Thursday, March 29, 2012

Video: Torey Krug talks about his head being shaved for Boston Bruins

A few days after being signed by the Boston Bruins, former MSU defenseman Torey Krug participated in the team's "Cuts for a Cause," where players shaved their heads. The event raised more than $58,000 for the Boston Bruins Foundation and Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.

Krug had long, flowing locks for a few years at MSU, but those finally came to an end. Here is a video of Krug talking about the haircut with CBS-Boston. MSU hockey coach Tom Anastos was  in Boston for the game last night. Krug participated in warm-ups for the first time, but was a healthy scratch.

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/29

There is no date for this photo, although it appears this is the baseball team from sometime between 1900-09. 

The description of the photo is quite interesting: "While at M.A.C. (Forest H. Akers) was a star pitcher for the baseball team. In 1908 he was expelled from M.A.C. for, as Akers put it, 'raising too much hell.' His expulsion, in part, stemmed from a 1907 incident. During a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt, a powder keg exploded, shattering the windows in nearby dormitories and the college’s greenhouses. Akers was accused of spearheading this prank, a charge he adamantly denied."

Akers later became a big business success and an MSU trustee and donated a lot of money to the school. Akers Hall and the golf courses are named after him. I believe Akers is the middle player in the back row. This older picture of Akers looks similar.

via MSU Archives

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Travis Walton replaces Alan Anderson on D-League roster

Former Spartan Alan Anderson signed a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors on Monday, so the Canton Charge filled the open roster spot with another former Spartan: Travis Walton.

A Lima, Ohio native, Walton has spent the last two seasons playing in Germany and Switzerland. Walton was a three-year captain at MSU from 2005-09 and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. After spending some time in Europe, Walton was back at MSU the following season as a student assistant coach as MSU made its second straight Final Four. He then went back to Europe to continue playing. The Charge's next game is Thursday night.

The 29-year-old Anderson was averaging 21.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in eight games with the Charge before being signed Monday. Anderson was actually watching film with the Charge early Monday and was dressed for the Raptors later that night. He hit two free throws, grabbed a rebound and had an assist in eight minutes in Toronto's loss. He played 13 minutes in Wednesday's win, scoring seven points with one rebound and one assist.

Anderson played at MSU from 2001-05 and has been playing all over the world since. He said he was in China last season.

Here is a video of Anderson talking with Toronto media about the experience.

Forty-nine Spartans named Academic All-Big Ten

The Big Ten announced its Academic All-Conference selections from winter sports on Wednesday, and 49 Spartans were honored. 

According to the Big Ten: "To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher."

Here are the total number of honorees per school. The numbers are wide-ranging because not every school sponsors every sport

Illinois: 47
Indiana: 52
Iowa: 63
Michigan: 60
MSU: 49
Minnesota: 67
Nebraska: 48
Northwestern: 44
Ohio State: 59
Penn State: 63
Purdue: 51
Wisconsin: 20

The MSU honorees are:

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/28

"Crowd greeting Governor Ferris who attended the U. of M. VS M.A.C. foot-ball game." and "Gov. Ferris at U. of M. game with M.A.C. State won 12-7," "Oct 20 - 1913."

via MSU Archives

Thoughts on the opening of MSU spring football

Doesn't it feel like we just saw LSU get demolished by Alabama in New Orleans?

The surprisingly successful and exciting MSU basketball season resulted in the last three months going by in the blink of an eye. Now, football back. MSU's first of 15 spring practices took place Tuesday. Spring culminates with the intrasquad scrimmage at 1 p.m. on April 28. The game will be televised live on Big Ten Network, a result of sustained program success. MSU looks to build on back-to-back 11-win seasons, but has some major holes to fill before the season kicks off next fall. That starts with spring practice.

"We want to try to get 3 percent better every practice," Mark Dantonio said at his press conference on Tuesday (full transcript here). "That's something my head coach, my position coach really talked about in spring practice going way back in the 1970s. I think I still try to hold that to be true. So you're going to remain 97 percent of what you do will remain the same. If you can just change that 3 percent every day, you're going to become a more effective football player in the end. So that's what we're trying to do.

"Develop new concepts, new ideas, new position changes and experiment with those different things. We also need to stay healthy, but guard against complacency, I would say. Regardless of where you're at, if you're the head coach here, position coach, position player, you need to look forward to the next thing and really guard in terms of being complacent in everything that we do."

Considering not much has happened on the field yet, the biggest stories are on the depth chart. Bennie Fowler, Chris Norman, Lawrence Thomas and Paul Lang are notable players who will miss part or all of spring due to injuries, but let's take a look at who will be practicing.

Group led by Magic Johnson reaches agreement to buy Dodgers

Former MSU basketball player Magic Johnson is set to become the third Spartan to actively own a professional sports team

A group led by Johnson has reached an agreement to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion. Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Tom Gores (Detroit Pistons) are other MSU alumni who currently own pro sports teams. Drayton McLane, who got his MBA from MSU, had owned the Houston Astros since 1993 before selling them in November.

"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles," Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson grew up in Lansing and played basketball at MSU for two seasons, winning the school's first national championship in 1979. Johnson was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent his entire career.

Since his retirement from professional basketball in the early 1990s, Johnson has been an active businessman and owned a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers for 16 years before selling it in 2010. Johnson's group will buy the Dodgers from McCourt, who bought the team in 2004 for $430 million. Another MSU alumnus, Eli Broad, almost bought the Dodgers in 2004 and had been talked about as a possible owner this time around.

