Appling leads Spartans in scoring with 16 points.
MSU looking for 36th straight home opening win.
MSU men's basketball will feature many new faces this season.
AP Photos: Basketball vs. Wisconsin
Last season, Fife helped guide Denzel Valentine to National Player of the Year honors, while Bryn Forbes earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors. Valentine was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the lottery of the 2016 NBA Draft, while Forbes signed a free-agent contract with the San Antonio Spurs. On the court, MSU led the nation in assists per game (20.5), while setting school single-season records for assists (719) and made 3-pointers (321).
One year earlier, Travis Trice and Valentine earned All-Big Ten honors. In 2013-14, Gary Harris earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors and was selected in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, one season after becoming the first Spartan to ever be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Keith Appling and Valentine were honorable mention honorees in 2014. For Appling, who entered MSU as a shooting guard, he earned All-Big Ten honors three straight seasons after developing as a point guard.
Fife also brings the defensive intensity he possessed as a player to his role as a coach, as the Spartans have held opponents below a .400 field-goal percentage in each of the last five years, including ranking second nationally in both 2015-16 (.382) and in 2011-12 (.379), marking the best effort by MSU since 1959. He is also instrumental in MSU’s scouting and recruiting efforts. A May 2014 article by Jeff Goodman and Jay Bilas at ESPN.com listed Fife among the top head coaching candidates in the nation.
Prior to his arrival in East Lansing, he spent six seasons as head coach at IPFW. In each of his six seasons, IPFW tied or broke its record for wins at the Division I level, as Fife guided the Mastodons from Independent status to membership in the Summit League. He posted an 82-97 record, including a 34-27 mark over the last two seasons, and a four-year mark of 37-35 in conference. In his final season of 2010-11, IPFW finished with an 18-12 record, including an 11-7 record in the Summit League and secured the No. 4 seed in the Summit League Tournament, the program’s highest seed ever in four years of conference membership.
A 2002 graduate of Indiana University, Fife led the Hoosiers to the 2002 National Title game and a share of the regular-season Big Ten Championship. Individually, he was named co-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He is the Indiana career leader with 180 steals over the course of his four-year career (1998-2002), while the 53 he recorded as a senior rank tied for the eighth-best single-season mark at IU. With 99 career 3-pointers, he ranks among the top 20 in school history, while his .478 3-point field-goal percentage in 2001-02 ranks sixth on IU’s single-season chart. The 37 games he started as a senior established the Indiana single-season mark, while the 131 games in which he played over the course of his career rank tied for sixth all-time at IU.
In 2005, Fife was named head coach at IPFW, becoming the youngest head coach in Division I basketball at just 25 years old. He held that distinction for five seasons. In his first season, Fife took over a program that had never posted double-digit wins and won 10 games, improving on that total every subsequent season. The 2007-08 season was IPFW’s first as a member of the Summit League, as the Mastodons finished their first league slate at 9-9 and secured the school’s first-ever conference tournament bid, and win (66-62 vs. Southern Utah). In 2008-09, Fife coached forward Deilvez Yearby, the 2009 Summit League Sixth Man of the Year. As a team, the Mastodons also had signature wins, topping two-time defending league champion Oral Roberts and handing Valparaiso its worst home defeat in 11 years (63-46). Fife’s 2009-10 squad became the first Mastodon team to produce a winning season (16-15). IPFW was 9-9 in league play, and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament. Fife mentored three all-conference performers, including Jaraun Burrows (2008, 2nd Team), Deilvez Yearby (2010, 2nd Team) and Ben Botts (2011, 2nd Team).
Prior to becoming head coach at IPFW, Fife was a member of Mike Davis’ staff for two years at Indiana, serving as an administrative assistant.
Fife was the Gary Steelheads’ first round pick in the 2002 CBA Draft and started five of the 34 games in which he played, averaging 3.4 points.
A 1998 graduate of Clarkston (Mich.) High School, Fife was the recipient of the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award in 1998. He was also a McDonald’s and Parade All-America selection, while playing for his father Dan.
He owns two degrees from Indiana, earning a bachelor’s degree in recreation (2002) and a master’s degree in athletic administration (2005). His family includes his wife Blair and daughters Quinnly and Reagan.