Nov. 12, 2012
THE OPENING TIP
Coming off a tough loss to Connecticut in Germany, the Spartans will have to bounce back quickly, facing No. 7 Kansas in the Champions Classic. This is the second year of the Champions Classic, featuring four of the premier programs in the country. Last season, MSU fell to Duke, 74-69, in New York.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. About The State Farm Champions Classic
The State Farm Champions Classic is a three-year agreement featuring four elite programs playing a round-robin in three different cities. Michigan State is joined by Duke, Kansas and Kentucky. The teams have combined for a total of 25 NCAA Final Four appearances in the last 22 years: Duke (7), Michigan State (6), Kansas (6) and Kentucky (6); and have captured a combined 17 NCAA Division I Championships all-time: Kentucky (8), Duke (4), Kansas (3) and Michigan State (2). Last year, Duke defeated MSU, 74-69, and Kentucky defeated Kansas, 75-65, in Madison Square Garden in New York City. In 2013, MSU will play Kentucky and Duke will play Kansas at Chicago's United Center.
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. By the time MSU returns from Atlanta, the Spartans will have flown more than 9500 miles within the last week.
3. 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 (137).
4. Spartans At The Georgia Dome
Michigan State is 2-0 all-time at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Spartans defeated Gonzaga, 77-62, and Temple, 69-62, in the 2001 NCAA Tournament South Regional as Michigan State advanced to its third straight Final Four.
5. 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 446 of 582 opponents (.766), posting a 352-94 (.789) mark in those games. The Spartans out-rebounded Connecticut by a +14 margin (43-29) in the season opener, including collecting 20 offensive rebounds.
MSU VS. KANSAS NOTES
Bill Self (Oklahoma State, '85) is 477-158 in his 20th season as a collegiate head coach, including 270-53 in his 10th season at Kansas. Prior to his arrival in Lawrence, he served as the head coach at Illinois for three seasons, at Tulsa for three seasons and at Oral Roberts for four years. He is one of four coaches in NCAA Division I history to have led three different teams to the NCAA Elite Eight. Last season, Self earned the Naismith and Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year honors. Tom Izzo is 5-4 in his career against Bill Self, going 1-0 while Self was at Tulsa, 2-3 when he was at Illinois and 2-1 at Kansas. In 2001, Izzo and Self led their squads to 13-3 conference records, sharing the Big Ten regular-season championship.
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 5-4, having won the last two contests, both of which came during the 2008-09 season. The Spartans are 2-1 against the Jayhawks on a neutral court, winning at the 2009 NCAA Tournament and the 1999 Great Eight, while Kansas won at the 1986 NCAA Tournament.
The Last Meeting
Michigan State rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit, and defeated Kansas, 67-62, in the Sweet Sixteen of 2009 NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks took a 32-19 lead with 3:27 left in the first half, but MSU pulled within seven points at 36-29 at the half. Goran Suton kept the Spartans close, scoring 13 of his season-high 20 points in the half. The Spartans took their first lead of the second half on a Travis Walton jumper with 8:45 remaining. But the Jayhawks held a 60-55 lead with 3:22 left. The Spartans then scored eight straight points, capped by a Kalin Lucas three-point play with 48 seconds remaining. He then made all four free throw attempts in the final 26 seconds to secure victory, finishing with 18 points and seven assists. Sherron Collins led Kansas with 20 points, while Cole Aldrich added 17 points and 14 rebounds. The Spartans would go on to advance to the 2009 NCAA title game before falling to North Carolina.
Kansas returns three senior starters (Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey) from last year's squad that advanced to the NCAA championship game, won the school's eighth-straight Big 12 regular-season championship and finished 32-7 overall ... Johnson is the team's leading returning scorer, having averaged 10.2 points per game last season .... Withey was the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, breaking the Kansas and Big 12 Conference single-season record with 140 blocks, including an NCAA Tournament-record 31 blocked shots in six games ... Conversely, Kansas also has nine freshmen on its roster, including redshirt starter Ben McLemore ... After holding opponents to .380 field-goal percentage defense, ranking third in the nation, including .340 from 3-point range, the Jayhawks continued the strong defensive effort in the season-opener, allowing Southeast Missouri State to shoot just .290 from the field (.250 from 3-point range), while blocking 10 shots.
GM. 1 RECAP UCONN 66 - MICHIGAN STATE 62
UConn defeated Michigan State, 66-62, in the Armed Forces Classic, played in Hangar 5 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Connecticut hit 11 of its first 12 shots, and 14 of its first 17 to race out to a 34-18 lead at the 7:49 mark. Michigan State then found its footing, and narrowed the gap to 40-33 at the half. UConn's Shabazz Napier scored 14 first-half points, as the Huskies shot 58.6 percent from the field. Keith Appling's 11 points led the Spartans, who shot just 38.2 percent from the field.
The Spartans had a strong start to the second half, opening on a 13-5 run to take a brief 46-45 lead, but UConn reclaimed the advantage on its next possession. The Huskies held that lead until the 5:43 mark when Appling converted a Branden Dawson steal into a transition layup and three-point play, giving MSU a 58-56 advantage. Napier responded with an open 3-pointer, and after a couple of empty Spartan possessions, Ryan Boatright added a three of his own to give UConn a 62-58 advantage. The Spartans had two opportunities to tie the game in the final 90 seconds, but both shots rimmed out, and Napier sealed the game hitting four free throws in the final 13 seconds.
Napier led all scorers with 25 points, while Appling paced the Spartans with 17. Dawson posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, adding a career-high five steals.
MSU VS. UCONN NOTES
* Branden Dawson recorded his fourth career double-double, leading all Spartans.
* Derrick Nix grabbed 11 rebounds, his first double-figure effort since his Spartan debut.
* The Spartans grabbed nearly 50 percent of their misses, recording 20 offensive rebounds, compared to just 22 defensive boards for the Huskies, resulting in 15-1 edge in second-chance points.
* Connecticut hit 14 of its first 17 shots, and just 11 of its final 37.
* Gary Harris scored 11 points in his Spartan debut, nine of which came in the second half. The 11 points are tied for the 11th-best debut by a Spartan freshman.
* Denzel Valentine grabbed eight rebounds, the fifth-best debut for a Spartan freshman.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
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).
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. On the other hand, however, only five Spartans entered the season having 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 95-29 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 68 career rejections. He needs five blocks to tie Adam Ballinger (73) for 10th place, and seven 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 412-170 (.708), 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 (.708). 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.