At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
Some kid from Eastern Kentucky won it...
Adeian Payne had a sick dunk and a funny celebration...
But the highlight of the dunk contest goes to Cleanthony Early of Wichita St.!
Izzo inherited a ridiculously loaded MSU team in 1995. Quinton Brooks is largely hailed as one of the best small forwards to lace 'em up for MSU. Power forward Jamie Feick went on to play for the 76'ers. Ray Weathers went on to play for the Suns. Jon Garavaglia was a McDonalds All American and Mr. Basketball. In his first year, he also brought in Morris Peterson of the Toronto Raptors and Antonio Smith. Izzo took that team all the way to the second round of the NIT.
Then on Feb.17, 1996 There was a rollover accident on M-14 involving U-M player Maurice Taylor’s Ford Explorer. Teammates Robert Traylor, Louis Bullock, Willie Mitchell, Ron Oliver and recruit Mateen Cleaves were all in the vehicle.
Izzo capitalized, adding Mateen Cleaves(Pistons) and David Thomas(founder of Wendy's) who helped MSU all the way back to the second round of the NIT. The parade of blue chips continued with Charlie Bell(Suns) and Andre Hutson(Beat up Chuck Norris when Matt Trannon was but a twinkle in his father's eye). This ushered in the Golden Age of MSU basketball('98,'99, 00) when MSU would bookend a National Championship with two additional Final 4's. Loaded as those teams were, this Golden Age led to the great Tom Izzo “More with Less” fallacy. Because MSU does not recruit on the level of Kentucky, Kansas and Duke(them and 342 other schools) Izzo somehow gained the “Beilein” reputation, the coach who advances in the tournament despite his (Perceived) lack of talent.
Izzo has led the Spartans for 19 long years. Impressively, he has had them in the NCAA Tournament for the last 17 of them(One or two of those came with a wink and a nod from the selection committee, but we'll come back to that). That's not quite the 34 year bowl streak Michigan enjoyed under Bo-Mo-Carr, but that kind of consistency is rare in college basketball. Under Izzo's reign, MSU has been to 6 Final Fours and won a National Championship. They've also been bounced in the first round 4 times and lost in the Sweet 16 4 times. Until recently, MSU just dominated Michigan in terms of head to head as well as the post-season. Beilein has obviously turned that around in the last 4 years, winning 6 of the last 9. But that is a local issue. You don't come up with an OP title like that simply because there's a new sheriff in town. No, what leads me to believe that the end is near for Izzo is something much more sinister. Recruiting.
Despite what the media would have you believe, Izzo has simply never HAD to do more with less. He has always been a good recruiter, and he has always had more. I went back and looked at some recruiting numbers and outcomes. There are a number of caveats here. Trey Burke and Caris Lavert were 3* recruits. But to some extent you can look at it as a numbers game(like fantasy football). There's something like a 60% chance that Fantasypros(or Rivals) is going to have each player ranked correctly, a 20% chance they'll be significantly better, and a 20% chance they're going to be worse(Unless you're John Beilein). But if you look at MSU's elite recruit Rivals numbers as far as they go back adding a star for each year of experience(assuming that a sophomore 4* is equal to a freshman 5* and that a 3* player encompasses too great a range to even consider) you find:
2002: 5* Elite 8
2003: 4* 5* First Round
2004: 4* 5* Final 4
2005: bupkis(Roster score of 32) First Round
2006: 4* 4*(RS 28) Second Round
2007: 4* 4* 4*(RS 37) Sweet 16
2008: 4* 5* (RS 36) Runner Up
2009: 4* 4*(RS 51!) Final 4
2010: 4* 5 *(RS 53) First Round
2011: 5*(RS 43) Sweet 16
2012: 5*(Harris) 4* 4*(RS 46) Sweet 16
2013: bupkis(RS 38) Elite 8
2014: 4*(RS 24)
That's a score of 24 for next year. The next lowest would be the 28 from 2006, the year where MSU scraped into the tournament(wink, nod) .500 in conference and got bounced the first weekend. That team was a 4* player better than next year's roster. The next lowest was the 2005 team(two 4* players better) that also went .500 in conference and lost in the first round. For reference, 2009's Final 4 team was rated 51. For those keeping score at home, in the measurable past that's a Roster Average of 40 points(the equivalent of 8 5* freshmen). More with more.
Assuming that Dawson stays and Harris leaves, on paper this coming year's State team will be the worst (from a rivals ratings and experience standpoint) since the modern era of recruiting sites(turn of the century). With Izzo reaching for 3* recruits these days, and the NCAA taking steps to weed out thug ball, I don't see much help on the horizon for them either. You're looking at Dawson as a 5* senior, Valentine and Costello as 4* juniors, and that 4* freshman point guard who can't shoot coming in. That's it.
So what happened to Izzo's recruiting? Several things.