Magic Johnson on WhoSay

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Video: Gholston talks with BTN

Defensive end William Gholston talks with Big Ten Network's Howard Griffith. Topics include weight-lifting, life lessons from Ken Mannie, last season's suspension, acting class and super powers.

Video: Torey Krug talks with Boston media

Two days after forgoing his senior season, former Spartan defensemen Torey Krug has started practicing with the Boston Bruins. Coming into a NHL locker room with the playoffs on the horizon can be intimidating, but Krug is getting his shot to impress the coaches. He spoke with Boston media after a practice.

From the Bruins' website:

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/27

"Postcard of the class rivalry poster between the (freshmen) and sophomores in 1909. Text on front: '1913 Bids Defiance! We the remarkable and noble class M.A.C. 1913 do hereby defy the cowardly rough-necks composing the class of 1912 and give warning that unless these same slimy, sloppy, sophs show up at the class rush Saturday, they will be forever disgraced and if they do show up, they will be wiped from the face of the earth. 

'Cowardly, simpering yellow-dogs, you have: 1st. Made our brother classmates straddle unoffending bovines. 2nd. You have compelled us to devour Tar Soap and Bull Durham. 3rd. You have deprived us of the use of the M.U.R. and Bijou Theater. 4th. You have tried to run opposition to our college barbers. So now you yellow curs be prepared for your judgment, as you are a stain on the fair name of our college and you'll get yours, the blood will flow like water Saturday Oct. 2, 1909. On the Football Field. We hereby pledge ourselves to exterminate the insignificant pups of Sophomores. Signed. M.A.C. 1913.'

via MSU Archives

Monday, March 26, 2012

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/26

"Drawing of a football player, with the head of an actual player. Written on a sign next to him is 'Michigan's Goal,' and at the bottom "We're Going To Do It Again." The artist's initials are E.M.H. The date on the back is 1914."

MAC won its first football game against Michigan in 1913, so it would appear this postcard is about winning the 1914 game. U-M won the game 3-0.

via MSU Archives

Thoughts on MSU basketball's 2011-12 season and looking ahead

It started with President Obama on the sideline and ended with Muhammed Ali watching from the stands.

In between, the MSU men's basketball team turned in one of the most improbable seasons in a long time. It ended with a thud, but it was full of surprises and memories.

We tend to look at any MSU season that didn't finish in the Final Four and consider it a failure (That's what Drew Sharp did before later changing his column). Sure, when a No. 1 seed doesn't reach the Final Four, it should be labeled a disappointment. But this was an MSU team that overachieved all season, and when Branden Dawson went down, the margin for error was extremely thin. It got them against Louisville.

But who saw it getting that far? Two championships and a Sweet 16, not bad for a team that began the season unranked.

It actually started in the offseason. Garrick Sherman transferred shortly after the 2010-11 season ended, joining Korie Lucious, who had been kicked off earlier that year. Then Delvon Roe announced his retirement in the summer. The Spartans were going to be shorthanded. Freshmen were going to be relied upon. The goal wasn't a Final Four. It wasn't even a Big Ten championship. It was play as well as you can and get better as the season goes on. No one knew what to expect.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Torey Krug forgoes senior season, signs with Boston Bruins

In an unsurprising move, MSU hockey defenseman and captain Torey Krug announced Sunday he will skip his senior season after signing with the NHL's Boston Bruins.

The signing was first reported by the New England Hockey Journal.

"This obviously came quickly after our season ended, but it was a really difficult decision to make," Krug said in a release. "I love everything about Michigan State, my teammates, and our hockey program, and it was an outstanding place for me to grow and develop both as a hockey player and a person. It is very hard for me to leave, but I am incredibly thankful for the support shown to me by Coach Anastos as I went through this process. 

"I'm very proud to have worn a Michigan State jersey and serve as a captain. It's bittersweet, because we have worked hard to get MSU hockey back where we want it to be, challenging for conference and national championships."

As a junior this season, Krug finished with 12 goals and 22 assists and split the CCHA scoring title. He was later named CCHA Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. He also has been named the top offensive defenseman in the league the last two seasons. 

"I couldn't be happier for Torey. He's had an incredible season, an outstanding career at Michigan State and is ready to take the next step in his hockey career," head coach Tom Anastos said in the release. "While I know that we will certainly miss his talent and leadership next season, he will be back to complete his degree, and has left a lasting impression on his teammates that will most certainly continue to have a long term impact on our program."

Given the success Krug has had in recent seasons, it was not surprising an NHL team finally came calling. Anastos said about half of the NHL teams expressed "serious interest" in Krug. The defenseman's size has always been an issue with scouts, but his success on the ice made it impossible for teams to ignore him. It also made sense for Krug to leave whenever he could, because his stock couldn't get much higher as a prospect. 

Krug is the eighth player to leave MSU early for the pros since the end of the 2008 season, joining Derek Grant, Corey Tropp, Andrew Rowe, Jeff Petry, Justin Abdelkader, Mike Ratchuk and Tim Kennedy. A major reason Rick Comley's tenure at MSU ended with so many losses was because top players were leaving school early much more frequently than in the past. Krug said he will immediately get a chance to practice with the Bruins, instead of going directly to a minor league affiliate. 

With Krug's departure, MSU loses four defensemen from its regular lineup this season. Those spots will be filled by incoming recruits, current players and two transfers. I detailed this in an earlier post.

"There are so many people to thank," Krug said in the release. "To all of my teammates, our coaches and staff, the athletic department, and the university, thank you for making my three years as a part of this program such a special time in my life. I will always be a proud Spartan, and will do my best to represent Michigan State University in a way that you will all be proud."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cornell band plays MSU fight song against Michigan

The MSU hockey team had already been eliminated earlier in the day, but the MSU fight song was still proudly being played in one hockey rink — one where MSU wasn't even playing.

