March 9, 2013
THE OPENING TIP
The Last Meeting
January 14, 2012
Michigan State closes the regular season with its lone game of the year against Northwestern. The Spartans and Wildcats have not met since Jan. 14, 2012. Following the game, Derrick Nix
and six student managers will be recognized in Senior Day ceremonies. The Spartans are looking to close out an impressive season at home, where they are 16-1, including 15-1 at Breslin Center.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. Senior Day
Derrick Nix is the lone senior on the Spartan squad, and will be honored during Senior Day ceremonies following Sunday's contest. Six senior student managers (Adam Clark, T.J. Hurley, Alexander Kruse, Christopher Kruse, Geoff Laporte, Zach Peterson) will also be recognized. Entering Sunday's game, Nix has 744 career points (5.6 ppg) and 464 career rebounds (3.5 rpg). He has certainly shown great improvement over the course of his career, averaging 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds as a senior, after averaging just 2.3 points and 2.1 boards as a freshman. He's also shown dramatic improvement at the foul line, shooting .743 this season, after having shot just .271 as a freshman. Over the course of his career, MSU is 99-39, and Nix has been a part of Spartan Big Ten Championship teams in 2010 and 2012, and three NCAA Tournament squads, including starting as a freshman at the 2010 Final Four.
2. Been A Long Time
In a schedule quirk, Michigan State and Northwestern are playing for the first time this season on the final day of the regular season. In fact, they are playing for the first time since Jan. 14, 2012. The Spartans have played 30 regular-season Big Ten games since the last game against the Wildcats. This is the first time since 1994 that MSU will play its only game against a Big Ten opponent in the final game of the regular season.
3. A Late Closer
March 10 is the latest the Spartans have played the regular-season finale since the inception of the Big Ten Tournament in 1998. In 2008, MSU played Ohio State on March 9 in the last game of the conference season. The last time MSU played a regular-season game on March 10 was in 1996 at Indiana.
4. Success At Breslin
Michigan State is 326-46 (.876) at home all-time since Breslin Center opened in 1989, including 170-35 (.829) in Big Ten play. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 252-31 (.890) at Breslin, including a 129-22 (.854) conference record. MSU has won 33 of the last 35 games at Breslin.
5. MSU In March
Michigan State is 69-28 (.711) in March since the 1998-99 season. For his career, Tom Izzo is 76-35 (.685) in March. Over the last four-plus years, MSU is 23-8 in what Coach Izzo calls his favorite month of the year.
MSU VS. NORTHWESTERN NOTES
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 81-38, including a 46-8 advantage in games played in East Lansing, including 17-1 at Breslin Center. The Spartans have won 16 of the last 18, 23 of the last 26, and 43 of the last 47 contests. Tom Izzo is 26-4 in his career against Northwestern.
Bill Carmody (Union College, `75) is 284-233 in his 17th season as a collegiate head coach, including 192-208 in 13 seasons at Northwestern. He served as head coach at Princeton from 1996-2000.
The Last Meeting In East Lansing
Michigan State defeated Northwestern, 71-67, in overtime on Jan. 15, 2011, in East Lansing. The Spartans shot just 6-of-23 from the field in the first half and trailed 23-18 at the break. Neither team led by more than three points in the final 11 minutes, but the Wildcats led by three points, 59-56, with 36 seconds left. Draymond Green then hit two free throws to cut the lead to one. Luka Mirkovic hit one of two, and Green hit two more with 11 seconds left to tie the game and force OT. In the extra period, NU held a 65-62 lead with possession of the ball. Green stole the ball and took it in for a fast break dunk. Following a Wildcat turnover, Keith Appling hit a 3-pointer, giving MSU a 67-65 lead. NU then missed a three, and Appling hit two free throws to extend the lead to four and MSU held on for a 71-67 lead. Keith Appling scored a season-high 19 points and Kalin Lucas added 18. Drew Crawford led NU with 16, while the Spartan defense held John Shurna to six points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.
