Baker. “…you really want to beat guys on the road. ”
But not just this season, Saturday’s game means a lot more. The Wolverines have not won at Breslin in his four years. Since 1998, the East has won only three away games with his 21 tries at Lansing.
And Wolverine is clearly aware of that. It facilitates an approach to competitive confrontation.
Associate head coach Phil Marteri said, “Go into it with a boxer mentality.” “And there is no boxer who doesn’t step into his fight and think in his head, ‘I’m going to get hit.’ it won’t work. And at that point they have two options. they can cover up. They can either hide and be frightened or (they) fight back. “
Michigan wants to fight back. We want to maintain our new dominance in the Big Ten. He hopes to hold onto his bragging rights, at least until the Spartans come to Crisler later this season.
The Wolverines know it won’t be easy. With a significant roster turnover from last season, most players on the team have never experienced a rivalry matchup before. But Breslin is almost impossible to imitate the palpable energy of his center.
When asked about the team’s practice plans, particularly freshman guard Doug McDaniel’s ability to manage the rivalry as the new starting point guard, Martelli was quick to point out the impossibility.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever played on a court that wobbles as he dribbles the ball off the floor,” Martelli said. “Like, how do you prepare? How do you tell someone it’s true? But it’s true.”
That inexperience can be costly for Michigan. The Wolverines may return to the pattern they had during their worst loss of the season to Central Michigan.
But for players like junior center Hunter Dickinson and junior forward Terrance Williams II, who have experienced rivalries and embraced a boxing mentality, they are hungry for victory. begin to rewrite the legacy of the records of
“I didn’t expect to walk in and get an ovation,” Dickinson said of the rivalry after beating Penn State Wednesday. “They don’t like us and they don’t like us. We didn’t go there expecting Kumbaya with our fans.”
Saturday’s matchup is the best of college basketball. It’s a rivalry that both fans and players live by. With a boxer mentality, the Wolverines believe they have found the gateway to victory.
The Spartans will hit, and they will hit hard. They will harness the manifest energy of the Breslin Center, as they have done many times before. What matters most to Michigan is how they respond. Will they fold or punch back?
Martelli believes the odds are in his team’s favor.
“I’m betting on fighting back.”