Late in regulation with their team leading Michigan 2-1, the Cornell pep band played the MSU fight song, bringing in a new level of how to troll an opponent. This had to be planned. The band would have had to bring sheet music for the MSU fight song or something, because I assume it's not part of their normal playlist. (Update: This appears to be something Cornell has done before, playing an opponent's rival's fight song).

If you look at Shawn Hunwick's face in this video, I wonder if he recognized the tune. U-M actually tied the game up a few minutes after the song was played, but Cornell won in overtime.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Icers fall to Union in NCAA Tournament, but future is bright

(Box score here, radio highlights/photos here)

One year ago to the day, Tom Anastos was introduced as Michigan State's sixth head hockey coach in the program's 70-year history.

It was an unprecedented move. The conference commissioner taking what looked like a lesser role as a head coach. Some thought it was Anastos abandoning the sinking CCHA ship with an eye for an executive role with the Big Ten and its new hockey conference. I didn't believe that, but I didn't know what to think.

One year later, MSU made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years, and although it ended in a 3-1 loss to No. 1 seed Union, the program clearly is back on the road to where it belongs, and the future is bright.

Random MSU Photo of the Day 3/23

Keith Appling looks to the floor as reporters surround him after Thursday night's Sweet 16 loss to Louisville.

Photo here

Thoughts on MSU's 57-44 loss to Louisville, Draymond Green's career

(Box score here)

Kalin Lucas' eyes were starting to water.

The guard's career had just ended after he committed a traveling violation at the end of MSU's first game of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It was MSU's worst season in more than a decade and the Spartans were bounced in the round of 64 because he had a terrible night. From the playing at the highest level, to coming back from a ruptured Achilles, Lucas had been through a lot. But his brilliant career had ended in a wreck.

The first question in the postgame press conference was asked to Lucas, and he couldn't hold the tears back any longer. He put his head down, so no one could see him. Tom Izzo was tearing up as well. After a few seconds of silence and sniffles, Draymond Green spoke up. 

"I know it had to be rough for him. I mean, I'm just going to answer from my perspective. I feel like he had a great career, and he hasn't had many games where he just couldn't get anything to fall. You know, they did a great job defensively on him. They pretty much keyed on him the whole entire defense, and he did a great job of still getting everybody else involved. He still had five assists and he did some great things for us and got me some open shots. It hurts me. You know, I'm a big fan of my guys reaching milestones, and the loss hurts me, but I think I'm kind of hurting because he came up four points short of 2,000. And for everything he did for this program, you know, I get to come back for another year so I can be sad about the loss later. I think I'm hurting more about him not getting them four points."

When reporters ran out of questions, Green let everyone know how Lucas had told him to keep his head up during his freshman year and helped Green throughout his career.

It was never about him. Over four years, Green always stuck up for his teammates, kept them involved. It was his emphasis on keeping this year's team together that helped them overachieve to heights no one expected. While Green's career also ended in a heartbreaking way, it still wasn't about him. He was the last MSU player to leave the court, congratulating all the Louisville players and high-fiving kids on the way out.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Louisville Slugfest - Previewing the Sweet 16 matchup

As someone with Italian heritage, I've always enjoyed listening to Tom Izzo or Rick Pitino talk. So often, they sound so much like my grandfather, especially the way Izzo uses his hands.

Leading up to the Elite Eight game between MSU and Louisville in 2009, I vividly remember Dick Vitale referring to the coaches as "paisanos." Even though that's not an actual word (it's slang), it got the point across that both coaches were Italian. I am surprised that I haven't heard Vitale use it this time around.

These are two of the best coaches in college basketball history, but someone's streak is going to come to an end tonight (7:47 p.m., TBS). Izzo is 5-0 against the Big East in the NCAA Tournament, while Pitino is 9-0 all-time in the Sweet 16.

( highlights)

Just like the Saint Louis game, this is going to be a low-scoring game, but for different reasons.

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/22

Tom Izzo looks to the crowd as MSU celebrates its 64-52 victory over Louisville in the 2009 Elite Eight.

Photo here

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/21

Freshman guard Korie Lucious reacts as three Louisville defenders surround him during the Elite Eight game in 2009.

Photo here

The Trey Zeigler dilemma

If you haven't heard yet, Central Michigan guard Trey Zeigler has decided to transfer since his father was fired as head coach a week ago.

The Recruit Scoop tweeted that Zeigler is down to Duke, MSU, UCLA and Detroit as his options. Zeigler tweeted he is visiting Duke this weekend. He averaged 15.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists as a sophomore this past season for CMU, which finished the season 11-21 overall. Zeigler chose to play for his father at CMU over MSU, Michigan, Duke and UCLA, among others, out of high school.

Zeigler would have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules, but would have two years of eligibility left. Should MSU be interested?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

MSU, Oregon to play football series in 2014-15

The Register-Guard (Ore.) first reported that MSU and Oregon are getting a jump-start on the Pac-12/Big Ten football series that will begin later this decade by holding a home-and-home football series in 2014 and 2015.

MSU athletics director Mark Hollis confirmed the series with a tweet, saying it would replace the previously-scheduled series with West Virginia due to the Mountaineers' transition to the Big 12. A release from MSU says WVU opted out of the contract to create more flexibility in its scheduling.

The teams will play in Eugene, Ore. in 2014 and in East Lansing in 2015.

