Dec. 7, 2012
THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State looks to improve on its perfect 6-0 home record as the Spartans host Loyola on Saturday afternoon. MSU has won its last two games by an average of 38.5 points, but it's facing a Loyola squad that boasts an impressive 6-2 mark on the season, including four straight wins.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. 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 454 of 590 opponents (.769), posting a 360-94 (.793) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded all nine opponents this season, posting a +10.7 margin, including averaging 12.4 offensive rebounds per game.
2. Spartan Defense
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). This season, MSU is allowing opponents to shoot .363 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten, including .303 from 3-point range. The Spartans have held their last two opponents to .286 shooting, including .217 from 3-point range.
3. Success At Breslin
Michigan State is 317-45 (.876) at home all-time since Breslin Center opened in 1989, including 163-34 (.827) in Big Ten play. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 243-30 (.890) at Breslin, including a 122-21 (.853) conference record. MSU has won 24 of the last 25 games at Breslin, including 15 straight non-conference games. The Spartans have won 67 of the last 68 non-conference home games, and 69 straight games against unranked non-conference opponents at Breslin.
4. Trice Is Back
Travis Trice played 12 minutes at Miami, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range. It was the first action for the reserve point guard since suffering a concussion and broken nose in the second half of MSU's season-opener against Connecticut in Germany. In his three games back, he's averaging 8.0 points, while shooting .615 (8-of-13) from 3-point range. His return will take some of the ball-handling duties off Keith Appling's shoulders. In the five games that Trice missed, Appling was forced to play 36.4 minutes per contest.
5. 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 16 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 10 times. Through the first nine games, MSU is shooting .484 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten.
MSU VS. LOYOLA NOTES
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Loyola-Chicago, 8-2, including a 4-0 advantage in East Lansing. The Spartans and Ramblers, however, have met just twice since 1940, with MSU winning both meetings in 2000 and 2002.
Porter Moser (Creighton, '90) is 118-126 in his ninth season as a collegiate head coach, including 13-25 in his second season at Loyola. Previously, Moser served as head coach for Arkansas-Little Rock for three seasons (2000-03), followed by a four-year stint at Illinois State (2003-07). Moser came to Loyola following four years as an assistant coach at Saint Louis.
Michigan State defeated Loyola, 80-54, on Dec. 17, 2002, in East Lansing. Chris Hill led five Spartans in double figures with 18 points, adding seven assists and seven rebounds. MSU led by just 10 points with 11:44 left in the game, but pulled away late for a 26-point victory.
Iowa transfer Cully Payne had 12 points and two rebounds on Jan. 20, 2010, at the Breslin Center as a member of the Hawkeyes ... Entering the game with a 6-2 record, the Ramblers did not record their sixth win last season until Feb. 11 ... Over the last four games, Loyola is allowing opponents just 55.0 points on .383 shooting ... Loyola's 16-player roster has accumulated only 16 combined years of post-high school basketball, tying it for the sixth-youngest team in NCAA Division I ... Senior Ben Averkamp is the only Rambler scoring in double figures, averaging 16.5 points, while shooting .511 from the field.
SPARTAN BASKETBALL RETURNS TO JENISON
Michigan State basketball returns to Jenison Field House, Dec. 14-16. The weekend begins with an Alumni Game on Friday night at 7 p.m. Rosters are subject to change, although several members of the 2000 NCAA Championship team are expected to play, along with several former NBA players including Steve Smith, Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson. Although not expected to play, Earvin "Magic" Johnson is expected to be in attendance. On Saturday, MSU hosts Tuskegee at 9 p.m., with a pre-game concert by The Commodores. On Sunday, the Spartan women host IPFW at 2 p.m. Tickets for all three events are available at MSUSpartans.com or through the Spartan Ticket Office at 1-800-GO-STATE. Tickets are $10 for the Alumni Game, $30 for the men's game and $8-14 for the women's game. The weekend celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Game of Change, when Mississippi State ignored a state prohibition against playing integrated teams and snuck out of the state to face a Loyola squad with four African-American starters in the 1963 NCAA Tournament at Jenison.
GM. 9 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 76 - ARK.-PINE BLUFF 44
Michigan State was dominating early and cruised to an easy 76-44 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Spartans scored the first 14 points of the contest, as the Golden Lions did not score until 10:12 was left in the half. MSU also held leads of 19-2, 30-4, and 33-5 in the first half, holding a 38-12 advantage at the break. Michigan State shot 50.0 percent from the field, while also grabbing 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, while holding UAPB to 15.4 percent (4-of-26) from the field. In the second half, MSU's lead never dropped below 22 points, and grew to 37 points midway through the stanza. For the game, MSU shot 50 percent and held UAPB to 27.8 percent.
