March 5, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior forward Draymond Green was selected Big Ten Player of the Year by the league's media and coaches, the conference office announced Monday, March 5. Tom Izzo was selected Coach of the Year by the coaches and media.
Green was also named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team by the league's coaches. Sophomore guard Keith Appling earned third-team all-conference honors, while freshman Branden Dawson found a spot on the All-Freshman team and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from the league's media.
For Izzo, it is the third Big Ten Coach of the Year honor of his career, having previously been honored in 1998 and 2009. Green is the first Spartan to earn Player of the Year honors since Kalin Lucas was honored in 2009. He is the seventh Spartan to earn Big Ten Player of the Year honors, joining Jay Vincent (1981), Scott Skiles (1986), Shawn Respert (1995), Mateen Cleaves (1998, 1999 - coaches), Morris Peterson (2000 - coaches) and Lucas (2009).
Izzo guided a team that was not ranked in the preseason Top 25 to a 13-5 conference record, capturing a share of the Big Ten title. For Izzo, it was the seventh Big Ten Championship of his career, ranking fifth all-time among league coaches. The Spartans entered the season with just two players who averaged more than 20 minutes per game in 2010-11. After starting the season 0-2 with neutral site losses to No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Duke, Michigan State won 15 straight games to vault into the Top 10. MSU opened conference play with four wins, but dropped three of its next five. Standing at 6-3 in league play, Izzo guided the Spartans to seven straight conference wins to grab a share of the league title. This year's Spartan squad has displayed the staples of all great Izzo teams: rebounding and defense. MSU leads the Big Ten in all games in rebound margin (+8.8) and field-goal percentage defense (.376).
"I think this award is a team award because if the players didn't do what they did, the coaches wouldn't get the credit," Izzo said. "There are a lot of great coaches in this league this year and they are just as deserving as I am. I just thank God that I've got the right players that helped us become a championship team. If the team does well, the individual awards will come and this year is a perfect example of that.
"I thought there were a lot of other worthy candidates for Coach of the Year. I thought Tom Crean did an incredible job putting his Indiana team on the biggest upswing from last year. John Beilein has done a great job at Michigan and I think Fran McCaffery has done an incredible job at Iowa. If you look at all the coaches, I could make arguments for all of them. It isn't always about winning a championship, and I think there were a lot of great coaches this year. I guess I was just lucky enough to win."
"It's only his third time winning it?" Green said. "I thought it would be his seventh or something. That just goes to show how good his teams are. It all starts with Coach, he is the head of our program and for him to bring this program and this team together like he has, he is definitely deserving of this award."
Green is the only player to rank in the Top 10 in the Big Ten in scoring (6th), rebounding (1st) and assists (9th). He leads the Spartans in scoring (16.2 ppg), rebounding (10.3 rpg), steals (47), and 3-point field goals (45), while ranking second in assists (3.5 apg) and blocks (28). He's led MSU in rebounding in 25 of 31 games, including 16 of the 18 Big Ten contests. In five of the final 11 games of the season, Green led the Spartans in scoring, rebounding and assists. Further demonstrating his versatility, Green leads the nation with five games of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. He paces the conference and ranks among the Top 10 nationally with 17 double-doubles. He's on track to become the first player from a power six conference to average 15 points, 10 rebounds and three assists since Tim Duncan (Wake Forest) did it in 1997.
When his career is over, Green will have solidified his spot in the Spartan record books. He currently ranks third in MSU career rebounding with 1,020 boards, trailing only Greg Kelser (1,092) and Johnny Green (1,036). Green also ranks in the top five in career blocks (2nd - 109) and career steals (3rd - 173). He is just the fourth player in Michigan State history with 1,000 career rebounds, and the third Spartan with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
"If an individual award is voted on by the coaches and the media, that is the ultimate compliment for a player because it shows how valuable you are," Izzo said. "When people vote on something like that, they look at scoring, rebounding, assists and leadership. There were a lot of great candidates for Player of the Year. I thought Jared Sullinger and Jordan Taylor were both very good, but I thought what Draymond did for his team made him most deserving, although I'm biased. I'm very proud of him and I'm happy for him. He joins some elite athletes from Michigan State who have previously won the Player of the Year award."
"Coming into the season, being named Player of the Year was something that Coach Izzo and I had talked about, but everyone thought it would be Jared Sullinger," Green said. "Usually the best player on the best team gets a lot of publicity, and as we got better and started to win more games, I started getting thrown into that conversation. As my play started getting better, it became more of a realistic goal to have. It was a goal I set because I like to set goals, but it seemed so far out of reach coming into the season.
"Winning the Big Ten Championship was an incredible accomplishment, even though we had to share it. I'm also proud that I'm a leader of this team and we were able to come together and accomplish as much as we have with such young players. One of my biggest honors is to say that I was on the team that got this program back to where we are used to being and that I helped raise this program up even more."
Green was the only player to be a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten first team, where he is joined by Northwestern's John Shurna, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, Purdue's Robbie Hummel, Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor (coaches only) and Penn State's Tim Frazier (media only). The All-Defensive Team honor is the first of his career, as he becomes just the fourth Spartan to receive that honor since the award's inception in 2006, joining Shannon Brown (2006), Travis Walton (2007, 2008, 2009) and Delvon Roe (2011). As chosen by the league's coaches, Green is joined on the All-Defensive Team by Indiana's Victor Oladipo, Ohio State's Aaron Craft, Penn State's Tim Frazier and Wisconsin's Josh Gasser. Craft was named Defensive Player of the Year.
This is the third-straight season Green has earned all-conference honors. He was a third-team honoree in 2010 and 2011 and was a unanimous selection for the 2010 Sixth Man of the Year award.
Appling earns the first All-Big Ten honors of his career, having been named to the third team by both the league's coaches and media. He ranks second on the team in scoring (11.5 ppg) and paces the Spartans in assists (3.8 apg), having made the transformation from the wing to the point this season. He also excels on the defensive end, usually guarding the opponent's top perimeter scorer. He ranks second on the team in steals (38).
Dawson earned a spot on the All-Freshman team by ranking third on the team in scoring (8.4 ppg), and second in rebounding (4.5 rpg). He scored in double figures in 12 contests, with MSU posting a 10-2 mark in those games. In conference games, he ranked third in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.584) and sixth in offensive rebounds (2.1 orpg). He joins Shannon Brown (2004), Drew Neitzel (2005), Raymar Morgan (2007) and Delvon Roe (2009) as members of the All-Freshman Team since the honor's beginning in 2003.
He is joined on the All-Freshman Team by Indiana's Cody Zeller, Iowa's Aaron White, Michigan's Trey Burke, and Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski. Zeller was named Freshman of the Year by the coaches, while Burke earned the honor from the media. His play also earned him honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from the league's media.