Nov. 6, 2012
The Opening Tip
One year after playing North Carolina in the inaugural Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, the Spartans will open the 2012-13 season against Connecticut in the Armed Forces Classic. The Spartans are a young squad, as eight of their 11 available scholarship players are freshmen or sophomores.
The Starting Five (And a Sixth Man)
1. For Openers
Michigan State is 90-23 all-time in openers, winning 33 of the last 35. The only two losses in the last 35 years came last year to No. 1 North Carolina in the Carrier Classic, on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in Coronado, Calif., and in November 2005, when MSU fell at Hawai'i, 84-62. Prior to that, the Spartans' last loss in an opener came on Nov. 29, 1976, when they fell to Central Michigan, 81-76.
2. Frequent Flier Miles
With trips to Ramstein Air Base (vs. Connecticut), Atlanta (vs. Kansas) and Miami, Michigan State will travel nearly 12,000 miles in the month of November.
3. Early Openers
Michigan State's season opener on Nov. 9 marks the second earliest season opener in school history. In 2006, the Spartans opened against Brown on Nov. 8. It will be a busy opening month for Michigan State, playing seven games in total, tied for the second most in November with 2011-12. The Spartans played eight November contests in 2006-07.
4. 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 163 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 (151), Kentucky (146), Duke (142) and Connecticut (136).
5. Spartan Defense
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).
6. 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 445 of 581 opponents (.766), posting a 352-93 (.791) mark in those games.
MSU vs. Connecticut Notes
Kevin Ollie was named the 18th head coach in UConn history on Sept. 13, 2012, after 26-year head coach Jim Calhoun announced his retirement. Ollie was a four-year starting point guard, including two years as captain, averaging 6.7 points and 5.0 assists. His 619 career assists still rank third in UConn history. During his four-year career, UConn posted a 92-33 record, appearing in three NCAA Tournaments, including the 1994 Sweet 16 and the 1995 Elite Eight. The Huskies also won the BIG EAST regular-season championship in 1994 and 1995.
Izzo Can Relate
As Kevin Ollie coaches his first game, Tom Izzo remembers his first game as a collegiate head coach at Michigan State. With mentor Jud Heathcote in attendance, Izzo and the Spartans defeated Chaminade in the Maui Invitational, 69-66. In the next game, Izzo faced Dean Smith, who had 831 wins.
The all-time series between Michigan State and Connecticut is tied 2-2, including 1-1 at a neutral site. Most recently, the Huskies defeated the Spartans in the 2010 Maui Invitational. MSU's last win was an 82-73 victory in the 2009 Final Four in Detroit.
The Last Meeting
Connecticut defeated Michigan State, 70-67, on Nov. 23, 2010, at the Maui Invitational, as Kemba Walker scored 30 points to defeat the No. 2 Spartans. The game featured 11 lead changes, including seven in the second half. MSU held a 61-55 lead with 9:17 remaining, but UConn went on an 11-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 66-61 lead. MSU shot 75.0 percent from the foul line, but missed five of its last six, including the front end of a one-and-one. Draymond Green led MSU in scoring (22), rebounds (12), assists (5) and blocks (3).
Junior guard Shabazz Napier is the lone starter returning from last year's squad ... Sophomore guard Ryan Boatright joins Napier as the only two returners from last year's top six scorers ... Napier was named second-team preseason All-BIG EAST ... UConn has three players from Germany (Niels Giffey, Leon Tolksdorf, Enosch Wolf).
MSU Basketball Notes
Outside The Box
Being a part of a unique event is nothing new to Michigan State. On Oct. 6, 2001, MSU hosted Michigan in "The Cold War," the first college hockey game to be played outside in a football stadium. Since then, the tradition has been adopted by the NHL and college hockey teams across the country. On Dec. 13, 2003, MSU played Kentucky in "The BasketBowl" at Ford Field in Detroit in front of a then world-record crowd of 78,129, and still the largest crowd ever to watch a college basketball game. Five years later, when the Final Four was played in Detroit, the court was placed in the center of the football stadium rather than in a corner, as had previously been the case. Both the Cold War and BasketBowl were envisioned by current MSU athletics director Mark Hollis, who also provided the vision for the Carrier Classic, which saw Michigan State play North Carolina on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Nov. 11, 2011.
