Dec. 6, 2011
The Opening Tip
The Spartans put their six-game winning streak on the line as they welcome Central Connecticut to Breslin Center on Wednesday. Having established its defensive reputation through November, Michigan State opened its December schedule with one of its best offensive performances in recent memory, scoring 110 points and shooting 61.3 percent from the field. A win over CCSU would be the 300th victory for MSU at Breslin Center, where the Spartans are 299-44 (.872) all-time since the building opened in 1989.
The Starting Five
1. Winning Streak
Michigan State is riding a six-game winning streak. Last year, MSU's longest winning streak was just three games to open the season. This is MSU's longest win streak since winning 10 straight from Dec 2009-Jan 2010. During the current streak, MSU is averaging 76.7 points and shooting .484 from the field, while holding opponents to 50.0 points on .337 shooting.
2. It's All About Boardwork
After leading the nation in rebounding margin in both 2009 (+9.3) and 2010 (+8.6), Michigan State ranked 48th in the nation last season at +4.0. The Spartans have shown a better effort in 2011-12, out-rebounding all eight opponents by a +13.3 margin, including four by 15 or more, leading the Big Ten and the nation (through Dec. 4). The Spartans have led the nation in rebounding margin in four of the last 12 seasons, ranking in the top 10 seven times and the top 25 on 10 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding margin in 11 of the last 14 years. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 424 of 552 opponents (.768), posting a 334-90 (.788) mark in those games.
3. Three-Headed Scoring Attack
Three Spartans have emerged as Michigan State's leading scorers, as Draymond Green (14.4 ppg), Keith Appling (12.6 ppg) and Brandon Wood (10.9 ppg) are all averaging double figures. It's been more pronounced over the last three games as the trio is averaging a combined 48.7 points (Green-17.7, Appling-16.0, Wood-15.0). As a group, they outscored Florida State, 56-49.
4. Appling's Big Week
Keith Appling was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 5 after a pair of games that saw him establish new career highs in scoring (24 pts. vs. FSU), rebounding (9 vs. UNO) and assists (7 vs. UNO). For the week, he averaged 18.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, and 3.5 assists, shooting .619 from the field, .571 from 3-point range and 7-7 from the foul line. It was the first weekly honor for the sophomore guard from Detroit, who's making the transition from the wing to the point this season.
5. Success At Breslin
Michigan State is 299-44 (.872) all-time since Breslin Center opened in 1989. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 225-29 (.886) at Breslin.
MSU vs. CCSU Notes
This is the first meeting between Central Connecticut and Michigan State. Michigan State is 3-2 all-time against current members of the Northeast Conference, including 2-0 under Tom Izzo, having defeated Mount St. Mary's in the 1999 NCAA Tournament and Robert Morris in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Howie Dickenman (CCSU, '70) is 241-210 in his 16th season as a collegiate head coach, all at Central Connecticut. He is a four-time NEC Coach of the Year and has led the Blue Devils to three NEC titles.
Blue Devil Notes
The trio of Ken Horton, Robby Ptacek and Kyle Vinales combines for 64.6 points per game. CCSU averages 80.4 as a team ... CCSU is shooting a strong .404 from 3-point range, ranking 35th in the nation, while ranking 30th in the nation with 8.4 3-point field goals per game ... CCSU also ranks in the top 35 nationally in scoring offense (29th, 80.4) and assists per game (32nd, 16.0) ... Ken Horton is the reigning NEC Player of the Year, and ranks eighth in the nation with his 23.3 ppg scoring average ... Kyle Vinales is a Detroit native, having attended North Farmington Hills High School before attending Phelps School (Malvern, Pa.) for one year.
Gm. 8 Recap Michigan St. 110 - Nebraska Omaha 68
Michigan State put on an impressive offensive performance in a 110-68 win over Nebraska Omaha. UNO scored the game's first basket, a 3-pointer, only to watch MSU respond with a 22-2 run. By halftime, MSU extended the lead to 33 points at 59-26. The Spartans shot 63.2 percent in the first half, holding the Mavericks to just 29.4 percent. Draymond Green (13 points), Keith Appling (11 points) and Brandon Wood (10 points) all reached double-figures before the break. The Spartans held a 32-9 rebounding advantage in the first half. The second half proved to be more of the same, as MSU cruised to victory.
MSU vs. UNO Notes
* Draymond Green (23 points) and Brandon Wood (20 points) tallied season highs in points.
* Keith Appling notched career bests in rebounds (9) and assists (7).
