Nov. 14, 2013
THE OPENING TIP
Fresh off a win over No. 1 Kentucky in the Champions Classic, Michigan State returns home to host a pair of games in regional round play of the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. First up, the Spartans host Columbia in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. The Lions enter the contest with a 1-1 record.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. Breslin Advantage
Michigan State is 328-46 (.877) at home all-time since Breslin Center opened in 1989, including 171-35 (.830) in Big Ten play. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 254-31 (.891) at Breslin, including a 130-22 (.855) conference record. MSU has won 35 of the last 37 games at Breslin. The Spartans have won 70 of the last 71 non-conference home games, and 71 straight games against unranked non-conference opponents at Breslin.
2. MSU In November
Michigan State has an all-time record of 102-30 in games played in the month of November. This includes a 72-3 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 50-0 all-time at home in November.
3. On The Run
Michigan State is eager to get out in transition this season, even more so than normal. Speaking at MSU's annual media day, Izzo told the assembled media "I think we should be a team that can run, run, run and run." With a pair of healthy wings in Gary Harris and Branden Dawson, a fast point guard in Keith Appling, big men such as Adreian Payne and Gavin Schilling that excel in transition, and a deep, talented bench, Michigan State will look to push the pace at every opportunity. Through two games, MSU is averaging 88.0 points per game, including 30.5 points in transition. This includes a dominating 21-2 edge in fast break points against Kentucky.
4. Spartan Defense
Michigan State has held opponents below 40 percent shooting for the year in each of the last two seasons, limiting opponents to .390 FG% last year (ranking 22nd in the nation) and .379 FG% in 2011-12 (ranking second in the nation). It's the first time the Spartans have held opponents below 40 percent in back-to-back seasons since MSU did it three straight seasons from 1999-2000 to 2001-02. MSU's first two opponents are shooting .352 from the floor, including just .241 from 3-point range.
5. Dawson's Energy On Display
Branden Dawson didn't miss a game last season despite tearing his ACL at the end of his freshman year, and yet he wasn't functioning at 100 percent. Early indications in 2013-14 are that Dawson is a much more active player, exhibiting the rare combination of strength and athleticism that rank him among the Big Ten's elite. He is currently averaging a double-double with 10.0 points (fourth on the team), and a team-best 10.5 rpg. His tip-in with five seconds remaining sealed the win over No. 1 Kentucky.
ABOUT THE COACHES VS. CANCER CLASSIC
The Philips Norelco Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic includes 12 teams, with Michigan State, Oklahoma, Seton Hall and Virginia Tech serving as the regional hosts. Regional round action takes place from Nov. 9-18, with the four hosts advancing to the championship rounds, Nov. 22-23, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The remainder of the field will participate in a series of round-robin series at one of two sub-host sites. The Coaches vs. Cancer program (www.coachesvscancer.org) is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (www.NABC.org) that empowers basketball coaches, their teams, and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer. The program leverages the personal experiences, community leadership, and professional excellence of basketball coaches nationwide to increase cancer awareness and promote healthy living through year-round awareness efforts, fundraising activities, and advocacy programs. Since 1993, the initiative has raised more than $87 million dollars to fund groundbreaking research, provide up-to-date cancer information, advocate for public health policies and deliver services to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
MSU VS. COLUMBIA NOTES
Kyle Smith (Hamilton, '92) is 43-45 in his fourth season at Columbia. His coaching career also includes stints as an assistant coach at St. Mary's College (2002-10), Air Force Academy (2001-02) and the University of San Diego (1992-2000). Last season, he led the Lions to a pair of victories over 2013 NCAA Tournament squads, defeating Villanova and Harvard.
This is the first-ever meeting between Michigan State and Columbia. The Spartans are 17-4 all-time against Ivy League opponents, as Columbia and Yale are the only schools MSU has not faced. Columbia is 10-15 against teams currently in the Big Ten.
Columbia is 6-41 all-time against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, although the Lions have never faced an opponent ranked No. 2 ... Columbia is led in scoring by sophomore Grant Mullins, who is coming off a 23-point effort against Manhattan, with 21 points coming in the second half. Through two games, Mullins is shooting 68.8 percent from the floor, 55.6 percent from 3-point range and owns a 4.0 assist-to-turnover ratio ... One season after finishing 17th in the nation in turnovers, committing just 10.9 per game, Columbia averages just 11.5 this season ... Columbia's roster features players from seven states and two foreign countries.