The Last Meeting
Northwestern defeated Michigan State, 81-74, on Jan. 14, 2012, in Evanston. MSU got off to a quick start, hitting nine of its first 10 shots in jumping out to a 25-16 lead with 9:17 left in the first half. Northwestern showed it wouldn't go away, and when Alex Marcotullio hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the Wildcats took a 36-34 lead with 1:21 left in the half. Right before the half, NU's John Shurna hit a deep 3-pointer, giving the Wildcats a 39-37 lead at the break. Northwestern would not give up the lead in the second half. MSU trailed 51-48 at the 14:42 mark following a Keith Appling 3-point play. The Spartan defense then forced a Wildcat miss, but Shurna grabbed the rebound resulting in a Reggie Hearn layup. The play sparked a 9-2 run that pushed the Wildcat lead to 60-50, and the Spartans could never get closer than five points after that. Appling led MSU with 17 points, while Shurna led all scorers with 22, and Drew Crawford added 20. The Spartans shot 65.0 percent in the first half, but just 34.4 percent in the second.
Four Wildcats, including leading scorer Drew Crawford and leading rebounder Jared Swopshire have been lost for the season due to injury ... Freshman center Alex Olah leads all players in the nation 7-feet or taller with 2.0 assists per game ... Senior Reggie Hearn, a former walk-on, ranks 15th in the Big Ten in scoring (13.4 ppg), leading all active Wildcats ... Northwestern records an assist on 70.9 percent of its baskets.
GM. 30 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 58 - WISCONSIN 43
In a low-scoring first half, neither team could create much early momentum. Trailing 12-10 at the 9:09 mark, MSU made the first strong push, going on a 10-0 run, capped by a Keith Appling 3-pointer. Wisconsin quickly narrowed the gap back to just four points, but when Travis Trice nailed a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, MSU took a 25-18 lead into intermission. UW scored the first basket of the second half to pull within five points. MSU responded with a 16-0 run to push the lead out to 41-20. During the run, the Badgers missed 11 straight shots and committed three turnovers. Appling scored 10 of his 16 points during the spurt, including two three-point plays. The Badgers never got closer than 15 points for the rest of the contest.
MSU VS. WISCONSIN NOTES
* MSU held Wisconsin to a season-low 43 points. In two games against MSU, Wisconsin totaled just 90 points.
* MSU held Wisconsin to 29.4 percent shooting, the Badgers' lowest-percentage since shooting 29.3 percent on March 6, 1999.
* MSU recorded a season-high 16 steals, matching the second-highest total ever by a Spartan team in a Big Ten game, while forcing Wisconsin to commit a season-high 17 turnovers.
* MSU held decisive advantages in points in the paint (32-12), points off turnovers (23-4) and fast-break points (15-0).
* Keith Appling scored a game-high 19 points, after totaling just 18 points in MSU's three prior games.
* Travis Trice recorded career-highs in steals (6) and rebounds (5).
* After missing all six of his shots in the first half, Gary Harris hit 5-of-8 in the second half.
* MSU became the first Big Ten team to win five straight games against Wisconsin under Bo Ryan.
* The Spartans won their eighth straight home game against Wisconsin after losing back-to-back games at Breslin Center in 2002 and 2004.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
Harris Paces Big Ten Freshmen
Gary Harris is one of eight finalists, and the only Big Ten finalist, for the 2013 Integris Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award, presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. In Big Ten games, he leads conference freshmen in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per contest. Harris leads Big Ten freshmen in 3-point percentage in conference games at .471 (40-of-85), ranking second among all players, and 3-point field goals made (2.4), which ranks fourth among all players. Defensively, he leads Big Ten freshmen with 1.6 steals per game, ranking fourth among all players. He also leads conference freshmen in overall scoring at 13.2 ppg. Following a week in which he averaged 15.5 points, including 17 against No. 4 Michigan, he earned his third Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor on Feb. 18, having also been honored on Nov. 19 and Dec. 10.
Payne's Improved Play
Over the last 15 games, Adreian Payne is averaging 12.2 points, shooting 67-of-118 (.568) from the field, including 12-of-26 from 3-point range. In the last five games, he's averaging 14.0 points and 11.8 rebounds, including grabbing 14 boards at Nebraska and a career-high 15 at Ohio State, while recording three double-doubles. A look at the Big Ten stats shows that Payne is one of the premier big men in the Big Ten, ranking fourth in the conference in rebounding (7.6 rpg), fourth in field-goal percentage (.566) and ninth in blocks (1.2 bpg). He also ranks third on the Spartans in scoring at 10.1 points per contest. Early in the season, he was limited by foul trouble, averaging just 20.1 minutes in the first 18 games, playing 30 or more minutes just once. However, he is averaging 31.3 minutes over the last 12 games, recording nine of the 10 30-minute games of his career.