MSU VS. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF NOTES
* MSU improved to 7-0 all-time against opponents from the SWAC.
* MSU held an opponent to 12 first-half points for the first time since holding Texas Southern to 12 on Nov. 18, 2011.
* MSU recorded an assist on 75 percent of its baskets (21-of-28).
* MSU grabbed 19 offensive rebounds compared to just 14 defensive boards for UAPB.
* MSU's bench outscored Arkansas-Pine Bluff's reserves, 33-5.
* Brandan Kearney recorded a career-best four steals vs. UAPB.
* Travis Trice scored a season-high 12 points vs. UAPB, while matching his career high with five assists.
* UAPB did not score until 10:12 remained in the first half, as MSU jumped out to a 14-0 lead. With 2:34 left in the first half, MSU led 33-5.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of +13.8 (36.7-22.9), out-scoring seven of its nine opponents. At times, MSU has dominated the paint, including out-scoring Texas Southern (46-10), Oakland (40-16), Miami (30-14), and Nicholls State (52-20).
Too Many Turnovers
One early area of concern for Michigan State is the number of turnovers, as the Spartans are averaging 15.3 per game, including 20 in back-to-back games against Oakland and Louisiana. Although the Spartans committed 19 in their last game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, they averaged just 10.0 turnovers in the two games before that. MSU's primary ballhandler, Keith Appling, is averaging just 2.4 per contest despite playing nearly 35 minutes per contest, posting a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio.
There's An App For That
Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (15.3 ppg - 6th Big Ten) and assists (4.2 apg - t-4th Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in seven of nine games. One area where Appling has improved over last season is his outside shooting, as he is shooting .387 (12-of-31) from 3-point range, compared to .250 (24-of-96) in 2011-12. In addition, he's establishing himself as one of the premier defenders in the nation. 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."
Harris Returns To The Court
Gary Harris suffered a shoulder sprain in the first defensive possession of the game against Boise State, and missed the two games following that one. Harris returned to action eight days later at Miami, coming off the bench to contribute 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds in 25 minutes. He has scored in double figures in all six games where he played more than one minute, and he was just the third freshman in MSU history to score in double figures in each of his first three games. He ranks second on the team in scoring at 12.0 points per contest.
Searching For A Rotation
Michigan State has used four different starting lineups through the season's first nine games, as the Spartans work with different combinations. Nine players are averaging more than 13 minutes per game, and 11 are averaging five 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. In fact, the game at Miami was the first game in which all 11 scholarship players saw action, and even then, Trice and Harris were just coming off injuries.
On March 4, 2012, Branden Dawson suffered a season-ending torn left ACL. With no swelling, he was able to have surgery two days later, putting him ahead of schedule from the beginning. The quick healing continued through the summer, and Dawson was a full participant when practice opened in mid-October. He currently ranks third on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg), third in rebounding (5.8 rpg), and second in minutes played (26.4 mpg), while ranking fifth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.603)despite being just over eight months removed from surgery. Still, it's tough to make up for missing the entire summer both in terms of conditioning and skill development.
Junior center Adreian Payne ranks fourth in the Big Ten with a .615 field-goal percentage (27-of-44). Payne is averaging 7.4 points and a team-best 7.2 rebounds, ranking fifth in the Big Ten. The main thing limiting Payne's production is foul trouble, as he's played 20 minutes or more in just four games. In five games, Payne picked up two first-half fouls, limiting his playing time.
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick Nix ranks eighth in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 6.8 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 equaled the 11-board effort against Texas Southern.
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded 20 steals through the first nine games of the season (2.2 spg), ranking third in 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.
Appling Takes Over
In three of Michigan State's six 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. 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 (23.6 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (3.0 apg), fourth in rebounds (4.3 rpg) and fourth in minutes (23.8 mpg).
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 120-78, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +4.6 points per game (13.3-8.7). The Spartans are averaging 12.4 offensive boards per game. MSU has 112 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 171 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .396.
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 (152), Kentucky (147), Duke (145) and Connecticut (138). (Through Dec. 5)
Frequent Flier Miles
With trips to Ramstein Air Base (vs. Connecticut), Atlanta (vs. Kansas) and Miami, Michigan State traveled nearly 12,000 miles in the month of November. In fact, the Spartans had flown more than 9500 miles prior to their home opener.
Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten makes a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball. Indiana (No. 1), Michigan (No. 3), Ohio State (No. 7), Illinois (No. 13), Minnesota (No. 14), and Michigan State (No. 19) are all ranked in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 (Dec. 3). To make matters more difficult for MSU, the Spartans will play a combined nine games against those five teams 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.
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.
Payne's Block Party
Junior center Adreian Payne ranks ninth in MSU history with 82 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.
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.
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.
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 419-171 (.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 (.724), 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.