February 19, 2013
By Dave Brandon | Courtesy MGoBlue.com, Brandon’s Blog
A celebration of Michigan athletic excellence was in full bloom.
The U-M basketball letterwinners returned, the Hall of Honor inductees took center stage, and Michigan basketball was at its best throughout the weekend as Crisler Center was dedicated Sunday (Feb. 17) as part of a spectacular weekend of activities.
It was a celebration of a great tradition and a showcase of what the future holds for the University of Michigan Athletic Department.
What has taken place at Crisler Center is more than just an expansion and facelift of a basketball facility. This project has transformed what was formerly Crisler Arena into a center of activity and a celebration of everything we do at Michigan Athletics.
The new practice facilities provide the men’s and women’s basketball teams with arguably the best accommodations in the sport. Not only are the William Davidson Player Development Center amenities outstanding, the additional courts now allow the men’s and women’s teams to practice at the same time.
Even though that might not seem like a big deal, it is a major point when you consider the academic impact it will have on both teams. Before the William Davidson PDC was built, practice for one team had to start as early as 1:30 p.m. The ability to schedule classes later in the day provides the student-athletes much more flexibility and a better opportunity to have more academic interactions with the general student body.
Crisler Center is now the new home to the Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor. In fact, it is the first home of the Hall of Honor! Since the HOH inducted its first class in 1979, the members were not celebrated in a public way. Besides printed media guides and then later the Internet, there was no physical location for these U-M greats to be honored and have their talents and accomplishments displayed.
Now, the Hall of Honor has a physical presence, a location in Crisler Center that will highlight and recognize our honorees. Saturday night’s enshrinement of Gustavo Borges (swimming), Brendan Morrison (ice hockey) and posthumously Rob Lytle (football) was the first ceremony for Wolverine inductees who will be honored in the new home of the Hall of Honor. For their families, friends and teammates, the ability to see and read about the past Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor inductees gave everyone the pride of knowing the names Borges, Morrison and Lytle are now a part of this special group.
In addition, each of our 29 teams now has a presence in Crisler Center. Using touchscreen technology, current and historical information on each team is located around the concourse and will provide a great deal of interesting information on all of our varsity sports.
This past weekend gave our former Michigan basketball players a firsthand look at the legacy of what they and others have built to help make the men’s and women’s programs the success we see today. And with the women’s team defeating Michigan State and the men knocking off Penn State, our success on the court made the weekend even sweeter.
Crisler Arena was “The House That Cazzie Built,” replacing Yost Field House. Of course, Yost was built in 1924 and the Wolverines played basketball there for 43 years until 1967.
Crisler Arena opened on Dec. 2, 1967, when Michigan hosted Kentucky. Just over two months later Crisler was formally dedicated on Feb. 27, 1968. Now 45 years later, U-M again dedicates itself to the future with Crisler Center.
Looking at the waterfall, the interior design, the interactive displays for all sports, the Hall of Honor plus so much more, one can dream but probably cannot imagine what the next center for Michigan basketball will look like in another 50 years.
What we do know is that venue will also be built on the shoulders of those Michigan men and women who have made U-M one of the greatest academic and athletic institutions in the country.