2021-22 Season

Michigan’s bench provides crucial lift in statement win over Spartans

Four hours before the game started, the Michigan basketball team walked out of the tunnel connecting the locker rooms to the arena.

Phil Martelli stopped for a moment and turned to his team, every player there.

The game before, against Illinois, had left an empty feeling. Even the curt, pained responses during the post-game interviews could convey the players’ disappointment after that emotional defeat.

On Monday, Michigan’s only prep day between games, Martelli noted that right then, he could still tell there were still lingering feelings of hurt and disappointment. He was worried it would affect them against Michigan State.

But as the players shifted through the narrow tunnel, making their way to the court to warm up for Tuesday night’s rematch, Martelli saw the look in each player’s eyes, not just the regular contributors on the team, but the players who had smaller roles or weren’t expected to play. He saw their equal expression. His concerns were swept away.

“We’re good,” he said. “We’re good.”

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