GM. 2 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 78 - KENTUCKY 74
Michigan State defeated Kentucky, 78-74, in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. The Spartans jumped out to a dominating start, scoring the game's first 10 points. Late in the first half, MSU pushed the lead up to 15 points before taking a 44-32 lead into the break. Michigan State shot 58.1 percent in the first half, as Gary Harris had 15 points and Adreian Payne had 12 in the stanza. James Young led Kentucky with 15 first-half points of his own. Trailing 59-48 midway through the second half, UK went on an 11-1 run, pulling within a single point. By the 4:41 mark, Kentucky had pulled even at 66. On MSU's next possession, Denzel Valentine found Keith Appling open in the corner for a 3-pointer. Harris followed with a steal at midcourt, and drove for the layup, pushing the Spartan lead back up to five points. MSU then scored its next five points at the foul line, but clung to just a two-point lead in the final minute as UK's Julius Randle scored his 27th point of the game and 22nd of the half. On MSU's final possession, Valentine drove for a layup. His attempt was off the mark, but Branden Dawson was left unattended and tipped in the ball, giving the Spartans a 78-74 lead with five seconds remaining. Harris scored just five points in the second half, and Payne had just three, but Appling scored 15 of his team-high 22 points after the break.
MSU VS. KENTUCKY NOTES
* MSU improved to 4-19 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25.
* Tom Izzo recorded his third win over a No. 1 team - all since 2007.
* Michigan State improved to 2-1 in the Champions Classic, tied for the event"s best record.
* Michigan State held a decisive 21-2 edge in fast break points.
* MSU recorded 13 steals, compared to just 1 for Kentucky, posting an 18-9 edge in points off turnovers.
* With Keith Appling scoring 22 points, he's totaled 63 points in three Champions Classic games (21.0 ppg), the greatest career total in the event's history.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State's first of 16 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 177 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 (159), Kentucky (152), Duke (152) and Connecticut (142).
Michigan State returns six of its top seven scorers from last season, in featuring one of the nation's most experienced rosters to start the season. The Spartans return 84.2 percent of their scoring, 79.3 percent of their rebounding and 84.0 percent of their assists. Five returning Spartans started 15 or more games last season, including four with 24 or more starts. Six returners played 500 or more minutes last season. By comparison, entering last year, just five Spartans had played more than 350 minutes in their career.
Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten will make a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball, an honor bestowed on it by ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman on Nov. 5. Not only are Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State all ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll preseason Top 10, Wisconsin and Indiana are also ranked, while Iowa is just outside the Top 25. Last season, seven of the 12 league teams participated in the NCAA Tournament, with a total of nine in postseason play.
An Efficient Harris
Following a season that saw him earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, Gary Harris is looking for an even better season as a sophomore. After opting to return to Michigan State for his sophomore season rather than enter the NBA Draft, Harris enters 2013-14 as the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year honoree and a popular pick for preseason All-America accolades. He opened the season by recording his first career double-double with 20 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and dishing out a career-high six assists. He followed that effort with another 20-point contest against No. 1 Kentucky.
Improved Outside Shooting
Through two games, Michigan State is shooting .395 from 3-point range (15-of-38). Gary Harris has hit five 3-pointers, while Keith Appling, Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine each have made three. Last season, the Spartans shot .338 from 3-point range, hitting 177-of-523. The 2003-04 squad was the best shooting team of the Tom Izzo era, shooting .401, while the 1989-90 squad shot a school-record .431.
Appling Runs The Team
Senior Keith Appling is in his third season as Michigan State's starting point guard, gaining more confidence each season. He's ranked in the Top 10 in the Big Ten in assists in each of the last two seasons, but he spoke this offseason about becoming better at running his team, gaining praise from Coach Izzo for his development. He's averaging 6.0 assists per game and owns a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. In a win over No. 1 Kentucky, Appling dished out eight assists.
It's All About Boardwork
Michigan State has led the nation in rebounding in four of the last 14 seasons (2000, 2001, 2009, 2010), ranking in the Top 10 nine times and the Top 25 on 12 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding margin in conference games in 11 of the last 16 years. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 478 of 619 opponents (.772), posting a 378-100 (.791) mark in those games. Last season, the Spartans out-rebounded 32 of 36 opponents. This season, MSU owns a +12.5 rebounding margin.
Robertson Trophy Watch List
Senior forward Adreian Payne and sophomore guard Gary Harris are two of 15 players named to the 2013-14 Oscar Robertson Trophy Preseason Watch List. The preseason watch list was selected by the board of directors of the United States Basketball Writers Association. Michigan State is the only school with two players on the list of 15. The award will be presented to the national player of the year by its namesake at the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards on April 14, 2014 in Oklahoma City. The Big Ten leads all conference with four candidates as Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Michigan's Mitch McGary are also on the list.
Wooden Award Watch List
Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne have each earned a spot on the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list. The Spartans are one of four schools to have at least three players on the list. The Big Ten leads all conferences with 10 players on the list of 50. The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and the official voting ballot, which will consist of approximately 20 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation's top 10 players, will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round of the NCAA Tournament.
