CHICAGO -- It was a night about freshmen if you wanted it to be. A good hour before tipoff of the Kentucky-Michigan State opener of the Champions Classic, I came upon an NBA general manager -- one whose team is built, more or less, to contend for the 2014 Draft Lottery -- occupying a prime courtside seat at the United Center. He was watching the Wildcats' mundane warmup drills with what really seemed like a twinkle in his eye, no doubt imagining what Julius Randle might look like in his lineup, and comparing that to what Duke's Jabari Parker might look like, or Kansas' Andrew Wiggins. I openly wondered if Wiggins, who had played casually in preseason workouts and in his first real college game, would live up to his AAU-ball rep as a big-stage performer when the Jayhawks met the Blue Devils in the nightcap. "Not many bigger stages than this one," the GM said.
Sixty-seven other NBA evaluators had joined him for what was essentially a pre-Predraft Camp on a Tuesday night in November. Whether any of them left closer to a final opinion on who should be the No. 1 pick is unlikely. Randle went for 27 and 13 in a loss and looked like a beast. Parker went for 27 and 9 in a loss and looked breathtakingly skilled. Wiggins went for 22 and 8 in a win while looking like far from a finished product. The NBA crowd will be debating over those three kids until late June, and can you blame them? It's a good debate.
Still, for those of us who cover college hoops not as a Predraft Camp but as an actual sport, freshmen turned out not to be the most important part of the Champions Classic. This event was like a four-months-early Final Four, and the most impressive team was full of players who've evolved in two, three or four seasons. By knocking off top-ranked Kentucky, 78-74, No. 2 Michigan State established itself as the early national title favorite -- and it did so by giving just seven minutes of playing time to a freshman.
The last time we saw the Spartans' Gary Harris on a big stage, it was March, in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis. He had been assigned to guard Duke senior Seth Curry, who came off a maze of screens and went off for six threes in a Blue Devils' win. "He kind of took me to school today," Harris said then of Curry, who now plays for the Warriors -- the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBDL. Last season, Harris was a 6-foot-4 freshman getting lit up by a diminutive future D-Leaguer. He was the No. 25 player in the Class of 2012 and a five-star prospect, but his role in Michigan State's rotation was as a kid who mostly just took threes, and did not drive the ball or get mixed up in scrums for rebounds or scrap like mad on defense. The reason: A nagging shoulder injury had turned him into the shell of the attacking star he was in high school and AAU. "You have not seen the Gary Harris I recruited yet," Spartans coach Tom Izzo warned after that loss to Duke.
On Tuesday, we saw the Gary Harris that Izzo recruited. Kentucky started three guards projected to be first-rounders in 2014 or 2015 -- the twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, and James Young -- and Harris was better than all of them, scoring 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting. The sophomore version of Harris blew by half the Kentucky team on a one-man fastbreak midway through the first half, setting the tone for a game in which the Spartans outscored the Wildcats 21-2 in fastbreak points. ("We've been trying to run since last year," he said, "but this year we're actually doing it.") He attacked from the wings, and went fearlessly at UK center Willie Cauley-Stein in order to finish at the rim. Harris also made a crucial steal of an inbounds pass by Randle (who made a freshman mistake) late in the second half. It was converted into a layup that put Michigan State up 71-66 and halted the Wildcats' most serious rally.
"I think it can kind of be appreciated," Izzo said, in somewhat of an understatement, "how much [Harris] played with bad shoulders last year."
Harris should be appreciated, after Tuesday, as as much of an All-America candidate as Randle, Parker or Wiggins.
Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-basketball/news/20131113/veteran-michigan-state-beats-youthful-kentucky/#ixzz2kaXMq0gF
1/25/13 - King's Court: Pressure on the Big Ten
With a 6-1 record, Michigan State sits alone atop the Big Ten standings. Just 10 days ago, though, the Spartans almost lost to a team near the bottom. At home, no less.
Nebraska -- which hasn't been to the NCAA tournament in 15 years -- trailed Michigan State by only 1 point in the game's waning minutes on Jan. 13 in East Lansing. Even after some clutch free throw shooting helped the Spartans escape with a 10-point win, the Breslin Center crowd seemed stunned that the game had been so close.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was hardly surprised.
"After debating this for a while," Izzo said Monday, "I don't think there's any question that the league is better than it's ever been, top to bottom."
Those may seem like bold words from a coach who has spent the last 30 seasons in the Big Ten, both as an MSU assistant and head coach. But no one is arguing the point.
For entire article go to: ESPN Jason King
4/12/12 - Guess who's back? http://www.freep.com/article
4/9/12 - A Guide to Michigan State’s Green-White Spring Football Game By Randy Childers
Coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons, two years removed from a share of the Big Ten title, first time since 1990, and the first ever Legends Division title, Michigan State enters this spring with a few questions. Its annual spring practice and game should answer a few of those questions.
