Nov. 24, 2012
The Opening Tip
Michigan State wraps up a busy week with its fourth game in the last eight days. This also marks the final game of the Spartan Showcase presented by Auto Owners Insurance. Louisiana also has been busy, as this game marks its third in the last five days, in three different states.
The Starting Five
1. Success At Breslin
Michigan State is 314-45 (.875) all-time since Breslin Center opened in 1989, including 163-34 (.827) in Big Ten play. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 240-30 (.889) at Breslin, including a 122-21 (.853) conference record. MSU has won 21 of the last 22 games at Breslin, including 12 straight non-conference games. The Spartans have won 64 of the last 65 non-conference home games, and 66 straight games against unranked non-conference opponents at Breslin.
2. Payne's Efficiency
Junior center Adreian Payne paces the Big Ten with a remarkable .760 field-goal percentage (19-of-25), while also shooting .857 (6-of-7) from the foul line. Payne is averaging 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds. The main thing limiting Payne's production is foul trouble, as he's played more than 20 minutes in just one game, recording 15 points and nine rebounds in that contest against Oakland. In the other four games, Payne picked up two first-half fouls and had to sit for large stretches.
3. In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of 37.2-25.2, out-scoring three of its five opponents. MSU has dominated the paint in two of its last three games, out-scoring Texas Southern, 46-10, and Oakland, 40-16.
4. Spartans Shooting Better
Michigan State got off to a cold shooting start this season, failing to shoot better than 39 percent in either half in the opener against Connecticut. In the eight halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better six times. Through the first five games, MSU is shooting .485 from the field, ranking fourth in the Big Ten. Individually, Adreian Payne paces the conference at .760 (19-of-25).
5. 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 five games, Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (16.4 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg). One area where Appling has improved over last season is his outside shooting, as he is shooting .500 (9-of-18) from 3-point range, compared to .250 (24-of-96) in 2011-12. His play has not gone unnoticed by his head coach, as Tom Izzo remarked "I'm not an easy guy to please. But I'm really excited for him and proud of him for what he's doing right now in an incredible way."
MSU vs. Louisiana Notes
The all-time series between Michigan State and Louisiana is tied at 1. The two teams last met in 1982 when Louisiana was known as Southwestern Louisiana. MSU claimed a 90-84 victory on Dec. 3, 1968, as Lee Lafayette paced the Spartans with 32 points. On Dec. 28, 1982, the Cajuns defeated the Spartans, 71-66, in the opening round of the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans.
Bob Marlin (Mississippi State, `81) is 257-165 in 15 seasons as a Division I head coach, including 32-34 in his third season at Louisiana. Previously, Marlin posted a 225-131 mark in 12 seasons at Sam Houston State, leading the Bearkats to two NCAA Tournaments in 2003 and 2010. Last year, he led the Cajuns to the CollegeInsider.com Tourney, marking the school's first postseason appearance since 2003. Prior to becoming a Division I head coach, Marlin posted a 123-35 record in five seasons at Pensacola Junior College, capturing the 1993 NJCAA National Championship. His coaching career also includes stints as an assistant at Houston Baptist, Marshall and Alabama.
Ragin' Cajun Notes
The MSU contest marks the fifth game in 10 days for the Ragin' Cajuns, including games in four different states ... Louisiana has trailed at the half in four of five games, but has out-scored the opponents in the second half by a +6.2 margin, shooting .479 from the field, including .396 from 3-point range ... A transfer from Mississippi State, freshman Shawn Long leads UL in scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg), including two double-doubles this season ... The Cajuns have forced opponents into 19.2 turnovers per game, while recording 8.8 steals per contest.
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 Friday, Nov. 23, MSU is 3-0 in the Showcase, Boise State is 3-1, Oakland is 1-3, Texas Southern is 1-3 and Louisiana is 1-2.
