Nov. 19, 2012
THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State continues play in the Spartan Showcase presented by Auto Owners Insurance, hosting Boise State. It will be the second game in three days for both teams, as both the Spartans and Broncos won on Sunday. MSU is 1-0 in the Showcase, while BSU is 3-0.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. Nix Attacks The Glass
Through three games, Derrick Nix leads the Spartans and the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 10.0 caroms per contest. 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. Two games later, he equalled the 11-board effort against Texas Southern.
2. Harris In Exclusive Company
Freshman Gary Harris is Michigan State's leading scorer, averaging 16.0 points per contest. The season got off to a slow start with Harris scoring just two points in the first half of the season opener vs. UConn, but he bounced back with nine in the second half to finish with 11. Against Kansas, Harris scored 18 points, and he followed with a game-high and season-high 19 against Texas Southern. Harris is just the third freshman in MSU history to score in double figures in his first three games, joining Sam Vincent (1981-82) and Raymar Morgan (2006-07). In fact, Morgan scored in double-figures in his first six games. Harris' 16.0 ppg scoring average is the best three-game average for any Spartan freshman to start a season in the Izzo era. For his efforts, he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Nov. 19.
3. Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded 13 steals through the first three games of the season (4.3 spg), pacing the Big Ten. As a freshman, Dawson collected 29 steals in 31 games. For comparison, Draymond Green led the 2011-12 Spartans with 54 steals.
4. There's An App For That
Keith Appling entered the season as Michigan State's leading returning scorer and assist distributor, and the junior guard has picked up right where he left off in 2011-12. Through three games, Appling leads the Spartans in assists (3.7 apg) and ranks tied for second in scoring (13.3 ppg). One area where Appling has improved over last season is his outside shooting, as he is shooting .556 (5-of-9) from 3-point range, compared to .250 (24-of-96) in 2011-12.
5. MSU In November
Michigan State has an all-time record of 97-29 in games played in the month of November. This includes a 68-3 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 46-0 all-time at home in November.
MSU VS. BOISE STATE NOTES
Leon Rice (Washington State, '86) is 38-30 is in his third season as a Division I head coach, all at Boise State. Rice joined the Broncos following 11 seasons at Gonzaga, where he had served as the associate head coach with the Bulldogs from 2007-10. His coaching career also includes stints as an assistant coach at Oregon, Northern Colorado and Yakima Valley College, later serving as co-head coach and then head coach at YVC.
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 1-0, defeating Boise State, 71-59, on Nov. 29, 1982, at Boise. Sam Vincent led Jud Heathcote's Spartans with 16 points. MSU is 8-5 all-time against current members of the Mountain West conference.
About Boise State
Boise State's roster features players from eight different states, plus Washington, D.C., and three foreign countries ... Associate head coach Dave Wojcik is the brother of former MSU assistant Doug Wojcik. Dave was on Doug's staff at Tulsa ... The Broncos feature an eight-man rotation, with each of the eight players averaging 12.7 minutes or more ... BSU returns four of their five starters, and each of the top six scorers from a year ago ... Last season, Bronco freshmen combined to start 51 games ... Boise State was picked to finish eighth in the Mountain West in 2012-13 by the league's media.
Spartan Showcase Presented By Auto Owners Insurance Update
The Spartan Showcase presented by Auto Owners Insurance is a five-team, round-robin event, featuring Michigan State, Boise State, Louisiana, Oakland and Texas Southern. The Spartans will play their four games in the showcase in a span of eight days: Texas Southern (Nov. 18), Boise State (Nov. 20), Oakland (Nov. 23), and Louisiana (Nov. 25). Through Sunday Nov. 18, Boise State is 3-0 in the Showcase, MSU is 1-0, Oakland is 0-2, Louisiana is 1-2 and Texas Southern is 1-2.
GM. 3 RECAP MICHIGAN ST. 69 - TEXAS SOUTHERN 41
Michigan State defeated Texas Southern, 69-41 in the Spartans' home opener. Omar Strong opened the scoring with a 3-pointer for TSU, but that was one of the few Tiger highlights. MSU quickly responded with an 11-0 run, with nine of the points being scored by Spartan freshmen Gary Harris, Matt Costello and Denzel Valentine. TSU never got closer than six points after that. MSU put the game away with a 17-2 run over the final 6:53 of the contest to take a 40-19 lead at the half. The game was never closer than 20 points in the second half.
MSU VS. TEXAS SOUTHERN NOTES
* MSU recorded its 36th-straight victory in a home opener.
* Tom Izzo improved to 18-0 in home openers.
* Adreian Payne moved into 10th place all-time at Michigan State with 74 career blocks.
* MSU held a 46-10 advantage in points in the paint, and an 18-0 edge in fast break points.
* Branden Dawson tied his career high with five steals, equalling the mark he established in the season opener against UConn.
* MSU committed a season-low 12 turnovers.
* Alex Gauna made his first career start.
* After missing both exhibition games and the first two games of the season, freshman Matt Costello made his Spartan debut, recording four points and three rebounds.
* Michigan State connected on 55.2 percent of its shots in the first half, but just 38.7 percent in the second.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have made key contributions just two games into their Spartan careers. Harris leads the squad in scoring (16.0 ppg), and shots (35) and ranks second in minutes (30.0 mpg). Although averaging just 4.0 ppg, Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (3.3 apg), second in blocks (1.3 bpg), fourth in rebounds (4.0 rpg) and fifth in minutes (23.3 mpg).
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 448 of 584 opponents (.767), posting a 354-94 (.790) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded all three opponents this season, posting a +9.0 margin, including averaging 13.7 offensive rebounds per game.
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). Through three games this season, MSU is allowing opponents to shoot .384 from the field, including .283 from 3-point range.
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 164 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 (147), Duke (143) and Connecticut (137).
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. In fact, the Spartans had flown more than 9500 miles prior to their home opener.
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.
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), Wisconsin (No. 20), and Michigan State (No. 22), are all ranked in the most recent USA Today Coaches Poll (Nov. 12), 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.
Payne's Block Party
With two blocks against Texas Southern, junior center Adreian Payne moved into the MSU career blocks Top 10 with 74 career rejections, passing Adam Ballinger (73) for 10th place. Payne needs one more block to tie Andre Hutson (75) for ninth. He equalled his career high with four blocks against Kansas. Paul Davis is eighth on the career list with 87 blocks.
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.
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 414-170 (.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.