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Michigan Basketball: 5 Pieces of Trivia Every Wolverines Fan Should Know

Zach DirlamSenior Analyst IIAugust 14, 2013

Michigan Basketball: 5 Pieces of Trivia Every Wolverines Fan Should Know

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    In spite of its struggles during the early 2000s, the Michigan basketball program has plenty of history behind it. There are plenty of trivia questions one could ask about the Wolverines and their successes in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    Some could even reach all the way back to the earliest years of college basketball and ask a great question. 

    The following five questions, though, are not meant to be brain-busters. In fact, everyone considering himself/herself a Michigan fan should have no problems coming up with the correct answers.

What Is the Crisler Center's Nickname?

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    Although the Michigan Wolverines home floor is officially known as the Crisler Center, it goes by another name more often than not. The House that Cazzie Built. 

    This nickname has been bestowed upon the arena in honor of former Michigan great Cazzie Russell.

    From 1964-66, Russell and the Wolverines won three straight Big Ten Conference titles. Michigan also advanced to the Final Four in 1964 and 1965. None of this would have been possible without Russell. The fabled small forward was a consensus second team All-American in 1964 and a first team selection in 1965 and 1966. 

    As a senior, Russell was named the Associated Press Player of the Year and Sporting News Player of the Year. Former point guard Trey Burke is the only other Wolverine to receive either of those honors.

    Once his career in Ann Arbor concluded, Russell moved on to the NBA, where he became the No. 1 pick in the 1966 draft. Russell played professionally until 1981.

    In the newly-renovated Crisler Center, an entire wall is dedicated to Russell. Right in the middle lies the phrase, "The House that Cazzie Built."

    "That was a nice surprise and a wonderful gesture," Russell told Nick Baumgardner of MLive. "A lot of thought goes into that, a lot of great players played with me and you look at something like that and you remember winning the Big Ten three straight years, going to the Final Four ... it's a great arena."

Which 1920s All-American Went on to Coach Football and Basketball at Michigan?

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    The answer to this trivia question is none other than two-time All-American Bennie Oosterbaan. There is no arguing Oosterbaan is one of the greatest athletes to ever don the Maize and Blue.

    From 1925-28, the Muskegon High School alum dominated on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond for the Michigan Wolverines. On the hardwood, Oosterbaan led the Big Ten in scoring (178 points) as a senior, which earned him All-American honors for a second consecutive season. At the time, Richard Doyle was the only other player in Michigan history to garner All-American honors.

    Simultaneously, Oosterbaan was a three-time All-American for the Wolverines' football team.

    Oosterbaan could have turned professional in either sport. According to Michigan's Bentley Historical Library, though, he "joined the Michigan football and basketball coaching staffs immediately after graduation."

    After toiling as an assistant for a decade, Oosterbaan became head coach of the basketball program. However, not much went right during his tenure. The Wolverines never finished better than fifth in the Big Ten Conference and went just 81-72 from 1938-1946.

    In the two years that followed, Oosterbaan remained an assistant coach on the football staff. Come 1948, Oosterbaan took the reigns from Fritz Crisler. Success immediately followed.

    Michigan won a national championship in Oosterbaan's first campaign and followed it up with back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1949 and 1950. His final eight years as head coach did not go as well. This led to Oosterbaan's resignation in 1958.

    Still, the former three-spot star is regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of Michigan athletics.

Who Is the Only Wolverine to Win the Wooden Award?

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    Every year since the 1976-77 campaign, the John R. Wooden Award is presented to "the outstanding collegiate basketball Player of the Year." 

    Several talented players came and went through the Michigan basketball program since the trophy's inception. Not one proved to be dynamic enough to win the award. At least until Trey Burke turned in a season for the ages in 2012-13.

    The Ohioan averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists per game as a sophomore. Burke is also responsible for making two of the most memorable plays in college basketball this past season.

    steal-and-dunk in the final 30 seconds against Michigan State kept the Wolverines in the Big Ten Conference title race until their final game. Knocking down a 30-footer with less than 10 seconds remaining in the Sweet 16 against Kansas propelled Burke and Michigan to the national title game.

    Hopefully, it will not be another 36 years before a Wolverine wins the coveted award.

    Every year since the 1976-77 campaign, the John R. Wooden Award is presented to "the outstanding collegiate basketball Player of the Year." 

    Several talented players came and went through the Michigan basketball program since the trophy's inception. Not one proved to be dynamic enough to win the award. At least until Trey Burke turned in a season for the ages in 2012-13.

    The Ohioan averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists per game as a sophomore. Burke is also responsible for making two of the most memorable plays in college basketball this past season.

    steal-and-dunk in the final 30 seconds against Michigan State kept the Wolverines in the Big Ten Conference title race until their final game. Knocking down a 30-footer with less than 10 seconds remaining in the Sweet 16 against Kansas propelled Burke and Michigan to the national title game.

    Hopefully, it will not be another 36 years before another Wolverine wins the coveted award.

Everything About the 1989 National Championship

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    Arguably the proudest moment in the history of Michigan basketball came in 1989. Despite garnering a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Wolverines were not exactly being pegged as a Final Four team. It did not matter.

    Michigan went on to "shock the world" and capture the program's only national championship.

    Everything started with the untimely firing of head coach Bill Frieder. Only days prior to Michigan's postseason clash with Xavier, Frieder announced he would be leaving for Arizona State at the end of the campaign. 

    Athletic director Bo Schembechler decided to make a change right then and there. Frieder was out and assistant coach Steve Fisher would take over for the NCAA tournament. 

    "A Michigan man will coach a Michigan team," Schembechler said.

    No one could have foreseen what would happen next. The Wolverines toppled Xavier 92-87, held off eleventh-seeded South Alabama in the round of 32 and upset North Carolina 92-87 in the Sweet 16. A 102-65 drubbing of Virginia sent Michigan to its first Final Four since 1976.

    Once there, the Wolverines knocked out Big Ten foe Illinois in an 83-81 nail-biter.

    Michigan met Seton Hall in the National Championship Game. Trailing by a point in overtime, Rumeal Robinson drew a foul with three seconds remaining. Robinson stepped to the charity-stripe and knocked down a pair of free-throws to put the Wolverines up 80-79 and win the game.

    Glen Rice and Michigan set numerous NCAA tournament records during the title run. Rice scored 184 points in the six games. No one has topped his 75 field goals and 27 three-pointers either.

     

Who Were the Members of the Fab Five?

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    Five highly touted recruits coming together to play for one school was unheard of in the 1990s, unless you're a fan of the Michigan Wolverines.

    Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King, Jalen Rose and Chris Webber all came to Ann Arbor in the summer of 1991. Shortly thereafter, the group took the college basketball world by storm. They became known as The Fab Five.

    During the two years all of The Fab Five remained intact, Michigan appeared in back-to-back national championship games. Webber's infamous timeout in the 1993 contest cost the Wolverines their best shot at a title in the past two decades.

    Webber turned pro at the end of the 1993 campaign, but the rest of The Fab Five returned. Without Webber, Michigan still managed to make a run to the Elite Eight in 1994. Howard and Rose were the next two members of the group to declare for the NBA draft.

    A first-round exit in the 1995 NCAA tournament ended The Fab Five era.

    Scandal aside, The Fab Five made an important cultural impact on the game of college basketball.

    "If you look at college basketball today, what has endured?" Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press said in ESPN Films' documentary. "They changed the way college basketball looked."

    One cannot be a Michigan basketball fan without knowing the members of The Fab Five and what they accomplished together. 

     

     

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