Carrier Classic Recap
Michigan State played North Carolina on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Nov. 11, 2011, in front of a crowd of 8,111, including President Barack Obama and active US servicemen and women and Wounded Warriors. UNC scored the game's first six points, but MSU responded with nine straight during a 15-2 run to take a 15-8 run with 11:54 left in the first half. MSU still held a 19-14 lead with under eight minutes left when Draymond Green tried to hit Branden Dawson streaking down the court after a rebound. Dawson slipped on the logo sticker at midcourt, resulting in a turnover, and UNC hit a 3-pointer in the ensuing scramble to spark a 12-0 run. During that run, both Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix were on the bench with two fouls, while Dawson was on the bench with an injured knee. Midway through the run, Keith Appling picked up his third foul at the 3:49 mark of the first half. UNC outscored MSU 12-6 in his absence to take a 36-25 lead at the half. In the second half, UNC led by 20 points with 10:42 left, 59-39, but MSU kept battling, and scored the game's next 10 points. Travis Trice stole the ball, but rushed a shot in transition. On UNC's next possesion, three offensive rebounds eventually resulted in a Harrison Barnes 3-pointer, and MSU never got closer than 10 points after that.
Izzo In Kuwait
One of the events that motivated Coach Izzo to play in events like the Armed Forces Classic and the Carrier Classic was an experience he had visiting US military in Kuwait. In the summer of 2005, Izzo traveled to Kuwait to take part in "Operation Hardwood - Hoops With the Troops." Izzo was one of eight coaches and sports personalities coaching 13-member military basketball teams on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Camp Arifjan defeated the other bases to win the championship under the direction of Coach Izzo. One of the highlights of the trip was the military fatigues the coaches were presented (including name) prior to the championship game. The event was so moving for Izzo that he made a return trip in May 2006.
Another Tough Start
Last year, MSU opened the schedule with back-to-back games against ranked opponents for the first time in school history. While that won't be the case this season, the start of the year is no less formidable. The Spartans open the season in Germany, playing UConn at Ramstein Air Base in the Armed Forces Classic on Nov. 9. Four days later, the Spartans will play No. 7 Kansas, the 2012 National Runner-Up, in the Champions Classic in Atlanta, Ga. This is the first time since 1918-19 and 1919-20 that Michigan State will open the season with two games away from East Lansing in back-to-back seasons.
Michigan State defeated Northwood (Fla.) (85-57) and St. Cloud State (62-49) in exhibition action. Four Spartans averaged double-figures in scoring, led by senior center Derrick Nix (13.5 ppg). He was joined in double-figures by fellow starters Gary Harris (12.5 ppg), Branden Dawson (10.0 ppg) and Keith Appling (10.0 ppg). Adreian Payne (8.5 ppg, team-best 9.5 rpg) was the fifth starter. Coach Izzo experimented with many different playing groups in the two contests, as 10 different Spartans averaged 9.5 minutes or more.
Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten will make a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball. Indiana (No. 1), Ohio State (No. 4), Michigan (No. 5), Michigan State (No. 14), and Wisconsin (No. 21) are all ranked in the Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, while Minnesota received votes. To make matters more difficult for MSU, the Spartans will play each of the those other five teams twice 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.
Michigan State returns four of its top six scorers and 10 of its top 13 scorers from last season. The Spartans return 58.6% of their minutes, 57.6% percent of their scoring, 51.7% of their rebounding, and 54.8% percent of their assists. Keith Appling was the only player to start all 37 games last year, while Adreian Payne (36) and Branden Dawson (31) also started more than 30 contests. In addition, Derrick Nix has started 18 games in his career. Coversely, only five returners have played more than 350 minutes in their time at MSU.
The Izzo Era
In his 18th season as Michigan State head coach, the 2012-13 campaign will be Izzo's 30th season in East Lansing. An eight-time National Coach of the Year, Izzo has guided MSU to seven Big Ten Championships, three Big Ten Tournament titles, 15 straight NCAA Tournaments, six Final Four appearances, and the 2000 NCAA Championship in his stint as head coach. He is MSU's all-time winningest coach with 412 wins, and is the longest serving active men's basketball coach in the Big Ten. In addition, his 412 victories are the second-most by a coach in his first 17 years of coaching in NCAA history.