Here are few things you need to know about Michigan State's spring intrasquad game, called the Green-White Game:
When and Where? April 28, 2012, at Spartan Stadium. The game will be at 1 p.m. and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
How are the teams chosen? Mark Dantonio divides the seniors into two squads, naming team captains for each team. Chances are these will be two of the captains during the regular season. These captains then hold a player draft of the underclassmen, assisted by their fellow seniors. Likely candidates for the captaincy would be G Chris McDonald and CB Johnny Adams. The teams are coached on one side by defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and someone from the offensive side. This year, that will likely be Dan Roushar.For the entire article go to: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news?slug=ycn-11193316
4/2/12 - Spartans' Lippett focusing on WR skills By Brian Bennett
"Tony Lippett was a busy guy for Michigan State the past two years.For entire article go to: ESPN Big Ten Blog
He is one of the best and most versatile athletes on the Spartans' roster, so Mark Dantonio put that to use. During Lippett's redshirt season in 2010, Dantonio told Lippett to start working with the defensive backs a week after he had emulated Denard Robinson on the scout team to prep for Michigan. Last season, Lippett made five starts at cornerback once injuries hit the position, and he also caught four passes while playing receiver.
Lippett said he would jump back and forth between offense and defense in different periods of practice. For a while, he was attending both offensive and defensive meetings. He was digesting two playbooks and schemes for two separate positions.
"It was definitely a challenge," Lippett said. "I had to switch my gears a lot and stay quick on my toes."
Though Lippett said he thought he "did OK" as a cornerback, he enjoys playing wide receiver more. And this spring, he's getting to concentrate on just that position.
As Michigan State started spring drills, Lippett was listed as one of the team's starting receivers. "
3/2/12 - Seth Davis > Inside College Basketball: The inside scoop on the nation's top teams...
2/29/12 - Spartan Results at the NFL Combine
"Of the six former Michigan State players who worked out at the NFL combine over the past few days, receiver Keshawn Martin and safety Trenton Robinson fared best at their respective positions in tested drills.
Martin tied for second among receivers with former Michigan wideout Junior Hemingway in the 60-yard shuttle run (11.16 seconds) and tied for fourth in the vertical jump (39.5 inches). Martin tied for eighth in the three-cone drill (6.85 seconds), tied for 10th in the 20-yard shuttle run (4.13 seconds), finished 11th in the 40-yard dash (4.45 seconds), tied for 14th in the broad jump (10-feet-2) and placed 29th in the bench press with 13 reps of 225 pounds.
Robinson tied for second among safeties in the 40 (4.52 seconds) and tied for fourth in the broad jump (10-5). He tied for seventh in the vertical jump (35 inches) and tied for 14th in the bench (15 reps).
Kirk Cousins finished seventh among quarterbacks in the three-cone drill (7.05 seconds) and tied for ninth in the broad jump (9-1). He was 12th in the 40 (4.93), 12th in the 20-yard shuttle run (4.5 seconds) and 14th in the vertical jump (28.5 inches). Cousins, however, made his mark in passing drills, completing 14 of 16 attempts. ESPN's John Clayton declared him the "big winner" Sunday and said he's among three contending to be the No. 3 QB prospect in the draft behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III."For the entire article go to: freep.com/spartans
2/26/12 - KenPom.com Player of the Year Standings
Valid through games of Saturday, February 25
|1||Thomas Robinson, Kansas||.547|
|2||Draymond Green, Michigan St.||.536|
|3||Jared Sullinger, Ohio St.||.488|
|4||Anthony Davis, Kentucky||.462|
|Photo courtesy of www.naismithawards.com|
For entire standings go to: http://kenpom.com/kpoy.php
2/22/12 - Luke Winn article from Inside College Basketball: Click here for article
"MICHIGAN STATE. The current Spartans are more efficient than the versions Tom Izzo got to the Final Four in 2005, 2009 and 2010. They're the most dominant rebounding team in the country, grabbing 57.3 percent of available boards on the offensive and defensive glass. They have a senior leader in point forward Draymond Green who does not seem inclined to let them bow out of the NCAA tournament early. The stats, coach and intangibles all meet the championship standard."
2/22/12 - Wooden Watch: Jason King's POY ballot: Click here for article
- Anthony Davis, Kentucky: Davis had 13 points and 11 rebounds against arguably the best player he’ll face in the SEC all season in Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie. What’s strange is that Moultrie finished with the exact same stat line. Davis is still the biggest reason Kentucky is 27-1 and ranked No. 1 in America.
- Thomas Robinson, Kansas: The junior forward had 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in just 24 minutes against Texas Tech on Saturday. Robinson continues to move up NBA draft boards and is now projected as a top-five pick by most media outlets, meaning this is likely his final year in college.