"We look forward to adding Oregon to our future football schedule,” Hollis said in statement. “The series provides MSU alums on the West Coast with an opportunity to see the Spartans compete against one of the nation’s outstanding football programs. The relationship between the Big Ten and Pac-12 is built on common values and the Rose Bowl. We also look forward to bringing the Ducks back to Spartan Stadium, as we continue to compete for championships and national exposure.”

Green named NABC First Team All-American

Another All-America team, another honor for Draymond Green, this time from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Green is joined by Ohio State's Jared Sullinger as Big Ten players on the first team. Here are the three NABC teams.

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/20

Detroit Pershing's Derrick Nix accepts the 2009 Michigan Mr. Basketball award. Nix became the first Michigan Mr. Basketball to attend MSU since Drew Neitzel in 2004.

Photo here

MSU has Big Ten's 4th-most profitable athletic department

Yesterday, The Business of College Sports revealed revenue and expense data from Big Ten athletic departments for the 2010-11 season.

MSU came in as the fourth-most profitable department in the conference. From the story, "The data was obtained from the Department of Education and is from 2010-11.  While the data from the Department of Education is not perfect, it is the only data publicly available for both public and private institutions."

Here are the profit numbers. You can check the expense and revenue numbers in the link above. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

MSU commit Matt Costello named Mr. Basketball

For the fourth straight year, an MSU basketball commit has been named Michigan's Mr. Basketball.

Bay City Western's Matt Costello is set to come to East Lansing next season, joining Derrick Nix and Keith Appling as Michigan Mr. Basketball winners on the Spartans' roster. Dwaun Anderson was committed to MSU at the time he won the award last season, but the passing of his mother led to him choosing not to enroll at MSU. He later enrolled at Wagner.

In Costello, MSU has a big man who can rebound and hit the outside shot. He averaged 25.1 points, 17.8 rebounds, four blocks and four assists per game this season. He also reportedly had a bit of a mean streak and can mix it up on the glass. His versatility is in the mold of Draymond Green or Alex Gauna, and Costello could take Green's spot in the starting lineup next season, although he needs to get a little stronger. He is ranked the No. 82 player in the country, according to Rivals.

Costello would be be the 12th MSU player to have won the award since it began in 1981, not including Anderson. The others are: Sam Vincent (1981), Matt Steigenga (1988), Anthony Miller (1990), Jon Garavaglia (1993), Jason Richardson (1999), Marcus Taylor (2000), Kelvin Torbert (2001), Paul Davis, (2002), Drew Neitzel (2004), Nix (2009) and Appling (2010)

Lansing Sexton's Denzel Valentine, another MSU commit, finished second for the Mr. Basketball award.

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/19

Tom Izzo and Korie Lucious embrace after Lucious' buzzer-beating three-pointer moved MSU into the Sweet 16 — MSU's most-recent Sweet 16 appearance before this season.

Photo here

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thoughts on MSU's 65-61 win over Saint Louis

(Box score here)

"Draymond Green does everything, including wiping the floor!"

While that anecdote was great for national writers, the real story Sunday was Keith Appling's 19 points, leading MSU to a 65-61 win over Saint Louis in the third round, advancing the Spartans to the Sweet 16. (Yes, I realize I did that exact same thing with the anecdote, but it was, you know, sarcastic).

You knew Rick Majerus would have his team ready for MSU, and the Billikens had a great gameplan. It's good to see Majerus back in the NCAA Tournament, he's one of the game's most underrated coaches. But as the coach of a mid-major team, he didn't have to talent to play MSU straight-up, he had to have a plan. The plan was to force Appling to take open jumpers. Make the struggling shooter beat you. And that's exactly what he did, shooting 7-for-14 from the field.

With the win, MSU advances to the Sweet 16 in Phoenix, where they will face No. 4 seed Louisville. It will be MSU's fourth appearance in the Sweet 16 in the last five years, and 10th in 15 years under Tom Izzo.

( highlights)

Given the quality coaching and defenses on these teams, it was going to be a low-scoring game. Saint Louis players said they wanted to muck it up, and they did just that, grabbing and playing as physical as possible while forcing the refs to make (or not make) difficult calls. The Billikens didn't score a field goal until almost seven minutes into the game, but they forced MSU into some difficult shots and turnovers. The Spartans started to hit some shots, but that was only when they wouldn't turn it over.

MSU hockey earns first NCAA Tournament berth since 2008

(Bracket here, ticket information here)

It came right down to the wire and was the difference by a couple thousandths of a decimal, but the MSU hockey team earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the program's first appearance since 2008.

The Spartans will take on No. 1 seed Union, which is the No. 3 overall seed, in the East Region in Bridgeport, Conn. The game will take place Friday at 3 p.m. MSU is the No. 14 overall seed, although the Spartans were actually the last at-large team. (Cornell moved down to No. 15 because Michigan is No. 2 overall).

After Union's and Air Force's wins last night, MSU finished tied with Northern Michigan for 15th in the Pairwise rankings. But MSU was ahead of NMU by .0047 in the RPI, which put MSU ahead by .0121 in the Pairwise. MSU will keep playing, while NMU's season is done. You really can't get much closer than that.

As close as it was, you can officially say the first season of the Tom Anastos era was a major success. Under Rick Comley, MSU won the national championship in 2007 and reached the regional final in 2008, but the program quickly fell into irrelevance with second-to-last place finishes in the CCHA in 2009 and 2011. Anastos inherited a team with more seniors than any MSU team in decades, but the job he did to get MSU back into the tournament really was incredible. It is MSU's 27th tournament appearance, which is fourth-most all-time.

