Less than 15 minutes after Michigan beat Michigan State, 60-59, last month in Ann Arbor -- beating the Spartans for the third straight time -- Michigan State forward Draymond Green had enough.
"They won three. Before that, how many how had they won?" Green said. "They got their little three, but they come to East Lansing in a few weeks," Green said on Jan. 17. " They better celebrate this one, because I can guarantee you they won’t get one in East Lansing. You can quote me on that one."
Michigan's players heard about the guarantee. They absorbed it. And, in some ways, they laughed it off.
"We're definitely aware. Everybody is aware. The whole state is aware," sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said. "That's how he feels and it's a free country, you can say whatever you want. We know he is going to come out there and play hard and they are going to give their most effort.
"And we're going to give our best effort."
Michigan's players will use that among other things to motivate them Sunday afternoon -- but it won't be their big concern. They are in the Big Ten title hunt as well.
"We know how important this game is for the Big Ten race and the big picture," senior guard Stu Douglass said. "It's not us against Draymond's words."
TIM HARDAWAY JR.
On winning there last year helped: "If you win at any Big Ten school, that gives you the most confidence. Especially when you win on the road. That just sets the tone for you for the rest of the season."
On whether he expects Green to play: "We expect him 110 percent. The mind can do unbelievable things. He is going to block that pain out and go out and play as hard as he can."
How they limit Green: "Not giving him anything. Coach (John) Beilein does a great job of trying to figure out the offensive tendencies of who they like to go to the most and Draymond being that guy, he's very talented and very aggressive and try to do the best we can to keep the ball out of his hands."
On Novak's outburst last year: "Yeah, everybody (remembers). Dave Brandon had the best response about it, that he was taking on his teammates. It's very hard for a captain to do that and once a captain to do that, it's on his teammates to respond. Seeing him that emotional, we took on that challenge."
Hardaway, though, declined to say what Novak said. Not because he didn't remember but "it's rated R."
On the rivalry: "It's back the way it should be. Really competitive. The games have been really close. Thankfully we've come out on the right side of it the last couple times."
Michigan ends each practice this season by saying "Big Ten champs." This is a change from last season, when Michigan said "NCAAs." The reason: "Our whole team established that goal early on and it is the next step to take as a program."
On his outburst last season: "Yeah, it's funny. My favorite is that everyone is trying to guess what I was saying. There would be articles saying I said 'We need to focus and everyone give your best.' That's not what I was saying. I don't think anybody could print what I was saying. I'll just leave it at that."
On guarding Green: "He's a really good player. He has a unique combination of size and skill and passes the ball real well."