Feb. 15, 2007
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State will honor the 1957 and 1959 men's basketball teams at halftime of the MSU-Iowa game on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. The 1956-57 Spartans won MSU's first Big Ten Championship and advanced to the first of six Final Fours in school history. The 1958-59 squad captured the school's second Big Ten Championship. Approximately 15 former players, including three-time All-American Johnny Green, are expected to be in town for the game.
In 1956-57, Michigan State opened the season with a 4-7 record, including dropping the first three league games. The Spartans responded by winning 10 straight, en route to a 10-4 league record and a share of the school's first-ever Big Ten title. MSU opened the NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Ky., defeating Notre Dame, 85-83, and No. 3 Kentucky, 80-68, in its hometown to advance to the first Final Four in Spartan history. The Final Four was held in Kansas City, Mo., and MSU opened against No. 1 North Carolina, falling 74-70 in triple overtime. One day later, MSU lost to San Francisco, 67-60, in the consolation game. The Spartans finished the season with a 16-10 mark, ranked No. 11 by The Associated Press and No. 7 by UPI.
The '57 Spartans were led by a pair of All-Americans, junior Jack Quiggle and Green, a sophomore. Both players also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. Quiggle led all scorers with 15.3 ppg, while Green averaged 13.2 points and 14.6 rebounds. Junior Larry Hedden added 14.3 points and senior George Ferguson tallied 13.1 points and was named MVP in a vote by his teammates. In the postseason, Green earned All-Tournament honors, totaling 77 rebounds in four games (19.3 rpg). He also was named to the All-Regional Team along with Quiggle.
Two years later, Michigan State rolled to the 1959 Big Ten title with a 12-2 league record. The Spartans opened the NCAA Tournament with a 74-69 win over Marquette, but fell a game short of the Final Four with an 88-81 loss to Louisville. MSU finished the season with a 19-4 overall record and a No. 3 ranking in the UPI and No. 7 by The Associated Press.
Green closed his Spartan career on a strong note, averaging 18.5 points and 16.6 rebounds as a senior in 1959, earning All-America honors for the third-straight season. He was also named the recipient of the Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball award. Fellow senior Bob Anderegg led MSU with 19.5 ppg, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. Junior Horace Walker averaged 13.3 points and 13.5 rebounds, one season before earning All-America honors of his own. In two NCAA Tournament games, Green averaged 21.5 points and 20.5 rebounds.