Somewhere in the early 2000's, the NBA stopped playing defense. You see that 5* all the way up there next to 2003? That's Shannon Brown. That's the last one of the guys represented here that went on to the NBA. You're looking at a decade of player development failure. Obviously, the NBA is the dream for a lot of recruits, and Izzo just plain isn't getting it done. Draymond Green(3* recruit not included) should also be mentioned. Not only is he getting 20 minutes per game in the NBA despite playing for MSU, but he is doing it as an undersized defensive specialist. In a league where the regular season has become the all star game.
The Breslin Center was state of the art in 1989, but it has barely been touched since then. I'm no interior decorator, but moldy concrete is generally not the way to go.
Style: Michigan State's defensive mandate is clear: If your man gains an advantage on you, push him, grab him, do what you've got to do. It works great if you can get away with it, but this year MSU is collecting personal fouls like Pokemon cards
I can understand Izzo's feelings of entitlement, as he has benefitted from lazy Big Ten officiating for his entire career, but if you make contact with your hand, arm or elbow away from your body, it is a foul. It has always been a foul. He made jokes after the UConn game about his players not being allowed to "touch anybody" and I can totally see where he's coming from. Who would have ever thought they'd make him play by the rules?
(Related)Results: Call it Karma. Call it correlation without causation. But MSU has badly underperformed their talent level against Michigan(JMo foul trouble aside) or more importantly in the post-season since the Wonders Hall incident. It sounds great, they made it to the Sweet 16 three times. But before the Virginia upset their post season scalps were pretty weak. St. Louis, Long Island, Valpo, Memphis, Delaware, Harvard. Sixth Seed Memphis is the only one that even moves the needle. 2010 stands out as Izzo's most glaring failure, as their most talented team(RS 53) lost out in the first round. With a 4-6 year window to grab the attention of high school kids, Izzo's time is running out.
(Related) Disillusionment. Izzo seems generally unhappy, and his interaction with the press has lost an air of...sanity.
If you're keeping score at home, he comes into the press conference near tears. He rips his own recruiting, whining that he has to play guys he hasn't played in a month. Then he cries about the officiating. Then he cries at the officiating again. Then he complains about poor Keith Appling's wrist.
I don't know if many recruits want to play for a sniveling whining excuse machine.
Then you've got the UConn press conference. His team was just upset by a team that by most accounts has no business in the Final 4, and Izzo seems...Relieved
I dont know of many coaches who would seem that happy that their season was over, that they wouldn't have to coach that particular group of players again. With this group though, he probably wasn't alone.
This is the most concerning if I am a Michigan State fan. The man calls attention to the Federal Rape Investigation that has been kept out of the media...For no other reason than that he is addicted to making excuses. Then he calls it “ridiculous” and says that he's “sick of it”. Now, whatever you think of the Wonder's Hall incident...Put yourself in the shoes of the victim. Then look at what the mouthpiece of your school is saying about the event that changed your life. Even if that's what you're thinking...What kind of human being is so self-absorbed and stupid that they can spout off PUBLICLY about such a terrible allegation as a personal annoyance? And then when they asked him to elaborate, he told members of the press, “Don't mess with me right now”. You brought it up sir. The MSU student newspaper just broke the story that Federal Authorities are investigating the victim's claim that the University "engaged in activities to malign her character" in retaliation for her reporting the assault. I am sure the victim is quite sorry for inconveniencing a man of Izzo's stature. http://statenews.com/article/2014/04/student-claimed-msu-retaliated-against-her-for-reported-assault
Most players dont like being trashed in the media and getting the full Bobby Knight treatment in front of their friends and family. Even the biased MSU media admits that he goes too far http://www.freep.com/article/20140113/BLOG05/301130041/hey-joe-michigan-state-spartans-tom-izzo But Izzo seems unable to coach any other way, and his talent level is shifting accordingly.
They say that you want to leave a program “Better than you found it”, and the guy won a Championship and went to a bunch of Final 4's, but if he bailed for the NBA or even retired with the roster in its current state...What would that do to his legacy? Everyone has an instinct for self-preservation,but the words “cowardly” and “selfish” might come up. Not in the media of course, they write what he tells them to write. I mean in living rooms and around water coolers.
With all of this said, Izzo could pull through this in two or three years. For MSU, that simple metric does seem to predict season outcome pretty well, but if you look at it, Beilein won a Big Ten Championship with a roster score of 5. Beilein made it to the NCAA Championship game with a roster score of 13. But Tom Izzo is no John Beilein. Can you imagine what Beilein would do with the 40's Izzo has averaged over his career? I very much look forward to finding out.
Tonight, Michigan basketball strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson posted a great video of Caris performing a jumping drill during his freshman year. He first turned the wrong way, and then slipped on the jump. The link is here:
Also, if you click on the "campsanderson" in the upper right corner, assuming you are on a computer (lower left corner on a phone), there are many other videos of our guys doing strength and conditioning type stuff, including the famous GR3 12'3" vertical jump.