Harris Ranks Among Best MSU Freshmen Ever
Gary Harris is on his way to turning in one of the best freshman campaigns in Michigan State history. His 13.2 ppg overall scoring average ranks third in school history behind just Earvin Johnson (17.0) and Shawn Respert (15.8). With 55 made three-pointers he also ranks third, trailing Chris Hill (66) and Shawn Respert (60), while ranking tied for second with 132 3-point attempts. He also ranks among the top five in 3-point field-goal percentage (fifth, .417) and steals (fourth, 40).
Michigan State presents a balanced scoring attack, especially in Big Ten games, where all five Spartan starters average 9.6 points or better. Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne have all led the Spartans in scoring during Big Ten play, and all five have scored 20 points in at least one game this season, including four of them doing it in Big Ten games.
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State's first of 15 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 173 games against ranked opponents. That total ranks first among teams that have appeared in a Final Four since then. The Spartans are followed by North Carolina (155), Kentucky (150), Duke (148) and Connecticut (142). (Through March 7)
Appling Joins 1,000-Point Club
With his 16 points at Nebraska, Keith Appling became the 43rd player in Michigan State history to record 1,000 career points, and just the 29th player to reach the milestone in three seasons. With 1,040 career points, he is 15 points away from passing Marcus Sanders (1,054 points) for 41st place in Michigan State history, 20 away from passing Earvin "Magic" Johnson (1,059 points), and 23 away from passing Johnny Green (1,062 points).
Improved 3-Point Shooting
Since the start of Big Ten play, Michigan State has been shooting better from 3-point range. Over the last 17 games, the Spartans are shooting .357 (90-of-252) from behind the arc, ranking third in the Big Ten. The high percentage can be directly attributed to prolific shooting from Adreian Payne (.462; 12-of-26) and Gary Harris (.471; 40-of-85) in conference action.
Limiting Turnovers In Conference Play
One area of concern for Michigan State is the number of turnovers, as the Spartans are averaging 13.5 per game, including five games with 19 or more. In Big Ten play, however, MSU has done a much better job, averaging 11.9 per conference game, including six games with 10 or fewer. On the season, MSU is 13-1 when committing the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent.
MSU Against Ranked Opponents
Michigan State is 5-5 this season against teams that were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time of the contest. The Spartans have played 14 of their 30 games against teams that have been ranked at some point this season, posting a 7-7 mark in those contests. In fact, MSU has played 11 games against teams that have been ranked in the Top 10 at some point this season, going 5-6.
Valentine Bounces Back
After appearing to have hit a "freshman wall" in mid-late January, Denzel Valentine has bounced back recently, averaging 6.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists over the last nine games. He's also shooting .476 from the field during this stretch.
Winning the Close Ones
Michigan State is 7-4 in games decided by five points or less, including 3-3 in conference games. In the last three minutes of conference games, MSU is shooting .431 (25-58) from the field, and .736 (67-91) from the foul line, averaging just 1.0 turnovers per game (17 in 17 games). MSU has avoided the blowout loss this season, as six of the seven losses have been by eight points or less, and the other loss (at Minnesota) was a two-point game with three minutes left. In fact, in six of MSU's losses, MSU has been within a basket in the final three minutes.
Assists From The Post
One of the reasons Michigan State has been shooting well from the perimeter in conference play has been the inside-outside combination, and many well placed passes from the post hitting the Spartan shooters at the right time. Among the best at it is senior center Derrick Nix. In conference games, he ranks third on the team with 30 assists. He's been especially effective lately, totaling 29 assists in the last 13 games, including collecting a career-best six assists at Indiana.
Spartans Pass Tough Stretch
Michigan State just completed a difficult stretch of games. Beginning with the home game vs. Ohio State and concluding with the home game against Wisconsin, Michigan State played eight games against opponents currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 (March 4) in a span of 12 games, and 10 opponents in the top 33. Ten of the 12 games were against teams expected to make the NCAA Tournament. The run finished with MSU playing four straight Big Ten games against ranked opponents for the first time since 1993. In fact, MSU is the only team in the nation to play four straight ranked opponents in conference play this season.
There's An App For That
Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (13.4 ppg - t-13th Big Ten) and assists (3.7 apg - 8th Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in 14 games, and scoring 20 or more points four times, all coming in Spartan wins. He's also shown a knack to elevate his play in the final minutes of games. In addition, he's establishing himself as one of the premier defenders in the nation. He was named captain on Jan. 20. Following his 24-point, 8-rebound, 7-assist game against Illinois, he was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Feb. 4.