* MSU shot season-high percentages from the field (.613), the foul line (.909) and the 3-point arc (.500).
* MSU held a remarkable +38 rebound margin (54-16). The Spartans grabbed 17 offensive rebounds compared to just 13 defensive rebounds for the Mavericks.
* MSU recorded 35 assists, tied for the second-best effort in school history.
* Michigan State committed a season-low 10 turnovers.
* Michigan State's 110 points tied the seventh best effort in school history and were the third-highest total of the Tom Izzo era.
MSU Basketball Notes
Strong Spartan Defense
Michigan State's defensive effort has been impressive in the first month of the season. The Spartans are allowing just 55.1 points (ranking 11th in the nation through Dec. 4) on .363 shooting (15th in nation), including .274 from 3-point range (38th in nation). MSU also ranks 35th in the nation in steals (9.1 spg). Those numbers are especially impressive when you consider MSU has played No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Duke. The Spartans rank third in the Big Ten in scoring defense, second in field-goal percentage defense and second in 3-point field-goal percentage defense. During MSU's six-game win streak, the Spartans are allowing just 50.0 points on .337 shooting, including .237 from 3-point range.
Finding The Long Distance Connection
Through the first six games of the season, Michigan State was shooting just .269 from 3-point range (32-119). In the last two games, however, the Spartans have shown signs of breaking out of their slump, connecting on .457 of their shots (16-35) from behind the arc.
One of the reasons that MSU is able to pace the nation in rebounding margin is that its guards have been strong on the glass. The Spartans' starting backcourt of Keith Appling (5.0 rpg), Brandon Wood (4.5 rpg) and Branden Dawson (3.7 rpg) averages 13.2 boards per contest, as Appling ranks tied for second on the team and Wood ranks fourth. Over the last two games, Appling and Wood are both averaging 8.0 caroms per contest.
Six of the 11 players in the Spartan playing group are seeing their first action in a Michigan State uniform (Russell Byrd, Branden Dawson, Alex Gauna, Brandan Kearney, Travis Trice, Brandon Wood). The six are averaging 39.9 percent of the scoring and 43.1 percent of the minutes. There are just two players on the 2011-12 roster (Keith Appling and Draymond Green) who averaged more than 20 minutes per game last season for MSU.
Climbing The Rebounding Charts
With 788 career rebounds, Draymond Green ranks 10th in MSU history, 15 behind Lindsay Hairston (803) in ninth place. He also has a shot at becoming just the fourth player in MSU history with 1,000 career boards, and the third player with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, joining Greg Kelser and Johnny Green. Given that the Spartans play 31 regular season games, at least one game in the Big Ten Tournament and possibly at least one postseason game, Green would need to average 9.03 rebounds this season to reach 1,000 for his career.
Four different Spartans have led Michigan State in scoring through the first eight games of the season. Draymond Green (four times), Keith Appling (twice), Branden Dawson and Austin Thornton have each paced MSU. Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, Travis Trice and Brandon Wood also have scored in double figures at least once this season, making eight different players to score 10 or more in a game.
The Turnover Story
One area of concern for the Spartans has been the turnovers through the first eight games. MSU is committing 15.6 per game (although just 11.5 in the last two games), while forcing 16.3 by its opponents. In its most recent game, MSU committed a season-low 10 turnovers against Nebraska Omaha. The Spartans are averaging 16.8 points per game off opponent turnovers, compared to 12.9 points by opponents off MSU turnovers. The Spartans are 4-0 when committing fewer turnovers than their opponent, but 2-2 when they have more.
Three different Spartans have recorded a double-double this season. Draymond Green leads the way with four double-doubles in the season's first eight games. Adreian Payne posted a double-double vs. Texas Southern and Brandon Wood recorded one vs. Florida State.
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of 35.8-20.5, out-scoring six of its eight opponents. The Spartans even out-scored No. 1 North Carolina in the paint, 34-32, despite the Tar Heels having what some consider to be the premier frontline in the country.
Getting To The Foul Line
Over the first five games of the season, Michigan State was shooting just .629 from the foul line. That has improved recently, as the Spartans are shooting .765 over the last three games. For the season, MSU is shooting .669 from the foul line, averaging 21.9 attempts per game.