The crowds at Munn Ice Arena are getting better, too. One of the most prolific programs in college hockey is back on the upswing. (Honestly, this is quite comparable to what Brady Hoke did with Michigan football).

That senior class was in danger of becoming the program's first since 1981 to never reach an NCAA Tournament (Ron Mason's second season and MSU's last in the WCHA), but they got the job done.

I wrote when Anastos was hired that no one could predict how he would be as a head coach. A conference commissioner moving into a head-coaching role was such an incredibly rare thing. But Mark Hollis once again has struck gold with a coaching hire, and MSU hockey is back where it belongs.

Meet me in St. Louis (or Columbus, whatever)

Well, this isn't what we were expecting.

When the brackets were released a week ago, MSU's third-round matchup with Memphis was seen as a real upset possibility. Many national analysts picked the Tigers to reach the Sweet 16. But something happened: Memphis didn't win its first game.

Nope. Rick Majerus, as he often does, devised a great coaching plan and had Saint Louis ready to play. They trailed for much of the game, but went on a 14-5 run midway through the second half and would not trail the rest of the way in a 61-54 victory. Now Saint Louis will look to advance to its first Sweet 16 with a win Sunday (2:45 p.m., CBS).

( highlights)

Instead of the high-flying, athletic Memphis team that likes to run, Saint Louis is more like a slow Big Ten team, playing with an adjusted tempo of 62.8. Think Wisconsin. As was mentioned in the LIU-Brooklyn preview, the Spartans' ability to change the pace has always been a staple of Tom Izzo's MSU teams. The Spartans can run, and they can slow it down. Against LIU, MSU did a bit of both, but dominated the smaller LIU team with 62 points in the paint.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thoughts on MSU's 89-67 win over Long Island-Brooklyn

(Box score here)

No upset here.

On a day when two No. 15 seeds and a No. 13 seed won, No. 1 seed MSU made sure it didn't make any history, cruising to an 89-67 win over No. 16 seed Long Island-Brooklyn in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Draymond Green (24 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) turned in the third triple-double of his career and his second straight in the NCAA Tournament. MSU advances to the third round, where the Spartans will face Saint Louis, the No. 9 seed that defeated Memphis earlier Friday night.

( highlights)

Early on, the Spartans got whatever they wanted on offense, but had some trouble on defense. MSU led by 10 late in the first half, but LIU closed the half on a 5-0 run to cut it to a five-point deficit at the break. LIU star forward Julian Boyd had only played nine minutes in the first while dealing with foul trouble, so the Blackbirds appeared to be in a good position. MSU had shot 52.8 percent in the first half, but LIU was right there at 50 percent, inclusing 5-for-8 from three-point range.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/16

Travis Walton dives for a loose ball in the 2009 NCAA Tournament first-round matchup with Robert Morris. MSU won the game 77-62.

Photo here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Krug named CCHA Player of the Year

MSU junior defenseman Torey Krug tied for the league lead in points and was named CCHA Player of the Year tonight, per MSU Hockey's Twitter account.

Krug is the seventh Spartan to win the award and just the fourth defenseman in CCHA history. Krug also was named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.

Next up for MSU is waiting for the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans are right on the bubble and need the favorites to win their conference tournament to help MSU's Pairwise ranking.

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/15

From the 2010 NCAA Tournament first round, Chris Allen is tended to by trainers after injuring his ankle against New Mexico State.

Photo here

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Bracket

(Click to enlarge)
Most of your bracket deadlines have probably already passed, and you probably don't want my advice anyway, but here's a look at my bracket. There's no exact science to picking a bracket, but I've got a feeling that there is a clear-enough separation of tiers that the old lady in your office probably won't win the pool this year.

I've gone with the bold choice of three No. 1s and one No. 2 in my Final Four: Kentucky, MSU, North Carolina and Ohio State. If you care, Justin Verlander has MSU winning it all and Michigan getting upset by Ohio in his bracket.

With that, here's a brief breakdown of my picks each region.

Brooklyn has good pizza, but what about hoops? — Previewing MSU's 'second round' matchup

It was Yoda who said that fear leads to the dark side, via the transitive property.

Despite no No. 16 seed ever having won an NCAA Tournament game, there is no fear in Long Island-Brooklyn.

In typical New York fashion, the Blackbirds have ton of confidence. LIU won the Northeast Conference Tournament for the second straight season and has won 20 of its last 22 games. A year ago, the No. 15 seed Blackbirds were within 10 points of North Carolina midway through the second half in Charlotte. But for as well as LIU can score, they give up a ton of points. The Tar Heels won the game 102-87.

The Blackbirds said they were surprised they were given a No. 16 seed this season. As for MSU, senior guard Michael Culpo told the New York Post, "Michigan State, I feel, is one of the weaker 1s, if that’s even possible, but I think it’ll be a game.” Culpo also has let people know that he has packed for the entire weekend.

I don't think this the same case as New Mexico State in 2010, when players said they didn't know who Kalin Lucas was. I don't think LIU is playing the disrespect card toward MSU, I think it's more demanding their own respect.

Still, the Blackbirds have done what they can to make sure the Spartans don't overlook them.

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/14

1998 - Mateen Cleaves and Andre Hutson embrace after MSU defeated Princeton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by a 63-56 score.

Photo here

Travis Trice part of 'Coolest name' ESPN bracket has a "Coolest name in NCAA Tourney" bracket, and a Spartan has made the field.

Freshman guard Travis Trice is the No. 13 seed in the Dallas Comegys Region and is going up against No. 4 seed and Creighton freshman forward Mogboluwaga Oginni.

