Dec. 13, 2012
THE OPENING TIP
After a week of academic finals, Michigan State returns to the court to face Tuskegee in the first basketball game in Jenison Field House since 1989. The event celebrates the 50th anniversary season of the Game of Change between Mississippi State and Loyola in the 1963 NCAA Tournament.
MSU AT JENISON FIELD HOUSE
Spartans Back In Jenison
Michigan State basketball returns to Jenison Field House for the first time since 1989. Jenison Field House was the home for Spartan basketball for 50 seasons from 1940-89. The last official game played at Jenison was a 79-67 Spartan win over Wichita State on March 20, 1989, in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament. The last regular-season game was a 70-61 win over Wisconsin on March 11, 1989. In the first game ever played at Jenison, MSU defeated Tennessee, 29-20, on Jan. 6, 1940. All-time, the Spartans were 385-185 in Jenison Field House, winning five Big Ten titles (1957, 1959, 1967, 1978 and 1979), and advancing to six NCAA Tournaments (1957, 1959, 1978, 1979, 1985, 1986), capturing the 1979 NCAA Championship.
Game Of Change
Basketball's return to Jenison Field House celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Game of Change, when Mississippi State, consisting entirely of white players, defied a state prohibition against playing integrated teams and faced Loyola, which started four African-Americans, in the Mideast Region semifinals of the 1963 NCAA Tournament in Jenison Field House. On three occasions prior to that season, Mississippi State was prohibited from participating in the NCAA Tournament due to the possibility of playing a team with African-American players. But that season, Coach "Babe" McCarthy, with the support of Mississippi State President Dean Colvard, was able to sneak his team out of the state before Gov. Ross Barnett and other political leaders could prevent the Bulldogs from playing in their first NCAA Tournament game. Not only would Loyola defeat Mississippi State (61-51 on March 15, 1963), it would also go on to capture the National Championship. In 2008, the NCAA named this game as one of the 25 "defining moments" in the first 100 years of the governing body of college athletics.
The weekend begins at Jenison Field House with an Alumni Game, Friday at 7 p.m. While rosters are subject to change for the Alumni Game, the game features some of the top players from the last few decades. Three Spartans whose number hang above the Breslin Center floor are expected to play, including Steve Smith, Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson. Nine members of the 2000 NCAA Championship squad are expected to participate, including Cleaves, Peterson, Charlie Bell, Andre Hutson, David Thomas, Mat Ishbia, Steve Cherry and redshirts Jason Andreas and Adam Wolfe. In addition, Ron Charles, Terry Donnelly and Gerald Gilkie will represent the 1979 NCAA Championship team in the game. Among the other alums expected to play are NBA veterans Kevin Willis, Mike Peplowski, Anthony "Pig" Miller and Matt Steigenga.
THE STARTING FIVE (AND A SIXTH MAN)
1. 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 second in the Big Ten, including .315 from 3-point range. The Spartans have held their last three opponents to .310 shooting, including .304 from 3-point range.
2. 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 455 of 591 opponents (.770), posting a 361-94 (.793) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded all 10 opponents this season, posting a +9.8 margin, including averaging 12.0 offensive rebounds per game.
3. 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 18 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 11 times. Through the first 10 games, MSU is shooting .485 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten.
4. Harris' Immediate Impact
Gary Harris has scored in double figures in all seven 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 suffered a shoulder sprain in the first defensive possession of the game against Boise State, and missed the two games following that one. He ranks second on the team in scoring at 13.0 points per contest, and if you only consider games in which he played more than a minute, he's averaging a team-best 14.9 ppg. He is a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, earning the honor on Nov. 19 and Dec. 10. On the season, he's shooting .394 (13-33) from 3-point range, including .462 (12-of-26) over the last nine games.
5. There's An App For That
Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (14.6 ppg - 9th Big Ten) and assists (4.5 apg - t-3rd Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in seven of 10 games. One area where Appling has improved over last season is his outside shooting, as he is shooting .353 (12-of-34) 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."
6. In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of +13.2 (35.6-22.4), out-scoring eight of its 10 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).
MSU VS. TUSKEGEE NOTES
This is the first ever meeting between Michigan State and Tuskegee
Leon Douglas (Alabama, `76) is 118-118 in his ninth season as a collegiate head coach, including 84-94 in his seventh season at Tuskegee. Prior to taking over the Tuskegee program, Douglas was the head coach at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for two seasons. He's made two trips to the NCAA Division II Regional, guiding Stillman there in 2006 and Tuskegee in 2010. Last season, he guided the Golden Tigers to a 16-11 mark, capturing the SIAC regular-season championship.
