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Posted on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : noon

MSU alumni club members gracious in defeat...but critical of uniforms

By bob horning


The Crisler Center wasn't the only place Michigan and Michigan State fans were mixing it up on Sunday. Twenty five members of the Michigan State University Alumni Association took over Aubree's Pizzeria & Grill, surrounded by Michigan fans.

Melanie Maxwell |

Walking into Aubree’s Pizzeria & Grill on Whittaker Road in Ypsilanti for the UM-MSU basketball game, I didn’t know what to expect.

Certainly not the nostalgia; but I will explain that later.

I asked the manager, Kim Schulz, where the Spartans fans were, and, kidding, if they were causing trouble.

"No, they’re great," she said. "It’s good having them here. That’s what these games are about. They are right over there," pointing to a long table surrounded by several overhead televisions.

Fifteen people from the Washtenaw County chapter of the Michigan State University Alumni Association were there for the tip-off, and about 10 more would arrive during the game. I sat down and introduced myself. My shirt wasn’t quite the color of theirs, but at least it was olive green.

Randy and Beth Marshall and Matt and Donna Bentley were on either side of me. I asked for their prediction for the game.

"Based on the first game (MSU won 75-52), we should dominate," the Marshalls said. "But the way Michigan shoots (3-point baskets), you never know."

I could agree with that. It turned out that we all had it wrong.

Matt Bentley said, "I was nervous going into our first game, but this time I think we will win by four, even though it’s tough to win on the road."

He was close.

Later I talked to Dr. Rob Borer, who was there with his son, Robby. He said, "this game will be close. It could come down to fouls, free throws, and the last couple possessions."

If he is as good of a chiropractor as a prognosticator, I may start going to him.

Nobody in the whole group thought Michigan would win. Not a big surprise. They were confident in their team. There were no pre-game cheers or pep songs. Everyone was relatively quiet.

Until the first three points of the game by Adreian Payne. Spontaneous cheering filled the room. The other patrons looked around, shocked that a bunch of people were making noise for the wrong team.

During most of the first half, State lead, and was ahead 31-28 at the break. The general agreement of the MSU fans was "too many turnovers for us, too many points in the paint for them. But we are good at making half-time adjustments, so we are happy with the score." Not much concern.

During intermission, I learned a little about their group, the MSU Alumni Club of Washtenaw County. They meet on the first Thursday of the month, in March at The Ravens Club, 207 S. Main, from 6-9 p.m. Several of them mentioned their fundrasing activities and that all proceeds raised through their chapter go to benefit a scholarship endowment fund to aid Spartans from the Washtenaw County as they attend MSU.

Of the 25 State fans, there were about 10 women, so there was some passing of pictures of children on cell phones and some talk about meeting their husband while at school. But these ladies weren’t there to socialize. During the game, they were as intent as the men, and I heard just as much from them about turnovers, picks, and screens.

Also, at the half, I asked a couple UM fans at the bar what they thought of the MSU contingent.

"They’re annoying," they said, "clapping every time they score. Being invaded like this is horrible. This is not a Spartan arena." Both thought that UM was the better team and would win, despite trailing.

Now it’s true confession and nostalgia time. After my freshman year at the University of Michigan a half century ago, I transferred to East Lansing. Honestly. I majored in journalism and even covered basketball for the school paper. In my senior year, State finished second in the Big Ten. You would guess who was first if I told you that George Pomey, Larry Tregoning, Oliver Darden, and Bill Buntin -- oh yeah, and a guy named Cazzie Russell -- were on the team.

So that you don’t think too badly of me, I will tell you that I pulled for the Spartans in every game, except one. Having grown up in Ann Arbor, I never could make the complete transition. I also have three brothers who would have beaten me up.

Now back to the game.

When Michigan went up by seven points with ten minutes left, and by ten with five minutes left, things became quiet at the table. There was some moaning about the other team getting too many easy points inside. "They are playing our game."


Members of the Washtenaw County Michigan State University Alumni Association do not approve of the Michigan basketball team's "highlighter uniforms" as worn above by, from left to right, Trey Burke, Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Melanie Maxwell |

Randy Marshall summed up their disposition: "Bob, put in print that we hate their yellow highlighter uniforms. You can’t even see their numbers."

Then when State scored seven quick points, things changed. Donna Bentley started playing that familiar chant song with her silverware on a beer glass, and the others responded, "Let’s go State."

A bit later, two points down, Randy, who had been up pacing when the game tightened and the tension rose, started with a "Go, Green!" The others came back with "Go White!"

Well, we all know how it ended.

One of the Spartan fans gave his gut reaction to the loss. "Ball handling, ball handling, ball handling," he said. The stats proved him right. MSU had 18 turnovers to Michigan’s seven.

And Pam Aronow said, "Michigan didn’t win. We lost. Why didn’t they put Travis Trice in there? He hardly played the second half. If we played each other 10 times, we would win most of them."

I asked for quick predictions as to how far State would go in the NCAA tournament as everyone was leaving. Randy said they would make it to the sweet sixteen, Dr. Borer said maybe to the elite eight, and Mark Bentley said to the Final Four.

They thanked me for coming as they filed out, understandably disappointed.

I was impressed by them. Not angry and bitter as I might have been. Not profane at any time during the game when things looked bad and when they finally lost. They would make their school proud.

Bob Horning is a lifelong Ann Arbor resident who writes U-M sports human interest stories for If you have ideas for future columns, please email



Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

All greenies show envy. Face it. That's what they are and always will be. Michigan WON THE GAME!!!!! and didn't play like thugs (dawson). If there had been anywhere near decent officiating last night, the score would have been Michigan 70 state 60. izzo is creepy.

