Blog Entry

Experience Trumps Enthusiam for Michigan State

Posted on: March 27, 2010 12:05 am
Edited on: March 27, 2010 12:07 am


In the last two months, I was privileged enough to see both Northern Iowa and Michigan State play basketball on their home courts. The vibes were distinctively different during those games, and tonight the very reasons why those experiences differed were almost precisely the same reasons the outcome of tonight's game was what it was. 

In case you missed it, Tom Izzo's Spartans -- sans big gun Kalin Lucas -- ended the University of Northern Iowa's dream tonight by dealing them a 59-52 loss and sending the Panthers back to Cedar Falls. Michigan State simply proved too much for the small school to handle.

Visiting each team on its home turf painted the picture that would ultimately seal this game's fate. UNI's small arena was rabid with a community who believed in their Panthers, knowing with each shot that their boys were capable of making waves, and that the rest of the world would soon find discover that for themselves. It was raucous and loud, exploding with support and confidence that this was their year.

Michigan State's home base, while similarly loud, had a bit of a different vibe. If UNI's McLeod center was a cockfighting ring, the Breslin Center is almost a cathedral of college ball, presided over by the beloved Tom Izzo with die-hard fans surrounding the court like bodyguards over their beloved Spartans. Seeing the Izzone in action is the precise portrait of a storied program's devoted followers. Michigan State, that classic program, inspires and instills reverence in the college basketball fan. Here was a school -- and a coach -- expected to take a rightful place in each year's postseason dance.

Ultimately tonight, that Spartan experience would crush the joyous partycrashing enjoyed by Northern Iowa in a close-fought game that, until the last two minutes, could have gone either way. But the ace in the hole would trump the joker in the deck, with guard Durrell Summers punching out at 19 points, and Michigan State steps forward to face Tennessee Sunday at 4:30. 

There's no doubt that right now Tom Izzo is talking to the press and saying wonderful things about the Northern Iowa Panthers -- not only because it's true that their run was amazing, but because that's what great, classic coaches do. Both of these teams deserved to be in this game tonight, for both very different reasons and very similar reasons, but both can't progress. That's not how this works, and the world says goodbye to the Panthers. But don't think they won't show up in "One Shining Moment." And just try not to get all tingly when they do.

Since: Mar 29, 2009
Posted on: March 28, 2010 8:45 am

Experience Trumps Enthusiam for Michigan State

Izzo is in the top five of active coaches. He's one championship away from being named among the greats. What he's done with this program is to keep  Michigan State University in the championship conversation year after year. Michigan State Basketball is in a word- consistent.
Consistent wins have brought consistently good talent from all over the country: Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, etc...
This year's run showcases Izzo's brilliance because MSU's best player is on the sidelines, yet they continue to win. Tennessee will be a tough opponent, but anyone who counts out the Spartans because of injuries, offensive stagnation, or low post size has forgotten that they have one very important compenent that has been present at each of their five previous elite eight games in the last dozen years: IZZO!

Since: Aug 2, 2006
Posted on: March 28, 2010 4:31 am
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Since: Mar 27, 2010
Posted on: March 27, 2010 3:00 pm

Experience Trumps Enthusiam for Michigan State

Great article C.M.,
I've had the pleasure of sitting next to the Izzone 3 times this year and all I can compare it to is the first time
I walked into a full blown Gospel performance in a tent in New Orleans..I started swaying and at times I
swore I was floating 6" off the ground surrounded by satin robes. Cathedral like ..Indeed!!! Coach Izzo has earned
the respect of everybody with whom he comes into contact. For all the team went thru this season they rallied around Kalin Lucas and COACH. 5 teams from the Big Ten to start, one left...These guys have heart. You're appreciated for recognizing it..Thanx from all of us.

Since: Dec 1, 2007
Posted on: March 27, 2010 10:11 am

Experience Trumps Enthusiam for Michigan State

Great article.  Anyone close to Tom Izzo knows that he is the king of class.  He does so much for the players on his team, Michigan State University, the Lansing area, and the state of Michigan.  We need more coaches in college basketball with the humility and resposect of our beloved Izzo.

That being said, hats off to our boys for fighting and pulling out another tough basketball game last night.  The Spartans are looking a bit like their mascot.  Battered, bloody, and bruised but not beaten.  They are taking their stand and hopefully Sparta can be victorious to the end.

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