Golden Tiger Notes
Tuskegee posted a 16-11 mark last season, capturing the SIAC regular-season championship ... The Golden Tigers are led in scoring by junior guard Javier McKinney at 20.2 points per game, including shooting .405 from 3-point range ... Senior guard Calvin Thomas ranks second on the team in scoring at 16.0, and also averages 5.4 rebounds per contest ... The Golden Tigers have struggled shooting the ball, connecting on 36.6 percent of its shots and 28.7 percent of its 3-pointers ... Tuskegee is averaging 18.8 offensive rebounds per contest, grabbing nearly 41 percent of its missed shots ... Tuskegee averages 10.2 steals per contest.
In 1941, the United States Army Corps established a training program at Tuskegee Institute in an effort to train black aviators. The graduates became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Prior to the Tuskegee Airmen, no African American had been a U.S. Military pilot. Tuskegee Institute was selected because of its commitment to aeronautical training. Eventually, 355 pilots who trained at Tuskegee Army Flying School served overseas with the 99th Pursuit Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group. A B-25 bomb group, the 477th Bombardment Group was also formed, but did not complete its training in time to see action in World War II. The home field for the 477th was Selfridge Field, located in Harrison Township outside Detroit. From 1941-46, close to 1,000 pilots graduated from Tuskegee Army Air Field, receiving commissions and pilot wings. On March 29, 2007, The Tuskegee Airmen, as a group, were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush. Today, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum is located in Detroit. The movie "Red Tails" was a fictionalized portrayal of their experiences during World War II. Four Airmen are expected to be in attendance Saturday night, sitting courtside with their families.
GM. 9 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 73 - LOYOLA-CHICAGO 61
Michigan State had a strong second half to bounce back from a halftime deficit and defeat Loyola, 73-61. The Spartans held a 22-12 lead with 7:57 left in the first half and appeared to be on the verge of running away with the game, but Loyola kept battling. A 25-16 MSU lead was flipped to a 30-25 deficit after a 14-0 Rambler run, as the Spartans went nearly four minutes without a point. Loyola shot 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from 3-point range in the stanza en route to a 32-30 halftime advantage. MSU outscored Loyola, 22-9, to open the half, as Gary Harris connected on three straight 3-pointers to cap the run with a personal 9-0 spurt. But just like they had in the first half, the Ramblers responded, this time with an 8-0 run cutting the lead to 54-51 with 7:13 remaining. MSU put the game away with a 14-2 run, jumping out to a 68-53 lead.
MSU VS. LOYOLA-CHICAGO NOTES
* Adreian Payne recorded his third career double-double and his second of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
* Gary Harris led the Spartans with a season-high 20 points, including 14 in the second half on 5-of-5 shooting (4-of-4 3-point FG).
* Keith Appling and Brandan Kearney combined to tally 12 assists and zero turnovers, as Kearney dished out a career-best five assists.
* Branden Dawson tied his career high with four blocks.
* Travis Trice made his first two-point field goal of the season, as the first nine field goals he made this season were all 3-pointers. On the year, he's made 10 3-pointers and one 2-pointer.
* Keith Appling matched his season high with seven assists.
* Loyola was playing in East Lansing on the 50th anniversary season of playing Mississippi State in the Game of Change during the 1963 NCAA Tournament at Jenison Field House.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
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. Over the last four games, MSU is averaging 12.8 per game, committing 19 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and 12 or fewer in the other three games. MSU's primary ballhandler, Keith Appling, is averaging just 2.2 per contest, posting a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Searching For A Rotation
Michigan State has used four different starting lineups through the season's first 10 games, as the Spartans work with different combinations. Nine players are averaging more than 12 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.
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 four games back, he's averaging 8.8 points, while shooting .563 (9-of-16) 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.
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 (10.4 ppg), third in rebounding (5.5 rpg), and second in minutes played (26.6 mpg), while ranking seventh in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.603)despite being just over nine 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 .627 field-goal percentage (32-of-51). Payne is averaging 8.1 points and a team-best 7.5 rebounds, ranking third in the Big Ten. The main thing limiting Payne's production is foul trouble, as he's played 20 minutes or more in just five games. In five games, Payne picked up two first-half fouls, limiting his playing time.
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick Nix ranks ninth 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 21 steals through the first 10 games of the season (2.1 spg), ranking fifth 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 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 (13.0 ppg), and fourth in minutes (24.6 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (2.8 apg), fourth in rebounds (4.1 rpg) and fifth in minutes (23.6 mpg).
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 131-9.6, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +3.5 points per game (13.1-9.6). The Spartans are averaging 12.0 offensive boards per game. MSU has 120 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 189 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .388.
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. 12)
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. 10), Minnesota (No. 13), and Michigan State (No. 19) are all ranked in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 (Dec. 10). 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.
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 420-171 (.711), 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 (.723), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Izzo (.711) 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.