The 1,000-Point Club
With a second-half tip-in vs. Florida State, Draymond Green became the 42nd player in MSU history to reach the 1,000 point mark for his career. With 1,031 points, he ranks 41st in MSU history, needing 24 to move past Marcus Sanders (1,054 points) into 40th place in MSU history.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Through the first eight games of the season, Derrick Nix is averaging 5.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 17.6 minutes per contest. Following his 11-point effort in 23 minutes vs. Milwaukee, Coach Tom Izzo called him one of his most reliable players. That's a contrast to last season when Nix averaged just 0.4 points and 2.0 rebounds, playing in just five of the team's first eight games, as he did not accompany the team to the Maui Invitational.
Another Strong Non-Conference Schedule
While much of the attention is directed at back-to-back games vs. North Carolina and Duke, there is more meat to MSU's non-conference schedule. Other highlights include a Nov. 30 game vs. Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, a top-three pick in the ACC, and a Dec. 10 trip to Gonzaga. In total, seven of MSU's 13 non-conference opponents appeared in the 2011 postseason, including five teams in the NCAA Tournament. Including Big Ten foes, 15 Spartan opponents appeared in last year's postseason, including 11 in the NCAA Tournament.
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season (including 2011-12 - through Dec. 5), the year of Michigan State's first of 14 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 148 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 (145), Connecticut (139), Kentucky (138) and Duke (136).
Toughest Start Ever
Michigan State opens the season with the toughest start in the nation with back-to-back neutral-site contests vs. No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Duke. MSU is the first team to open the season against North Carolina and Duke in back-to-back games since Wake Forest and North Carolina State did it in November 1976. Michigan State also has never opened a season with two games against ranked opponents.
Big Ten Contenders
Michigan State was picked third by a panel of media in the 2011-12 Big Ten preseason poll. Ohio State and Wisconsin were picked to finish first and second, respectively. Draymond Green found a spot on the preseason all-conference team, joining Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, Purdue's Robbie Hummel, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor.
Draymond On Awards Lists
Senior forward Draymond Green is a familiar face among all the new ones in the Michigan State lineup. A three-year captain, Green is on the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 and the Naismith Award Watch list. He's also one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
An Experienced New Face
Although he had never played a minute for Michigan State prior to this season, senior Brandon Wood brings a wealth of college basketball experience to the Spartan lineup. A two-time All-Horizon League performer at Valparaiso the last two seasons, Wood transfered to MSU in May after receiving his sports marketing and business degree. NCAA rules allow an institution to apply for a waiver to allow a student-athlete to transfer without sitting out a season, provided the student-athlete has earned a bachelor's degree, has eligibility remaining and is enrolling in a graduate-level program. In two seasons at Valpo, Wood scored 1,117 points, including averaging 17.7 ppg as a sophomore and 16.7 ppg as a junior. He's also performed at a high level against some of the nation's best teams, scoring 30 points vs. North Carolina, 24 vs. Michigan State and 21 vs. Purdue as a sophomore, followed by 20 vs. Purdue as a junior. This year, Wood's started all eight games for MSU, ranking third on the team in scoring at 10.9 ppg.
In The Rankings
Seven different Spartan opponents are ranked in at least one of the two polls, including Ohio State (2 AP/2 USA Today), North Carolina (4/6), Duke (7/5), Wisconsin (14/16), Michigan (20/19), Gonzaga (23/t-22) and Illinois (24/t-22). MSU is receiving votes in both polls.
Keith Appling and Draymond Green both benefitted from their experiences with USA Basketball over the summer. Green was a member of the World University Games team, averaging 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds, ranking second on the team in boards, and serving as a distributor from the forward position. Appling played with the FIBA U19 World Championship team, averaging 4.1 points and 10.3 minutes per contest, gaining some valuable experience at the point.
Same Name, Different Spellings
Among MSU's newcomers, three have the same first name, but it's spelled three different ways. Branden Dawson, Brandan Kearney and Brandon Wood each have a different second-to-last lettter in the first name. Pay close attention to eliminate typos.
The Book On Tom Izzo
In his 17th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 389-163 (.705), and 183-85 (.683) 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 16 seasons as a head coach, Izzo has won National Coach of the Year honors four times, including the Clair Bee Award in 2005 and NABC honors in 2001. 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 earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and 2009.
Among The Big Ten's Best
Tom Izzo's .683 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks fourth all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700) and former Purdue coach Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Knight ranks first at .734, followed by Ryan (.729), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Lambert (.709) and Izzo (.705). With 183 conference victories, Izzo ranks sixth all-time.
Izzo Among Best Ever
Through his first 16 seasons, Tom Izzo won 383 games, ranking sixth in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 16 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 (Tulsa). 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.