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in steals in Big Ten games (8.2 spg) and overall (8.4 spg). The Spartans have led the conference in steals just once since the Big Ten first started crowning a steals champion in 1986 (conference games only), recording 8.3 per game in 1998. Against Wisconsin, the Spartans recorded a season-high 16 steals, matching the second-highest total ever by MSU in a Big Ten game.
It's All About Boardwork
Michigan State has led the nation in rebounding in four of the last 13 seasons (2000, 2001, 2009, 2010), ranking in the Top 10 eight times and the Top 25 on 11 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding in 12 of the last 15 years. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 472 of 611 opponents (.773), posting a 374-98 (.792) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded 27 of 30 opponents this season, having been out-rebounded just twice (Minnesota both times). They rank 3rd in the Big Ten and 13th in the nation with a +7.0 rebounding margin. In conference games, the Spartans rank second at +4.6.
Given the fact that Branden Dawson had ACL surgery just last March (two days after suffering the injury in the regular-season finale vs. Ohio State), it's remarkable that he has not missed even a single practice this season. On the season, he ranks fourth on the team in scoring (9.8 ppg), third in rebounding (6.0 rpg), and fourth in minutes played (26.8 mpg).
Appling On Cousy List
On Feb. 7, Keith Appling made the cut to one of 12 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, honoring the nation's top point guard. Appling is one of three Big Ten point guards on the list as he is joined by Michigan's Trey Burke and Ohio State's Aaron Craft. In conference games, Appling ranks seventh in the Big Ten in assists (3.5 apg), tied for eighth in steals (1.4 spg), and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6). Overall, he ranks eighth in assists (3.7 apg) and tied for 10th in steals (1.4 spg).
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded a team-best 49 steals (1.6 spg), ranking fifth in the Big Ten, and 29 blocks (1.0 bpg), ranking second on the team and 13th in the Big Ten. He is the only player 6-foot-6 or taller to rank in the Top 15 in steals, and the only one 6-foot-6 or shorter in the Top 15 in blocks. As a freshman, Dawson collected 29 steals in 31 games. Gary Harris ranks second on the team and ninth in the Big Ten with 40 steals (1.4 spg), while Adreian Payne leads the team and ranks ninth in the Big Ten with 36 blocks (1.2 bpg).
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of +9.2 points (33.9-24.7), out-scoring 24 of its 30 opponents. At times, MSU has dominated the paint, including out-scoring Texas Southern (46-10), Oakland (40-16), Miami (30-14), Nicholls State (52-20), Tuskegee (42-26), Bowling Green (42-24), Texas (30-16), Ohio State (34-14), Michigan (36-22) and Wisconsin (32-12). On the season, the Spartans have scored 49.3 percent of their points in the paint (1018 of 2064).
Big Ten Win No. 200
Tom Izzo recorded his 200th Big Ten victory with MSU's 81-72 win at Penn State. He joins Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) as the only coaches in a power six conference with 200 conference wins at their current school. Mike Montgomery (California) has more than 200 Pac 12 wins, but a majority of those came in a previous stint with Stanford. With 208 Big Ten wins, Izzo trails Bob Knight (353), Gene Keady (265), Ward Lambert (228), Lou Henson (214), and Branch McCracken (210).
Big Ten Success
Michigan State has won 13 Big Ten Championships, including three of the last four, since joining the league prior to the 1950-51 season. The Spartans' first ever league game was at Northwestern, where MSU claimed a 67-62 victory on Jan. 6, 1951. All-time, MSU is 566-455 (.554) in league play, including 208-95 (.686) under Tom Izzo, who ranks sixth in league history with 208 conference wins. Izzo has guided MSU to seven of its 13 league crowns. Since Izzo's first season (1995-96), MSU has a Big Ten-best record of 208-95, 17 games better than second-place Wisconsin (191-112).
With its victory at Purdue, Michigan State recorded its 13th 20-win season in the last 16 years, all under head coach Tom Izzo. Of the 21 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 18 of them, 13 as a head coach and five as an assistant.
Payne's Block Party
Junior center Adreian Payne ranks fourth in Michigan State history with 103 career blocks. Delvon Roe ranks third with 106. Earlier this season, Payne equaled his career high with four blocks against Kansas.