It's become clear over the years that our staff does a great job at developing players, and Sanderson is an underrated part of that. The work he did this past summer with Nik and Caris was obviously fantastic and paid huge divedends. Next year look for Donnal to play a big role due to the time he's put in with Sanderson this year.
Close game late. I do not miss this being our biggest accomplishment though.
Seth's front pager (Link, here: http://mgoblog.com/content/hokepoints-beilein-vs-all-time-recent-guys ) where he opined on recent Michigan basketball coaches included a component highlighting the future NBA players each coach recruited.
That piece led me to thinking - there were a ton of great recruits that came in with hype and expectations that didn't end up having the impact many expected. Some are more obvious than others - Jerod Ward being the #1 national recruit in 1994 for example. But who are the guys you really thought would have brought about the current Basketball Rennaisance on an expedited time table?
Talking strictly about recruits that were thought to have NBA potential - this is not your time to throw out Avery Queen/Dommanic Ingerson references.
My choice: Albert White. I saw this guy in High School while he was playing for Inkster and he was an unstopable scoring machine. His senior season at Inkster High, White averaged 31 points, 15.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 3.0 blocks. He was a McDonald's All-American when that used to mean "virtual lock for NBA stardom". While he was "ok" as a freshman at UM (9.0 ppg/4.7 rpg), he wound up being jettisoned by Fisher and transferring to Missouri for a variety of reasons (relationship with Fisher, ties to Martin, etc). At Missouri his stats were very good, but mostly empty - and he never even got a sniff in the NBA.
Who you got?
Hey, MGofolks: Don’t let some hack SI writer get you down…
Just think of things we've had that no one else ever will. Stroll now down memory lane, if you care, for this week marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of perhaps the merriest and most glorious week in all of Ann Arbor party lore. [I know, I’m wading headlong into tl;dr territory.]
It begins on April fool’s, when Sean Higgins sends hoards of crazy, Hash Bashing kids into the streets to celebrate the Illini-hilation in the national semi-final game (OK, it isn’t anything near annihilation, but a win is a win when the stakes are win-or-go-home). Hello, Ann Arbor Police. Nothing to see here. Nope. We’re just dancing. Just happy to be here.
But the festivities are just getting revved up…
Two days later, Glenn Rice (doubtlessly cooler than April pool water), Loy Vaught , Terry Mills, Rumeal Robinson (OK… maybe Rumeal still has reason to be sad), Mark Hughes, Mike Griffin, and co. (Ooooooos!) top off our magical tournament run by snipping the twine in Seattle. Rose Bowl: Check. MBB National Champs: Check, check.
Meanwhile… Some shlub of an ex-Michigan coach sits next to his suitcase, drinking a cup of cold coffee somewhere near a town the size of Abilene.
But back in A-squared, those same crazy kids who caused such a ruckus a couple of nights ago (and whose numbers have grown to outrageous proportions) get started in on a night of stop-light-hanging-awning-crashing-Rick’s/Charley’s-mobbing mayhem at the corner of Church and South U. For the record (and since the statute of limitations renders me now free from prosecution), I can be seen dancing up on the overhang outside the ballet studio on the NW corner, and while my judgment is a bit clouded, my view of the revelry and riot cops is largely unobstructed. It also absolves me of any responsibility for that news van on its side over there. We pause to marvel at just how long our hoots and hollers echo into the drizzle and beer-soaked mist, eventually heading home at dawn to dream of errant hail-Mary jumpers at the buzzer.
But wait! As if that weren’t enough… or as if we need any more excuses to skip a day - or maybe a week - of classes, this little travelling band from the burning shores of California rolls in to town and sets up shop for a two night juke-joint rollick in the very space our round-ball heroes had just toiled all winter (to a third place Big Ten finish, one may note).
Those who are in attendance can attest: This space is hot! Part victory parade, part carnival, part bacchanal, the April 5th and 6th Crisler dates rank among the tightest Dead shows of the era. I, like many of my fellow pranksters, shake my bones through both long, crazy nights, hardly stopping to rest between them. I do, however, try to bang out a paper in the West Quad basement computing center at about 4am. Unfortunately for my GPA that semester, that little smiley-faced Mac guy won’t stop laughing at me. Paper’s late. Go figure.
As the magic bus pulls on to Stadium, we hear rumors of friends heading to Milwaukee to follow the band, but most of us can’t take five or six years to graduate, so we finally roll into bed for our first real sleep in five days. When we wake (some of us only just in time for Monday classes), we stop to wonder if we had ever been there at all.
I don’t know about you, but thinking back on it brings a smile (smile, smile) to the face of this sad Wolverine.
Anyone else care to share their own details from that week?