The No. 1 seed in the region is Syracuse center Fab Melo, who is ineligible for the actual NCAA Tournament.

You can vote in the bracket here.

Obama takes MSU to Elite Eight

He has an MSU basketball jersey, and he saw the Spartans play live this season, but President Obama doesn't have the Spartans reaching New Orleans for the Final Four in his NCAA Tournament bracket, instead falling to Missouri in the Elite Eight.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama visited MSU and was given an MSU basketball jersey. The President was on the floor for the Carrier Classic at the beginning of this season, where MSU fell to UNC, whom Obama has winning the national championship.

"Izzo is terrific, but the perimeter play of Missouri right now is outstanding," Obama told ESPN's Andy Katz.

Poor, @JSWarno

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tom Izzo does soap


Run, run, as fast as you can — Previewing the West Region

(Printable bracket here)

While I was driving home from Indianapolis, I caught a national radio interview with Long Island-Brooklyn head coach Jim Ferry.

At the end of the interview, the radio host told Ferry he was excited to watch the contrast of styles between LIU-Brooklyn, which likes to run and create a lot of possessions, and MSU, which likes to slow it down and "just dump it in to Draymond Green." Again, that was according to the radio host.

Ferry must have agreed, because he told the New York Post: "Everything (MSU does) is about toughness and strength, and they try to bang you inside and beat you on the glass. We’re going to have to get the game going up and down the court, which they don’t really do.”

I'm just going to call it The Wisconsin Effect or something. Playing in a conference with teams that like to slow it down and, you know, emphasize defense gives a lot of people nationally the perception that Big Ten teams don't like to run, including MSU.

As often is the case, MSU led the Big Ten in fast-break points this season, and playing against teams that like to run will help MSU's chances. Six of the top 12 teams in possessions per game play in the West Region, and seven teams in the region led their conference in transition points. The Spartans are going to run and, while they're missing some guys that would excel in it, they've got a team that enjoys doing it, led by Keith Appling, who is better on the break than in the halfcourt offense.

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/13

An artist's rendering of the "mens intramural sports building," now known as IM West. There is no date with this rendering. I can't find when IM West opened.

Monday, March 12, 2012

MSU football recognized for promoting scholar-athlete excellence

Release from the National Football Foundation:

DALLAS, March 12, 2012 – As part of  the National Football Foundation Faculty Salutes Initiative, sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, the NFF today presented Michigan State Faculty Athletics Representative Michael Kasavana with a plaque and the school with a $5,000 check. Michigan State and Kasavana were recognized for their efforts in fostering excellence among the student-athletes as exemplified by 2011 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Kirk Cousins.

“Michael Kasvana has been a critical liaison between academics and athletics at Michigan State,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “We are proud to join with Fidelity Investments in highlighting his role in ensuring that the student-athletes at Michigan State have an educational experience that prepares them for success long after their playing days in East Lansing.”

Actual thoughts on MSU's 68-64 win over Ohio State

(Box score here)

OK, I cheated you out of my thoughts on the game yesterday. From all the hoopla following the game, to the NCAA seeding, to actually working to driving home to Michigan in the middle of the night, I didn't really have a chance to reflect on the Big Ten Tournament championship.

Here is my game recap and here is my story on MSU earning its first No. 1 seed since 2001 for The Oakland Press.

So back to Sunday, what a game that was.

Draymond Green named USBWA All-American

Here is the release:

ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – Ten standout players representing seven conferences have been selected to the 2011-12 U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-America Team. The first team consists of five forwards, as the USBWA selects the nation's top five players regardless of position. Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger, last season's winner of the Wayman Tisdale Award as the National Freshman of the Year, is the lone repeat selection.

Sullinger, who averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, is joined by freshman phenom Anthony Davis of Kentucky, was has led the Wildcats to the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament with 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game. Michigan State senior Draymond Green (16.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg) sparked the Spartans to the Big Ten tournament title and a No. 1 seed, while Creighton's sharp-shooting sophomore Doug McDermott (23.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 61.0 field goal percentage, 49.5 3-point field goal percentage) and Kansas' junior upstart Thomas Robinson(17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg) have also earned first-team honors.

Random MSU Photo of the Day: 3/12

The 1903 MAC basketball team. The back of the photo reads: "Champion Basket Ball Team, Winter of 1903." Per the MSU media guide, the 1903 team went 6-0. MAC was a part of the MIAA in that time.

via MSU Archives

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thoughts on MSU's Big Ten Tournament championship

So MSU will be a No. 1 seed in the West region. The Spartans just heard the news.

What a championship game. That was a title fight. This will be updated later on. I've got lots of good video for you.

(UPDATE: Game recap here, story about MSU's No. 1 seed here)

(UPDATE: Postgame videos):

Previewing Ohio State in the Big Ten championship

INDIANAPOLIS — We were in this position eight days ago.

MSU vs. Ohio State for the Big Ten championship (preview story here). On March 4, MSU jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first half, but the Buckeyes hung around, chipped at the lead, eventually got even and William Buford hit the winning jumper with one second left, stunning the Breslin Center fans and players.

The game changed when Branden Dawson tore his ACL midway through the first half. At that point Buford had scored just four points, all on free throws. He scored 21 points the rest of the way.

And that will be the biggest key in this game. Who can stop William Buford? I'd expect Austin Thornton to start out on him, but Brandan Kearney might see some time on him too. On the other side of that matchup, MSU will need Thornton and Brandon Wood to hit shots, like they've done in the first two games here. Buford also has been known to shut himself down, but he's been on a tear recently.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stories and videos from MSU's win over Wisconsin.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here is my game story from Saturday's MSU game, here is my story from the Michigan/Ohio State semifinal and here is my preview story for the championship.

