Spartans Open Big Ten Tournament On Friday
Michigan State will host the winner of Thursday's Iowa-Northwestern contest.
March 14, 2013
|#3 Michigan State (24-7, 13-5) vs.
#6 Iowa (20-11, 9-9)/#11 Northwestern (13-18, 4-14)
|Date||Friday, March 15, 2013|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Location||Chicago, Ill. | United Center|
|Television||BTN (Gus Johnson, Shon Morris, Stephanie White)|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas, Matt Steigenga)|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Iowa | Northwestern|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Iowa | Northwestern|
|Social Media||@MSU_Basketball | Facebook|
THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State enters the 2013 Big Ten Tournament as the No. 3 seed, following a regular-season in which the Spartans tied for second place. MSU will open the tournament on Friday night facing the winner of Thursday's contest between Northwestern and Iowa. The Spartans faced both opponents just once during the season, winning both games.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. MSU In The Big Ten Tournament
The Spartans are looking to capture their fourth Big Ten Tournament championship. In 15 previous years of the Big Ten Tournament, MSU has a record of 18-12. The Spartans won the tournament in 1999, 2000 and 2012, and lost in the quarterfinals in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010. MSU lost in the semifinals in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Spartans are 8-5 when the tournament is held in Chicago. The Spartans are 9-6 in the quarterfinals, including 3-4 in Chicago.
2. MSU As A No. 3 Seed
This is the third time Michigan State has been the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. In 2004, MSU defeated No. 6 Northwestern, 68-55, before falling to No. 2 Wisconsin, 68-66. In 2010, the Spartans fell to No. 6 Minnesota, 72-67 (OT), in the quarterfinals, but would go on to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament.
3. Better Than A Final Four
Coach Izzo has said that this year's Big Ten Tournament could be better than a Final Four and the numbers back him up. There are currently four Big Ten teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 (Indiana-3, Michigan-6, MSU-8, Ohio State-10). In none of the six Final Fours to which MSU has advanced under Tom Izzo have all four teams been ranked in the Top 10. In fact, four Top 10 teams in the Final Four has happened just three times in the last 10 NCAA Tournaments (2004, 2007, 2008).
4. All-Big Ten Spartans
Four Spartans were honored when the All-Big Ten Teams were announced on March 11. Gary Harris became the first Spartan to ever win Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors since the award's inception in 1986. Harris, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling all earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches, while the media picked Harris and Payne for the second team and Appling for the third team. Derrick Nix earned honorable mention accolades from the coaches, and Payne was the MSU recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
5. MSU In March
Michigan State is 70-28 (.714) in March since the 1998-99 season. For his career, Tom Izzo is 77-35 (.688) in March. Over the last four-plus years (2009-present), MSU is 24-8 in what Coach Izzo calls his favorite month of the year.
MSU VS. IOWA NOTES
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Iowa, 67-53. MSU has won 24 of the last 32 meetings. Tom Izzo is 25-9 in his career against Iowa.
Spartans Vs. Hawkeyes In Big Ten Tournament
Michigan State is 3-2 against Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament, including 2-1 in the quarterfinals. No. 2 MSU defeated No. 7 Iowa, 75-65, in the 2000 quarterfinals. In 2005, the seventh-seeded Hawkeyes defeated the No. 2 Spartans, 71-69. The following year, No. 2 Iowa defeated No. 6 MSU, 53-48. In 2011, No. 7 MSU defeated No. 10 Iowa, 66-61, in the first round behind 21 points and 14 rebounds from Draymond Green. Last season, No. 1 MSU beat No. 8 Iowa, 92-75, in the quarterfinals as the Spartans set a team Big Ten Tournament scoring record. Green led MSU with 21 points, and Adreian Payne added 16.
Fran McCaffery (Penn, '82) is 300-225 in his 17th season as a Division I head coach, including 49-48 in his third season at Iowa. McCaffery came to Iowa City from Siena, where he led the Saints to three straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. His head coaching career also includes a six-year stint at UNC Greensboro (1999-2005) and three seasons at Lehigh (1985-88).
The Last Meeting
MSU defeated Iowa, 62-59, on Jan. 10, 2013, in Iowa City. Iowa led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but when Gary Harris hit three free throws with 1:04 left the game was tied at 56. Branden Dawson followed with a steal and breakaway dunk giving MSU a 60-58 lead. In the final 34 seconds, Iowa shot just 3-of-6 from the foul line, but Keith Appling was 4-of-4 in the final 20 seconds for MSU, sealing the Spartan victory.
MSU VS. NORTHWESTERN NOTES
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 82-38. The Spartans have won 17 of the last 19, 24 of the last 27, and 44 of the last 48 contests. Tom Izzo is 27-4 in his career against Northwestern.
Spartans Vs. Wildcats In Big Ten Tournament
Michigan State is 3-0 against Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament, including 2-0 in the quarterfinals. No. 1 seed MSU defeated No. 8 Northwestern, 61-59, in the 1999 quarterfinals, narrowly escaping the upset bid. In 2004, No. 3 MSU defeated No. 6 NU in the quarterfinals, 68-55. Most recently No. 7 MSU defeated No. 10 Northwestern, 62-57, in 2007.
Bill Carmody (Union College, `75) is 284-234 in his 17th season as a collegiate head coach, including 192-209 in 13 seasons at Northwestern. He served as head coach at Princeton from 1996-2000.