Gm. 5 Recap Michigan State 70 - Oakland 52
Michigan State used a late 15-1 run to break open a close game and emerge with a 70-52 victory over Oakland. The game was tight early, until a 10-1 run midway through the first half gave the Spartans a 20-10 advantage. MSU pushed the lead up to 15 points late in the stanza and held a 34-21 lead at halftime. In the second half, Oakland narrowed the Spartan lead to four points at 43-39, only to watch MSU push the lead back to 12 points. The Grizzlies made one final push, as a 10-2 spurt cut the deficit back to four points at 55-51. Oakland even had two 3-point attempts that would have cut the lead to one, but neither one connected. On MSU's next possession, Derrick Nix kicked the ball out to an open Keith Appling, who nailed the 3-pointer, sparking the decisive 15-1 run. Following Appling's three, MSU's center duo of Nix and Adreian Payne scored the Spartans' next 10 points as they pulled away late.
MSU vs. Oakland Notes
* MSU shot a season-best 83.3 percent from the foul line.
* MSU held a 43-28 advantage on the glass, including out-rebounding Oakland, 27-13, in the first half.
* Denzel Valentine recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and a season-high 10 rebounds, adding a season-best six assists.
* With two blocks, Adreian Payne moved into sole possession of ninth place for MSU career blocks with 77.
* Payne also recorded season highs in points (15) and rebounds (9).
* Keith Appling recorded his second-straight 20-point game, adding a season-high six rebounds.
* For the second consecutive game, four Spartans scored in double figures.
* Derrick Nix notched his first double-figure scoring effort of the season.
* The Spartans held a 40-16 advantage in points in the paint, but were out-scored, 24-10, in points off turnovers.
MSU Basketball Notes
Harris Out Of Action
Gary Harris suffered a shoulder sprain in the first defensive possession of the game against Boise State, and will be out of action 2-3 weeks. Prior to the BSU contest, he was MSU's leading scorer, averaging 16.0 points through three games. He was just the third freshman in MSU history to score in double figures in each of his first three games.
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick Nix leads the Spartans and ranks second in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 8.2 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.
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded 16 steals through the first five games of the season (3.2 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.
MSU In November
Michigan State has an all-time record of 99-29 in games played in the month of November. This includes a 70-3 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 48-0 all-time at home in November.
Searching For A Rotation
Michigan State has used four different starting lineups through the season's first five games, as the Spartans work with different combinations. Nine players are averaging more than 15 minutes per game, and 11 are averaging six minutes or more. Finding a rotation is a chore for the Spartan coaching staff that's been made even more difficult due to injuries to Travis Trice, Matt Costello and Gary Harris.
Appling Takes Over
In three of Michigan State's four wins, Keith Appling has made key plays down the stretch to secure a Spartan victory. Against Kansas, Appling scored five points in the final 1:36, first hitting a 3-pointer to give MSU a four-point lead, and then connecting on an acrobatic driving layup with 14 seconds left to give MSU a 67-64 win. He scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half against the Jayhawks. Against Boise State, with MSU leading by two points in the final minute, Appling hit another driving layup with 14 seconds left again, this time converting on a three-point play to give MSU a 73-68 advantage. With six seconds left, he hit one of two free throws to secure the win. Most recently against Oakland, with the Golden Grizzlies having cut the lead to four points with under seven minutes left, Appling knocked down a 3-pointer to spark a 15-1 run to close the game.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have made key contributions early in their Spartan careers. Harris ranks second on the squad in scoring (12.0 ppg), and fifth in minutes (22.8 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (3.6 apg), second in blocks (0.8 bpg), fourth in rebounds (5.2 rpg) and fourth in minutes (25.8 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 450 of 586 opponents (.768), posting a 356-94 (.791) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded all five opponents this season, posting a +9.2 margin, including averaging 11.2 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 five games this season, MSU is allowing opponents to shoot .367 from the field, including .261 from 3-point range, ranking second in the Big Ten.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 56-34, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +4.4 points per game (11.2-6.8). The Spartans are averaging 11.2 offensive boards per game. MSU has 56 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 96 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .368.
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 (144) and Connecticut (137). (Through Nov. 24)
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. 3), Michigan (No. 4), Michigan State (No. 19), and Wisconsin (No. 24), are all ranked in the most recent USA Today Coaches Poll (Nov. 19), 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.
Payne's Block Party
Junior center Adreian Payne ranks ninth in MSU history with 77 career blocks. Paul Davis is eighth on the career list with 87 blocks. Earlier this season, Payne equalled his career high with four blocks against Kansas.
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 entered the year having 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.
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 416-170 (.710), 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), Izzo (.710) and Lambert (.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.