MSU In November
Michigan State has an all-time record of 95-28 in games played in the month of November. This includes a 67-3 mark at home. The last team to beat MSU at home in November was a David Robinson-led Navy squad that bested the Spartans, 91-90, in overtime on Nov. 29, 1986. Tom Izzo is 41-0 all-time at home in November.
Payne's Block Party
Junior center Adreian Payne stands just outside the MSU career blocks Top 10 with 67 career rejections. He needs six blocks to tie Adam Ballinger (73) for 10th place, and eight to tie Andre Hutson (75) for ninth.
A Look Back At 2011-12
Michigan State entered the 2011-12 season unranked, and opened the schedule with a loss to No. 1 North Carolina on the USS Carl Vinson in the Carrier Classic, followed by a loss to No. 6 Duke in Madison Square Garden in the Champions Classic. The Spartans bounced back with a 15-game winning streak, including wins at No. 23 Gonzaga and No. 18 Wisconsin and a home win over No. 13 Indiana. MSU lost three of its next five Big Ten games, but responded with a seven-game winning streak, including wins over No. 23 Michigan, at No. 3 Ohio State and against No. 15 Wisconsin. The streak secured a share of Michigan State's third Big Ten title in the last four years. After dropping the final two games of the regular season, MSU captured its third Big Ten Tournament in school history, defeating No. 14 Wisconsin in the semifinals and No. 7 Ohio State in a classic finals matchup. The tournament championship secured a No. 1 seed for MSU in the West Regional of the NCAA Tournament, where the Spartans advanced to their 10th Sweet 16 in the last 15 years, good for second most in the nation, before falling to Louisville.
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.
More Non-Conference Highlights
The games against Connecticut and Kansas to open the season get a bulk of the attention, but there are other highlights throughout the non-conference schedule. Michigan State will travel to Miami for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 28. The highlight of the home schedule is a game against Texas on Dec. 22. In addition, MSU is returning to Jenison Field House for the first time since 1989, hosting Tuskegee on Dec. 15, while also celebrating the 50th anniversary season of the "Game of Change" contest between Mississippi State and Loyola in the 1963 NCAA Tournament at Jenison.
MSU In The Rankings
While Michigan State proved last season that preseason rankings don't determine success, becoming just the 10th team to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after entering the season unranked, they are still worth noting. The Spartans are ranked as high as No. 6 (CBSSports.com), and as low as No. 22 (Sporting News), with several others in between: No. 7 (Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook), No. 9 (ESPN.com), No. 10 (Athlon Sports College Basketball), No. 14 (USA Today Coaches Poll & Associated Press), No. 16 (Lindy's Sports College Basketball).
Michigan State welcomes a talented and decorated class to the team in 2012-13. Gary Harris was a 2012 McDonald's All-American, and the recipient of the Indianapolis Star Indiana Mr. Basketball award, averaging 25.4 points at Hamilton Southeastern. Matt Costello was the Hal Schram Michigan Mr. Basketball Award winner after averaging 25 points and 19 rebounds as a senior at Bay City Western. Denzel Valentine led Lansing Sexton to back-to-back Class B state championships, and was the 2012 Associated Press Class B Player of the Year after nearly averaging a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Kenny Kaminski missed most of his senior season at Medina with a shoulder injury, but returned in time to lead his team to the Elite Eight of the state tournament. Harris, Costello and Valentine all are expected to contribute this year, while a different shoulder injury makes Kaminski a possible redshirt candidate.
Big Ten Success
Michigan State has captured at least a share of the Big Ten Championship in three of the last four seasons. After winning the title outright in 2009, the Spartans shared the conference crown in 2010 and 2012. Last season, MSU also added a Big Ten Tournament title to its resume. During Tom Izzo's tenure, the Spartans have won seven regular-season titles and three tournament crowns.
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 412-169 (.709), and 196-90 (.689) 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 .685 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 (.710), 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 (.726), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Lambert (.709) and Izzo (.709). With 196 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.