Posted on: June 7, 2009 9:18 am

What's so special about The Brez?

What's so special about The Brez?

With 15,000 seats, it is by no means the largest basketball arena. Certainly the 53 game home winning streak (2000 to 2002) is impressive but it's not the longest in the NCAA. In the 20 seasons since it opened, the Jack Breslin Student Events Center has stood witness to a remarkable 4 undefeated-at-home seasons and a 267-38 (0.875) home-court record, one of the best in the country. 99 different opponents have come to play, but only 19 of them have ever won.

The Brez is home to Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans, a perennial basketball power. Yes, there are other great basketball teams. However, such notable teams as Louisville, Nebraska, Arkansas, UCLA, UCon, Florida, George Mason, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kansas St., Kentucky, UNC, UNLV, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Duke would rather submit to a colonoscopy than come to East Lansing, knowing it's a hostile environment, knowing just how difficult it is to escape with a win. 9 of 89 OOC opponents have ever won. Only 1 OOC team has ever won twice.

What's so special about The Brez?

Maybe it's championship magic. The NCAA Champion Spartans had a 28 game winning streak entering into the 2000-01 season. During the off season, Coach Izzo bought the championship floor from the RCA Dome in Indianapolis and installed it (Lupe did the design). The Spartans continued undefeated on that floor for nearly 2 more years (25 games) before falling by 1 in a thriller against Wisconsin. During that time, a myth that the Spartans were invincible at home took hold and grew. While that myth has since been debunked, the Spartans are 130-12 (3 OOC losses), including the current 39 game OOC winning streak, since the floor was installed. Duke was the last OOC opponent to win (12/3/03).

Maybe it's the Izzone ("Always Imitated. Never Duplicated."). With close to 4,000 members cheering the Spartans on, the Izzone creates a loud, exciting and intimidating atmosphere, and a considerable home-court advantage. The Spartans at home can always rely on their sixth man.

Of all the games played in The Brez, there will always be one in particular that stands out. Feb. 20th, 2007. The day No. 1 fell. The day that the Izzone proved their reputation was well-deserved. Wisconsin was a model of greatness, a school-record 30 wins, after over No. 2 Pitt and No. 5 Ohio State, until Feb. 20th, in the Brez. It was all the Izzone. The Izzone, even for them, was in rare form. The Brez rocked. It was deafening. It continues to echo even today.
Posted on: March 21, 2009 11:41 am
Edited on: March 21, 2009 11:44 am

March Mayhem Essay Contest Round 2

Member Mayhem Message Board (go vote)

"What player do you feel had the biggest impact on his team's run to get to the 2009 NCAA Tournament?" 

Evan Turner of the Ohio State Buckeyes and Kalin Lucas of the Michigan State Spartans were both candidates for Big Ten Player of the Year. Unfortunately, as these things go, only one could receive the honor, although both are quite deserving. It is a hard choice to choose between the two as both had extremely significant impacts on their respective team's performance. If one were to purely evaluate the two players on game statistics, Turner wins hands down. But there is more to winning basketball games than FG%, A/G, R/G, and the rest of the alphabet soup used by statisticians and fans. There is leadership. Who best led his team?

Both played tough games. Both led their teams. Both had moments of ecstasy and agony. Both kept their teams in games when the team went cold. Both led their teams to the "Big Dance." MSU beat OSU in the regular season. OSU beat MSU in the Big Ten Tournament, thus cementing a seed in the NCAA Tournament. I've seen them both play and I can not decide. I do tend to favor green and white over scarlet and gray.

As much as I like Lucas, this piece has to be about Turner. In the Big Ten Tournament, OSU took on MSU. The second half started with OSU up by 5, not a comfortable lead by any stretch. MSU started nibbling on the lead. Then Turner came alive. 18 points in 20 minutes plus assists, rebounds at both ends, steals, and blocked shots. He fired up his team and held off the Spartan rallies, and led his team to 12-point win. Would Ohio State have been in the tournament without that win? Probably, but not as a number 8 seed. Without Turner, OSU would not have danced at all.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 21, 2009 11:37 am
Edited on: March 21, 2009 11:44 am

March Mayhem Essay Contest Round 1 (bye)

Member Mayhem Message Board (go vote)

"What is your favorite moment in March Madness history, and why?"

The year is 2000. Michigan State is playing Florida for all the marbles. It is a hotly contested game and both teams are reaching deep to keep up their intensity. Then it happens. Mateen Cleaves is hit and falls, hurting his ankle, a bad sprain. He his taken from the floor to the locker room. Both teams are shell shocked. The heart and soul of the Spartan team is gone. 16:18 to go. Somehow the Spartans hang on and stay in the game.

A short while later, about 4 minutes, Cleaves returns. He his hobbling. The crowd cheers his return. To everyone's surprise he goes right out on the floor. He is slow. He limps. He can't do much at all for the team, but he does everything. It does not matter. The Spartans play on in a 4 against 5 game. He is the icon, the inspiration. The game ends, the score 89 to 76. The Spartans win.

Pandemonium ensues.

Then the TV camera zooms on Mateen. His face is wet with his own tears.

I recall my dad exclaiming, "Look at that kid crying!"
I turned to my dad, my own tears streaming and replied, "Dad, he just played the game of his life."

We all know the history after this. Izzo bought the floor and the Spartans went through the 2000 and 2001 seasons unbeaten at home and finally succumbed to Wisconsin on January 12, 2003, 63 to 64, nearly 3 years since the floor was installed.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 21, 2009 11:35 am

Member Mayhem Essay Contest Qualifying Round

Member Mayhem Message Board (go vote)

"Why I love college basketball."

The Spartans of Michigan State have owned my family coming onto 100 years. Of all the athletics, basketball takes the crown. The speed, grace, agility, talent, sweat, and pride shown by the players everyday in practice or in contest is an inspiration to achieve, to be part of the team, to demand more of yourself than you have left to give. I've seen Magic, the Flintstones, and the nets cut down and banners raised twice: 1978-9 and 1999-2000, something my parents and grandparents never saw.

Basketball is special with the elegant of blend agility, speed, power, and grace coupled with skill, intelligence, discipline, and team work. Power under refined control is a living art form. The dynamics of tactical situations coupled with the strategic are engrossing. Five playing cohesively as one is a well choreographed ballet. The crowd of spectators is right at the edge of the game with no glass or wall between them and the action. The constant action and the frenzied cheers make Beethoven's 5th seem like a ballad. The Ride of the Valkyries is not as stirring as living the moment of a well shot 3-pointer or a brute force slam dunk.

Unlike professional ball, the college game allows teams to play 2-way ball and good defensive makes college basketball dynamic, high-energy, exciting and just plain fun. The kids play for pride. The fans cheer out of pride. There is nothing else like it and nothing else will ever be quite as good.

Category: NCAAB
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