Fred Pettit

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

The yellow shoes drive me crazy!


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

So, how did the EMU fans feel about being "invaded" by U-M people at one of their watering holes? This was east of Carpenter Rd., after all. Are the U-M fans going to claim Canton as well? Novi? My gawd, where does it end?


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 9 p.m.

Kyle, you make me smile, too. You just try to get the great Michigan fans aggravated, but it's not working with me. You know why? You're just a troll, like the man said. I hope you have a swell day!!

Terry Star21

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

Thank you for being honest Lana, I was hoping it wasn't just me seeing that.......


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

I guarantee I pay more in taxes each year with my UM degree than Kyle makes with his sparty degree...that makes me smile.

Blue Marker

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Do you think the Lansing State Journal has an ex-wolverine on their staff to write about the "Michigan perspective"? Some how I doubt it.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

We forgive you. MSU did have a better journalism school in those days. Maybe even now?


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

U-M doesn't have a journalism school or even offer a journalism major. Just the school paper and some classes in the Comm Studies dept.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

A. Go Blue! B. The Maize Out uniforms are a-maize-ing! C. The shoes are dope. D. Chiropractors are not doctors and should not be referred to as such.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Yes, those gawdy yellow unifovms! Pretty bad. And, we wonder who was responsible for those cutesy shoes? How many thousands of dollars more does the Athletic Dept. have to waste like that?


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

I'm pretty sure adidas provides those.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

Have to agree that the neon yellow uniforms are hard on the eyes and made worse by having all the writing - players numbers, names, etc - barely a shade darker so they're illegible. I don't know who thought these uniforms up but they should be 'retired' asap. The game was a nail-biter. Michigan's 3-pointers were totally absent. Thank God for Trey Burke!


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

The era of the one-off uniform is here to stay, at least for now. Too much money in selling these things to the die-hard fans who just have to have everything.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

I cannot imagine Cazzie Russell in one of those clown suits.

Rob Pollard

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

To answer your question, Pete, Cazzie's uni looks comparatively great. You can easily tell he plays for Michigan and he's #33. Can't see the back, but I assume the name (if on there) is easy to read as well. It looks sharp and tailored. As far as the shorts, of course they would be out of place anytime later than 1991. But literally everyone wore them that way in the 1960-1980s - that's why they were called 'shorts.' While quite a few are doing silly jerseyz things like UM these days, plenty of people aren't going over the edge like UM-bball is.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

If any of the aforementioned players can take Michigan to back to back final fours and an NCAA final, then I will agree.

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Great minds think alike, Johnny.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

I can not imagine Trey Burke, Tim hardaway Jr or Glen Robinson III in this ridiculous get up

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Can you imagine Trey Burke in daisy dukes, high socks, low top Chuck Taylors and a form fitting jersey?

Rob Pollard

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

Those uniforms, from the yellow-on-yellow name plates, numbers, to the yellow shoes are ugly and worse, difficult to read. There are a ton of good options out there - whether it's white, blue or yellow (and it's definitely yellow, not maize) - and we seem to neglecting all of them with these Baylor/Oregon like atrocities. And I'm a Michigan fan.

Jenn McKee

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

My husband considered the game a "joyless victory," given how close it was after Michigan got blown out at Breslin. I disagreed - but I'll admit that I was again disappointed at U-M's seeming inability of late to finish strong as the game's end looms. Worried about how we'll do in the tourney at this point...


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Joyless?! Can he take joy in *anything?*


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

Love the uniforms. Love the CBS flag that's maize and blue. Bob, you're not the only one who's been around long enough to remember the Bill-Cazzie-Ollie days. Those were great, fun years and Yost was rocking!


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

I'll take a win in football and a split in basketball. Hockey is just a bonus. Hopefully we get a chance to take the season series in the B1G tourney.

Patty Bradley

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Great article. Really enjoyed it. GO STATE!


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

State went all the way home with their tails tucked underneath them! Really, Patty.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

The Michigan fans not being able to handle a little clapping and cheering doesn't surprise me. I was at the game yesterday and the guy at the end of my row got in a screaming match with a woman who he felt was standing up too much. Both Michigan fans, mind you.

Matt Lang

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

Kyle, you have that impartial journalist thing down to a science. Say what you want about Drew Sharp of the Free Press, but he is a UM grad and is as tough on UM as he is on MSU.

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

Ease up on Kyle everyone. I'll have you all know that he attended the game and our work indoor soccer game with only missing the first five minutes despite the 6:30 p.m. start time. That's dedication.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

BenK- I hope you're having a great day today!


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Kyle you are what they call a troll. I enjoyed watching 3 Spartan fans getting escorted out of Crisler by cops in the second half. Smile, nod, and say to myself "seems about right."

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

You guys make me smile.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

Anyone who yells "down in front" at a premier college basketball game needs to go home and watch it on TV. Our arena is pretty lame still.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

Your team lost, Kyle. Get over yourself.

Blue Marker

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

No openings in East Lansing?

John of Saline

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Those uniforms are weird. Low-contrast.

Blue Marker

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

You're being kind. They're flat-out ugly. If the kids like them I guess that's great. But this old guy thinks they're the worst uniform I've ever seen on Michigan basketball.

Blue Marker

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

Pam Aronow said, "Michigan didn't win. We lost." What ever you have to tell yourself Pam to get through the night.

Matt Lang

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

Eh, you win or lose, period. She's not kinda right


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

@ Ross, MSU had a 7 point lead. Was that MSU losing or UM TAKING it. It goes both ways.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

eh, she's kinda right. Michigan gave up the 10 pt lead to end the second half, but MSU didn't even get a shot up when they had a chance to win it. That many turnovers is deadly.