Harris' Immediate Impact
Gary Harris ranks second on the Spartans and leads Big Ten freshmen in scoring at 13.2 points per contest. If you only consider games in which he played more than a minute, he's averaging 13.7 ppg. He opened his Spartan career by becoming just the third freshman in MSU history to score in double figures in each of his first three games. He suffered a shoulder sprain in the first defensive possession of the fourth game of the season against Boise State, and missed the two games following that one. He is a three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, earning the honor on Nov. 19, Dec. 10 and Feb. 18. He's averaging a team-best 13.8 ppg in Big Ten play, leading conference freshmen. Harris leads MSU in 3-pointers made (55) and attempted (132), and has made 47.1 percent (40-of-85) of his shots from behind the arc in conference action.
MSU's Center Tandem
Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne combine to give Michigan State a steady inside presence. Although they often will take the floor together, at least one of them is usually in the game. Combined, they average 19.4 ppg and 13.9 rpg. Both of them are also shooting better than 49 percent from the field.
Four different Spartans have posted a double-double this season. Adreian Payne (Nicholls State, Loyola, Tuskegee, Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan) leads the way with six, while Derrick Nix (Tuskegee, Texas and Nebraska) and Branden Dawson (Connecticut, Purdue, Wisconsin) each have three. Denzel Valentine (Oakland) has one.
The 2011-12 season was one of Michigan State's best defensive efforts on record. The Spartans ranked second in the nation, allowing opponents to shoot .379 from the field, the lowest percentage by Spartan opponents since 1957-58 (.343). In addition, MSU ranked No. 15 in the nation in scoring defense (59.3 ppg) and 3-point field-goal percentage defense (.299). This season, MSU is allowing opponents to shoot .390 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten, including .304 from 3-point range, ranking fourth. MSU also ranks third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 59.3 points per contest. In MSU's five conference losses, the Spartans have allowed 69.8 points on .475 shooting, compared to 59.7 points on .404 shooting in 11 Big Ten wins.
Michigan State got off to a cold shooting start this season, failing to shoot better than 39 percent in either half in the opener against Connecticut. In the 58 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 21 times. On the season, MSU is shooting .460 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten. In conference games, the Spartans rank third, shooting .446.
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick Nix grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in his Spartan debut three seasons ago, but did not record double figures in rebounds again until the 2012-13 season opener when he collected 11 boards against Connecticut. He has five double-figure rebounding games this season, and has recorded three double-doubles. They were his first double-doubles since his Spartan debut. Following a career-high 25-point, 11-rebound effort against Texas, he was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 24.
Searching For A Rotation
Michigan State has used five different starting lineups this year. Eight current Spartans are averaging 8.3 minutes or more per game, and 10 are averaging 6.3 minutes or more. Finding a rotation was difficult early in the season due to injuries to Travis Trice, Matt Costello and Gary Harris. In fact, the game at Miami (No. 7 of the season) was the first game in which all non-redshirting scholarship players saw action, and even then, Trice and Harris were just coming off injuries.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have made key contributions early in their Spartan careers. Harris ranks second on the squad in scoring (13.2 ppg) and minutes (29.3 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (2.5 apg), fourth in rebounds (4.2 rpg) and sixth in minutes (21.5 mpg). Matt Costello has seen limited action, averaging 6.3 minutes in the 23 games in which he's played, although he's averaging 2.9 points and 10.0 minutes in his last seven games.
Appling At Winning Time
In several of Michigan State's wins, Keith Appling has made key plays down the stretch to secure a Spartan victory. Against Kansas, Appling scored five points in the final 1:36, first hitting a 3-pointer to give MSU a four-point lead, and then connecting on an acrobatic driving layup with 14 seconds left to give MSU a 67-64 win. He scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half against the Jayhawks. Against Boise State, with MSU leading by two points in the final minute, Appling hit another driving layup with 14 seconds left, this time converting on a three-point play to give MSU a 73-68 advantage. Against Oakland, with the Golden Grizzlies having cut the lead to four points with under seven minutes left, Appling knocked down a 3-pointer to spark a 15-1 run to close the game. At Iowa, he scored six of his 12 points in the final 1:49, including hitting all four free throw attempts in the final 20 seconds of a three-point Spartan win. Against Ohio State, he had a direct hand in MSU's final nine points, including scoring the Spartans' final six points in the last 41 seconds; assisting on Adreian Payne's three-point play, driving past Aaron Craft for a go-ahead layup, scoring on a breakaway dunk and sealing the game with two free throws with 7.9 seconds left. After the OSU victory, Coach Tom Izzo remarked "Appling at winning time has been as good as anybody." Against Illinois, Appling scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, scoring or assisting on 11 of MSU's 14 second-half field goals. He scored nine points in the game's final 4:22.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 341-265, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +2.6 points per game (11.4-8.8). The Spartans are averaging 11.6 offensive boards per game, with an offensive rebound percentage of .357.
Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten makes a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball. Indiana (No. 2), Michigan (No. 7), Michigan State (No. 10), Ohio State (No. 14), and Wisconsin (No. 22) are all ranked in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 (March 4), while Illinois has the seventh-highest point total among unranked teams, and Minnesota has the eighth-highest total. To make matters more difficult for MSU, the Spartans will play a combined eight games against those four teams during conference play. Michigan State's single plays are at Iowa and Penn State, and hosting Illinois and Northwestern. Last season, eight of the 12 league teams participated in the postseason, including five teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Another Izzo Milestone
Tom Izzo became the third-winningest coach in Big Ten history with Michigan State's win vs. Purdue on Jan. 5. The victory was win No. 424, passing Lou Henson (423 wins; 1975-96). Izzo (435 wins) now trails just Bob Knight (662; 1971-2000) and Gene Keady (512; 1980-2005).
Senior Derrick Nix and red-shirt sophomore Russell Byrd will serve as team captains during the 2012-13 season. They were chosen by a vote of their teammates, and Tom Izzo made the announcement at MSU Men's Basketball Media Day on October 9. On Jan. 20, Izzo announced that Keith Appling was added as a team captain.
Michigan State has a reputation for being a strong, physical team and the numbers back it up. Twelve players on MSU's roster can leg press over 700 pounds, with Derrick Nix leading the way with 1100 pounds. Since his arrival on campus, Keith Appling has increased his leg press by 315 pounds under the direction of Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Vorkapich. Collectively, the Spartans can leg press 6 tons - the equivalent of three cars or one African elephant. In terms of upper body strength, Nix leads the way once again, bench pressing the NBA testing standard of 185 pounds 22 times. Gary Harris is the strongest of the guards, ranking tied with Alex Gauna for second on the team with 19 repetitions.
In addition to their strength, the Spartans have also proven to be incredibly athletic, leading to the up-tempo pace Michigan State desires to play this season. When Coach Izzo recruited Adreian Payne, he called Payne the most athletic big man he's ever coached. He wasn't exaggerating as Payne holds the Izzo-era record for a standing vertical jump (no step) at 38 inches. Given a running start, three players can elevate greater than 40 inches: Keith Appling (42"), Adreian Payne (41"), and Travis Trice (40.5").
THE BOOK ON TOM IZZO
In his 18th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 435-176 (.712), and 208-95 (.686) in the Big Ten, as the coach of the Michigan State basketball program. He ranks as the winningest coach in Michigan State history, having passed his mentor Jud Heathcote with his 341st career victory on Nov. 28, 2009 . In his 17 seasons as a head coach, Izzo has captured eight National Coach of the Year awards, including the Clair Bee Award in 2005 and NABC honors in 2001 and 2012. In 1999, Izzo was named National Coach of the year by Basketball Times, while earning similar honors from The Associated Press, Basketball News and the USBWA in '98. He also earned National Coach of the Year accolades from CBSSports.com in 2012. He earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1998, 2009 and 2012.
Among The Big Ten's Best
Tom Izzo's .686 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks third all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind Wisconsin's Bo Ryan (.708), and former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700), and ahead of former Purdue coach Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Knight ranks first at .734, followed by Ryan (.722), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Izzo (.712), and Lambert (.709). With 208 conference victories, Izzo ranks sixth all-time.
Izzo Among Best Ever
Through his first 17 seasons, Tom Izzo won 412 games, ranking tied for second in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 17 years.
Izzo's Coaching Tree
Five current Division I head coaches all served as assistants to Tom Izzo, including Tom Crean (Indiana), Brian Gregory (Georgia Tech), Stan Heath (South Florida), Mark Montgomery (Northern Illinois) and Doug Wojcik (College of Charleston). Mike Garland served as head coach at Cleveland State for three seasons and Stan Joplin, an assistant during Izzo's first season, spent 12 seasons as head coach at Toledo. Jim Boylen was head coach at Utah for four years.