Thoughts on MSU's 65-52 win over Wisconsin

INDIANAPOLIS — So after Tom Izzo proclaimed following the Ohio State loss that MSU would head to Indianapolis looking to win its championship back, the Spartans are one win away from doing just that.

After a slow start, the Spartans blitzed the Badgers with a 37-7 run en route to a 65-52 win in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. It will be MSU's first appearance in the championship since 2000, when the Spartans won the tournament for the second straight year. In the final, they'll face either Michigan or Ohio State — meaning they will face one of the other regular season conference co-champions. MSU and U-M have never met in the tournament.

Previewing Wisconsin in Big Ten semis

INDIANAPOLIS — Sooooooo.... Rob Wilson? Sure.

Averaging 3.1 points per game, Wilson went off for 30 on Friday, sending Indiana and much of its army of fans home earlier than anyone expected. So MSU and Wisconsin will meet for the third time this season (1:40 p.m., CBS). It's the first time ever that the top four seeds reached the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

For MSU, the Spartans had little trouble with Iowa in the quarterfinals, but the Badgers are a different team. They can rebound and play defense.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thoughts on MSU's 92-75 win over Iowa

INDIANAPOLIS — Dawson who?

Without the small forward who would create matchup problems, MSU rolled to a 92-75 win that only got that close late when MSU had pulled most of the starters. MSU had 10 offensive rebounds and a 36-24 total edge on the glass.

Here is my game story for The Oakland Press and here is a notebook on Travis Trice, Adreian Payne, Indiana natives and Izzo's rant on Bruce Weber.

Some quick thoughts:

Videos: Green, Nix talk Iowa win

Stories should be coming shortly.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Northwestern makes everyone sad, Purdue rolls along

(Bracket here)

It was a fitting way for Northwestern's dream to end: in heartbreaking fashion.

With its 75-68 overtime loss to Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern's hopes of its first NCAA Tournament berth are gone. JerShon Cobb had 24 points and John Shurna had 21 for the Wildcats, but Drew Crawford shot 2-for-11 and seventh-seeded Northwestern was pounded on the glass.

Tenth-seeded Minnesota had 13 offensive rebounds and a 41-24 total rebound edge — and that was without seven-foot center Ralph Sampson III). Gopher guard Andre Hollins scored a career-high 25 points, and three other Gophers scored in double-figures. Minnesota advances to play Michigan at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Northwestern lost six games against Big Ten opponents by two points or less or in overtime this season — another season that will come up short.

In the final Thursday game, sixth-seeded Purdue shot 56 percent en route to an easy 79-61 win over 11th-seeded Nebraska. Anthony Johnson led Purdue with 17 points off the bench. Five Boilermakers scored in double-figures. Purdue has now won six of its last eight games and scored at least 74 points in six of those games. The Boilermakers advance to play Ohio State around 9 p.m. on Friday night.

Indiana rolls past Penn State into quarterfinals

The last time Indiana won a Big Ten tournament game? 2006.

It has been a slow revival of Indiana hoops under Tom Crean, but the fifth-seeded Hoosiers took another step with a 75-58 win over 12th-seeded Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday.

Jordan Hulls led Indiana with 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including 4-for-6 from three-point range. Cody Zeller had 19 points, with most of those coming from the free-throw line, where he was 11-for-15. Zeller was one of three Hoosiers with 10 rebounds. Christian Watford shot just 2-for-11, but was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line and finished with 14 points. Tim Frazier led Penn State with 26 points (18 at halftime) and four assists, but he had four turnovers and shot 9-for-24 from three-point range

Verdell Jones went down late in the second half with what looked like a right knee injury. He did not return and a teary-eyed Crean told Big Ten Network after the game that it didn't look good for Jones.

Indiana advances to face fourth-seeded Wisconsin on Friday around 2:30 p.m.

Random MSU Photo of the Day

A few weeks ago, I started tweeting random MSU sports photos. Some were more than 100 years old, some more recent. Most of these pictures came from MSU's archival website. Well, I received permission to publish these photos on this blog.

So here is the Random MSU Photo of the Day for March 8: Thomas Kelly celebrating with the 1999 Big Ten tournament championship plaque.

Photo from
Now, I've been asked to group together all the past random photos, so here they are.

March 7: Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and A.J. Granger with 2000 Big Ten tournament trophy.
March 6: The 1960 Big Ten track championships at Ralph Young Field.
March 2: Draymond Green and Austin Thornton go after Gordon Hayward in the 2010 Final Four
March 1: Draymond Green flashes a smile with his braces.
Feb. 29: An MSU football game in the 1930s.
Feb. 28: Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser chill outside a dorm
Feb. 27: Fans carry Jumping Johnny Green on their shoulders in 1957, the year MSU won its first Big Ten championship.
Feb. 24: Ohio State AD Gene Smith presents MSU with the 2010 Midwest Regional trophy.
Feb. 23: Cows being judged inside Demonstration Hall in 1933.

I couldn't get all the way through my Twitter timeline, so here are the other pictures I remember posting:

The 1895 MAC varsity baseball team
Donkey basketball game from 1953
Women's field hockey game from 1922
Softball game from 1922
MSC hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings at Dem Hall in 1958
An old MSU basketball game at Jenison Fieldhouse (date unknown)
The 1914 MAC varsity basketball team

Iowa holds off Illinois, will face MSU next

Despite not making a field goal in the final 9:16, Iowa was able to survive a late rally by Illinois for a 64-61 win in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. The eighth-seeded Hawkeyes will face top-seeded MSU on Friday at noon.