Cousy Award Watch List
Senior Keith Appling is one of 47 players on the watch list of candidates for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. The annual honor, named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men's college basketball. This watch list of candidates will be narrowed down to a final 20 in early February, then final five by early March. The Cousy Award winner will be
presented the award on Championship Monday in Dallas at the Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 Announcement and Press Conference.
Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine are not normally in the starting lineup, but in the eyes of Coach Izzo, they might as well be. Izzo has regularly referred to the duo as "super subs." Valentine ranks fifth on the team in both scoring (8.5 ppg) and minutes (23.5 mpg), while Trice ranks sixth in scoring (6.5 ppg) and minutes (19.0 mpg). Trice (4.5 apg) is second in assists, while Valentine (4.0 apg) is third. Both players rank tied for second on the squad with three made 3-pointers.
Strength Of Schedule
Michigan State's 2013-14 schedule promises to provide another stiff test for the Spartans. MSU will play six regular-season games against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll preseason Top 11, with non-conference games against No. 1 Kentucky and No. 11 North Carolina and two conference games against both No. 9 Michigan and No. 10 Ohio State. Wisconsin (No. 21) and Indiana (No. 24) are also ranked in the Top 25, while Big Ten foes Iowa and Illinois and non-conference opponent Georgetown also received votes in the poll. In total, the Spartans will face 15 teams that competed in postseason play, playing 19 of 31 regular-season games against postseason participants.
MSU In The Rankings
The Spartans are ranked No. 2 in both the USA Today Coaches' Poll and the Associated Press Top 25. In the various preseason rankings in magazines and web sites, the Spartans were ranked as high as No. 1 (Lindy's Sports College Basketball and Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook), while also being ranked No. 2 by USA Today Sports, the Sporting News, and Dick Vitale, No. 3 by CBSSports.com and ESPN.com, and No. 4 by Athlon Sports College Basketball.
Michigan State was announced as a unanimous preseason favorite for the conference championship at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago on Oct. 31. Michigan was picked to finish second and Ohio State was third. Spartan sophomore Gary Harris was tabbed the preseason player of the year, and senior Adreian Payne joined Harris on the preseason All-Big Ten squad.
1,000 Point Scorers
Last season, 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 1,151 career points, he ranks 35th in MSU career scoring, four points behind Lindsay Hairston (1,155 points) and 25 behind Lee Lafayette (1,176 points). With 748 points, Adreian Payne is on pace to become the next Spartan to reach 1,000 career points.
Payne's Block Party
Senior Adreian Payne is third in Michigan State history with 114 career blocks, just three blocks behind Draymond Green, who ranks second with 117. Drew Naymick is the MSU career leader with 134 blocks. Payne blocked a career-best five shots in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament against Memphis, en route to 46 on the season, good for the sixth-best single-season effort in school history.
In addition to the predicted team success, several Spartans have been the recipient of preseason honors. Senior Adreian Payne was named first-team All-American by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, while earning third-team honors from Athlon Sports and CBSSports.com. Sophomore Gary Harris was selected as a first-team All-American by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, while being tabbed as a second-team All-American by USA Today Sports, Athlon Sports and CBSSports.com. Harris and Payne are both consensus selections for preseason All-Big Ten honors, but senior Keith Appling and junior Branden Dawson have also earned spots on various all-conference teams.
The Fifth Starter
Most of Michigan State's starting lineup is pretty-much etched in stone as Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne all return from the 2012-13 starting lineup. But the fifth spot is a little bit more unsettled. Sophomore Matt Costello earned the start in the season opener, along with the two exhibition games, totaling six points, three rebounds and three blocks against McNeese State. But redshirt junior Alex Gauna and Gavin Schilling are also in contention for the spot. In two games, the trio is averaging a combined 10.0 points and 9.0 rebounds
Michigan State could feature as many as three freshmen in its playing group, including red-shirt freshman Kenny Kaminski, and true freshmen Alvin Ellis III and Gavin Schilling. Kaminski redshirted last season following a shoulder injury he suffered last fall. He provides a big man with excellent shooting ability for the Spartans. Ellis III and Schilling were actually prep teammates as juniors at Chicago De La Salle High School before Schilling transferred to Findlay Prep in Nevada for his senior season. Ellis III provides a solid all-around presence on the perimeter, while Schilling provides great strength and quickness in the post. Both Ellis III and Schilling were added during the spring signing period in 2013.
A Look Back At 2012-13
Michigan State advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the last six seasons, matching Kansas for the most in the nation during that stretch. MSU posted a 27-9 record, including a 13-5 mark in the Big Ten, finishing one game out of a conference championship. Adreian Payne, Gary Harris and Keith Appling each earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, while Harris was selected Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
THE BOOK ON Tom Izzo
In his 19th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 441-178 (.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 18 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 (.721), 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 18 seasons, Tom Izzo won 439 games, ranking fourth in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 18 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.