The Last Meeting
Michigan State defeated Northwestern, 71- 61, on March 10, 2013, in the regular-season finale. The Spartans led by as many as 13 points twice in the first half, but the Wildcats pulled within seven points at the half. In the second half, Northwestern tied the game at 53 with 5:44 remaining. MSU then scored on five of its next six possessions, and NU missed seven straight shots, as the Spartans went on a 10-0 run over the next 4:41.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
As the lone senior on the Spartan squad, Derrick Nix is a prime example of what maturation and perseverance can do in a student-athlete's career. He currently averages 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, after averaging just 2.3 points and 2.1 boards as a freshman. Through his first three years, he had one career double-double, one career double-figure rebounding game and 16 career double-figure scoring games. This year alone he has three double-doubles, four double-figure rebounding games, and 12 double-figure scoring games. He's also shown dramatic improvement at the foul line, shooting .730 this season, after having shot just .271 as a freshman. Over the course of his career, MSU is 100-39, 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.
Harris Paces Big Ten Freshmen
Gary Harris is the first player in Michigan State history to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, since it was first awarded in 1986. He 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 led conference freshmen in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per contest. Harris led Big Ten freshmen in 3-point percentage in conference games at .472 (42-of-89), ranking second among all players, and 3-point field goals made (2.3), which ranked tied for fifth among all players. Defensively, he led 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. He was a three-time recipient of Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors (Nov. 19, Dec. 10, Feb. 18).
Payne's Improved Play
Over the last 16 games, Adreian Payne is averaging 12.1 points, shooting 71-of-125 (.568) from the field, including 13-of-28 (.464) from 3-point range. In the last six games, he's averaging 13.5 points and 10.5 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 (7.5 rpg), fourth in field-goal percentage (.566) and 10th 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 30.5 minutes over the last 13 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 57 made three-pointers he also ranks third, trailing Chris Hill (66) and Shawn Respert (60), while ranking second with 136 3-point attempts. He also ranks among the top five in 3-point field-goal percentage (fifth, .419) and steals (tied for third, 41).
Michigan State presents a balanced scoring attack, especially in Big Ten games, where all five Spartan starters averaged 9.7 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 (156), Kentucky (150), Duke (148) and Connecticut (142). (Through March 10)
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 1,056 career points, he is four points away from passing Earvin "Magic" Johnson (1,059 points) for 40th place in Michigan State history, seven away from passing Johnny Green (1,062 points) for 39th place and 26 points away from passing Goran Suton (1,081 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 18 games, the Spartans are shooting .366 (96-of-262) from behind the arc, ranking third in the Big Ten. The high percentage can be directly attributed to prolific shooting from Adreian Payne (.464; 13-of-28) and Gary Harris (.472; 42-of-89) 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 did 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 31 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.
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 .441 (26-59) from the field, and .760 (79-104) from the foul line, averaging just 0.9 turnovers per game (17 in 18 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 36 assists. He's been especially effective lately, totaling 35 assists in the last 14 games, including collecting a career-best six assists at Indiana and on Senior Day against Northwestern.
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 11) in a span of 12 games. 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 (13.5 ppg - 13th Big Ten) and assists (3.7 apg - 8th Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in 15 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 led the Big Ten in steals in conference games (7.9 spg) for just the second time since the Big Ten first started crowning a steals champion in 1986 (conference games only), having also led the conference in 1998 (8.3 spg). The Spartans also pace the conference in all games at 8.2 spg. 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 612 opponents (.771), posting a 374-98 (.792) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded 27 of 31 opponents this season, having been out-rebounded just three times (Minnesota (twice), Northwestern). They rank third in the Big Ten and 15th in the nation with a +6.8 rebounding margin. In conference games, the Spartans ranked second at +4.3.
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 (9.7 ppg), third in rebounding (6.0 rpg), and fourth in minutes played (26.6 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 ranked tied for seventh in the Big Ten in assists (3.4 apg), tied for ninth in steals (1.3 spg), and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5). Overall, he ranks eighth in assists (3.7 apg) and 12th in steals (1.4 spg).
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded a team-best 50 steals (1.6 spg), ranking sixth in the Big Ten, and 29 blocks (0.9 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 14 in blocks. As a freshman, Dawson collected 29 steals in 31 games. Keith Appling ranks second on the team and 12th in the Big Ten with 42 steals (1.4 spg), while Adreian Payne leads the team and ranks 10th 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 (34.0-24.8), out-scoring 25 of its 31 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 49.4 percent of their points in the paint (1054 of 2135).
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 209 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 five, 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 567-455 (.555) in league play, including 209-95 (.688) under Tom Izzo, who ranks sixth in league history with 209 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 209-95, 17 games better than second-place Wisconsin (192-112).
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 13.6 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 13.7 ppg in Big Ten play, leading conference freshmen. Harris leads MSU in 3-pointers made (57) and attempted (136), and has made 47.2 percent (42-of-89) 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 13.8 rpg. Both of them are also shooting better than 50 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 .392 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten, including .302 from 3-point range, ranking second. 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 60 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 23 times. On the season, MSU is shooting .464 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten. In conference games, the Spartans ranked third, shooting .454.
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 8.0 minutes or more per game, and 10 are averaging 6.2 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 (29.5 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (2.5 apg), fourth in rebounds (4.1 rpg) and sixth in minutes (21.3 mpg). Matt Costello has seen limited action, averaging 6.2 minutes in the 25 games in which he's played, although he's averaging 2.5 points and 9.5 minutes in his last eight 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, 345-275, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +2.2 points per game (11.1-8.9). The Spartans are averaging 11.3 offensive boards per game, with an offensive rebound percentage of .355.
Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten makes a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball. Indiana (No. 3), Michigan (No. 6), Michigan State (No. 8), Ohio State (No. 10), and Wisconsin (No. 22) are all ranked in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 (March 11). To make matters more difficult for MSU, the Spartans played a combined eight games against those four teams during conference play. Michigan State's single plays were 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 (436 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 436-176 (.712), and 209-95 (.688) 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 .688 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 (.706), 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), Izzo (.712), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), and Lambert (.709). With 209 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.