Ninth-seeded Illinois entered Thursday having lost 11 of its last 13 games, but the Illini's only win since the beginning of February was against Iowa.

The first half was back-and-forth, with the teams within one or two baskets of each other the entire time. The Illini led 31-27 at halftime. A few minutes into the second half, Illinois extended its lead to 40-33 and looked like it was starting to pull away. But Iowa answered with a 22-8 run to take a 55-48 lead. The teams then traded buckets, and Iowa didn't score another field goal for the rest of the game.

The Hawkeyes went cold, but Illinois could only muster a few buckets. The Hawkeyes started missing some free throws, keeping the Illini around. Joseph Bertrand made a tough three-pointer with 20 seconds left to make it a one-point game. Matt Gatens made two free throws and Illinois' last shot was off. It may have been Bruce Weber's last game as Illinois coach.

Gatens scored 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Bryce Cartwright had seven assists to no turnovers running the point for the Hawkeyes.

So Iowa faces MSU on Friday at noon. These teams met once in the regular season, with the Spartans cruising to a 95-61 victory in East Lansing — one of MSU's most-lopsided wins in Big Ten history. The Spartans shot 61.7 percent, while Iowa shot 36.7 percent. MSU will be without Branden Dawson, who tore his ACL in the final regular season game, but Dawson wasn't a major part of the first win, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds in 21 minutes.

MSU might have some early struggles playing without Dawson, but I don't see enough scoring threats for Iowa to make this a tough one for the Spartans.

Prediction: MSU 75, Iowa 63

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Previewing the Big Ten tournament — Does MSU care?

(My preview originally appeared on Just Cover Blog

I am against the idea of conference tournaments. 

I think they devalue the role of the regular season, especially for mid-majors, where, in many cases, a team can win its regular season crown (by any margin), but has to win its conference tournament or else an NCAA tournament berth won't happen. For bigger conferences, the top teams have no incentive to play well, plus it always brings the chance of injury (Edit: I know it's about money, which is important for mid-major conferences).

That being said, I'm extremely excited for the Big Ten tournament to get underway on Thursday (bracket here). As a fan of basketball, and specifically Big Ten basketball, it's an incredibly fun event to attend. I recommend it for any Big Ten fan. (I'll be heading down Thursday night and covering MSU and Michigan for The Oakland Press)

This year, the conference was as good as ever. It was expected to be Ohio State head and shoulders above everyone else, but ended up with a three-way tie at the top with solid teams behind them. There really were four tiers of teams: The first being the three champions (Ohio State, Michigan State Michigan), the teams solidly in the tournament (Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue), the teams that are or were close to the bubble at one point (Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa) and the bottom-feeders (Nebraska, Penn State). But everyone was vulnerable. Penn State beat Purdue, Nebraska beat Indiana and Iowa beat Michigan and Indiana, to name a few upsets.

This has shaped up to be perhaps the best Big Ten tournament since it began in 1998. Ohio State has the most titles (4), including the last two. Interestingly, only three seeds have an all-time record above .500: 1, 2 and 6. The No. 6 seed is 25-12 all-time in this tournament and go through some picks.

Dawson undergoes successful surgery

Tom Izzo told reporters today that Branden Dawson underwent successful surgery on his torn left ACL on Tuesday night, confirming some players' tweets. 

Last night, Brandon Wood tweeted: "Lil bro @219MadeMe (Dawson) surgery went real well Everybody pray for him to come back stroger than before!"

This morning, Dawson tweeted: "Surgery went well. Thanks for all the support from family, friends, & my #SpartanNation family. My recovery is so far so good."

Because there wasn't much swelling on the knee, Dawson was able to get surgery sooner than many others. The LSJ reported that the ACL was completely torn, but there was no cartilage damage.

Check out my earlier post on what this injury means for Dawson and MSU.

Football women's clinic scheduled for April 14

From MSU:

EAST LANSING, Mich.  – Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and his wife Becky invite female fans, 18 and older, to attend the Spartan Football Women's Clinic, scheduled for Saturday, April 14 from 2-6 p.m. at the Duffy Daugherty Football Complex.

The program includes strategy sessions covering all three phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams), position drills and instruction as well as an equipment demonstration. The clinic will conclude with a panel discussion and Q&A session, featuring members of the football coaching staff and their wives, and hors d'oeuvres.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Some current and future basketball honors

One day after being named Big Ten Player of the Year, Draymond Green was named to the Sporting News All-American team.

Here is SN's Mike DeCourcy's reasoning for Green being on the team. Expect these All-American honors to keep coming in. The last Spartans to earn first-team All-American honors in some form were Jason Richardson and Charlie Bell in 2001. The last Spartans to make multiple All-American teams were Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson in 2000. Green has a good chance of making every All-American team, and would be the first Spartan since Shawn Respert in 1995 to earn that.

Green also is one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award.

Future Spartan Gary Harris was selected to play for the USA junior national select team. The group of 10 high school seniors will play a world select team on April 7 in Portland, Ore., for the Nike Hoop Summit. Harris is the first incoming Spartan to earn this honor since Zach Randolph and Marcus Taylor in 2000. Harris also will be in the McDonald's All-American game in March and and the Jordan Brand Classic in April.

Harris' half-court buzzer-beater from a few weeks ago is close to becoming a four-time Best-of-the-Best on Sportscenter's Top-10 plays.