- Draymond Green, Michigan State: A senior, Green cracked my top five for the first time last week, and he responded by scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in each of his next two games. He also averaged six assists in those contests, both of which were wins. Green is the leading candidate to win Big Ten Player of the Year.
2/16/12 - Titus' Top 12 NCAA Power Rankings: Click here for article
6. Michigan State
"The following is a list of the top 10 teams in the current coaches' poll. The first number in parentheses represents the number of games each team has played against schools that are currently ranked in the coaches' poll, and the second number represents how many of those games were road wins.
1. Kentucky (5, 0)
2. Syracuse (5, 1)
3. Missouri (4, 1)
4. Duke (7, 1)
5. Kansas (7, 1)
6. Ohio State (8, 1)
7. North Carolina (7, 0)
8. Michigan State (9, 3)
9. Georgetown (4, 1)
10. Baylor (6, 1)
Four things stand out: (1) It's scary that my power rankings are so similar to the coaches' poll. I can't tell if this means I'm losing my mind or they've finally developed some sense; (2) Kentucky and North Carolina, who are considered the two most talented teams in college basketball, are the only members of the top 10 who don't have a signature road win; (3) except for Georgetown, the top three teams have played fewer ranked teams than the rest of the top 10; and (4) Michigan State doesn't mess around.
Obviously, teams can't control their conference schedules or how good the other teams in their conference are, so it's somewhat unfair to knock Syracuse and Kentucky for not playing more ranked teams ("somewhat" being the crucial word here). But in the same breath, it's not unfair to applaud Michigan State for scheduling games away from East Lansing against North Carolina, Duke, and Gonzaga, when they knew they would also have to play Florida State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and they knew that the Big Ten would be strong this year. And it's certainly not unfair to give the Spartans props for going into ranked teams' houses and leaving with wins, especially their huge win at Ohio State on Saturday. For those of you who wonder how Michigan State always seems to overachieve in the NCAA tournament, this list provides a good answer — year after year, the Spartans are the most battle-tested team in the country. All season long, they play and often beat good teams in hostile environments, so of course they're going to feel confident that they can beat good teams on neutral courts in March."_______________________________________
Yesterday's odd turn in Monty Madaris signing
February 1, 2012
Excepts from Article: "Madaris Coach puzzled by Signing Day situation"
By: Jim Comparoni
Monty Madaris' high school football coach sounded off at his displeasure with Madaris not sending in his LOI yesterday during National Signing Day as scheduled.
"Madaris has apparently signed the letter of intent, according to sources, but has not faxed it to East Lansing.For the entire article go to: http://michiganstate.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1326589
"I don't know what he's doing," said Cincinnati Moeller high school coach John Rodenberg, when reached at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening. "He gets to the fax machine and he closes it off; he hits it, he closes it off.
"I don't know what his problem is. He is making more of it than it really is. It (Michigan State) is a great school. He wants to go there. I just really don't know."
There are no indications that other schools have influenced Madaris to reconsider. He selected MSU over Cincinnati on Sunday. Earlier in the recruiting process he had firm scholarship offers from Florida State, Michigan and others but those schools filled up their scholarship slots at wide receiver while he was contemplating a visit.
MSU nearly filled up without Madaris as well, but apparently still had a slot waiting for him during the last weekend prior to Signing Day.
Madaris announced his commitment to MSU after 11 p.m. on Sunday night via social media, but has rarely been available for interviews.
Rodenberg said he had been in contact with MSU defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett on Wednesday. Barnett is MSU's primary recruiter in Cincinnati.
"I have talked to him (Barnett) a little bit," Rodenberg said. "I told him I didn't know anything. He (Barnett) is going through his (Monty's) guardian and his uncle. He (Monty) is at one of those two places."
Rodenberg indicated that problems with cold feet, stage fright or general accountability issues have not been a problem with Madaris during his standout career at Moeller.
"I think it's an isolated incident, but if he doesn't watch it I would imagine they would pull the scholarship," Rodenberg said. "But he (Monty) doesn't answer my texts. I don't text him anymore. I haven't talked to him since 3 o'clock today and don't intend to.
"To be dead honest, I've washed my hands of it. I want nothing to do with him. I don't know whether he has signed it or not; I could care less. It's his fault.
"I haven't talked to him, don't intend to talk to him. To be honest, I could care less what he does now. I'm sorry. I hate to be that way, but it's his problem now. I honestly do not know. I don't even know where he is at. I don't know if he is at his house or at his uncle's house or where he is at.
"They (the MSU coaches) know that I've washed my hands of it. I have a good relationship with those guys. Everything is good there.
"I mean he is just making more of it than it is. I don't know what his problem is; I really don't."
Madaris, a gifted, physical, game-breaking 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver, is ranked the No. 21 player in Ohio by Rivals.com.
Sources indicate that Madaris is hesitant about going away from home for college. Being hesitant about leaving home is the main reason that the University of Cincinnati remained in his top two throughout the process."