March 17, 2012
By Steve Grinczel, Online Columnist
COLUMBUS - There would be no rest for Michigan State's weary coaching staff after the Spartans opened the NCAA Tournament with an 89-67 victory over LIU Brooklyn.
But then, as former MSU assistant and current Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory once said, they can sleep in April.
After celebrating his 11th victory in 15 NCAA openers for about a minute, head coach Tom Izzo was on to the Spartans' next opponent. Michigan State will play Saint Louis at about 2:45 p.m. on Sunday in Nationwide Arena. The ninth-seeded Billikens defeated Memphis, 61-54, in their opener.
"Oh yeah, this will be an all-nighter because this is a hard team to prepare for," Izzo said.
Izzo knows what he and his staff and players are in for because Saint Louis is coached by Rick Majerus.
Michigan State's second game of the 2000 national tournament also was a Majerus-coached team, Utah. The Spartans defeated the eighth-seed Utes, 73-61, during their run to the National Championship.
"We looked at the two different preps, not that we pulled for one team or another, but we knew one was going to be a harder prep than the other, and we got the harder prep team," Izzo said. "That doesn't mean it's the better team, that doesn't mean it's the worst team.
"But there's a lot of prep that's going to go into this game."
Majerus' 26-year resume also includes head-coaching stints at Marquette and Ball State and a brief NBA stop with the Milwaukee Bucks.
"They just run a lot more stuff and do a lot more things," Izzo said of Saint Louis. "He brings a lot of different things in, a lot of pro things. They're coming with different sets, probably like us. They're coming at us with a lot of different things.
"They've got a lot in their repertoire."
What the Spartans have going for them is Izzo's proven NCAA system which has produced a bleary-eyed, but stellar, 16-3 record in the second game of a tournament weekend.