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Tom Izzo: A Numerical Summary

14 seasons as head coach

14 .500-or-better Big Ten regular season finishes

12 NCAA Tournament appearances

12 first-team all-Big Ten player selections

10 20-win seasons

8 Sweet Sixteens

6 Elite Eights

5 Final Fours

5 Big Ten regular season championships

5 former assistants currently coaching Division 1 teams

4 Big Ten player-of-the-year selections

3 30-win seasons

2 Big Ten Tournament championships

2 national championship game appearances

1 national championship

.738 NCAA Tournament winning percentage (31-11)

.711 all-time winning percentage (336-137)

.690 Big Ten regular season winning percentage (160-72)

Zero 4-year players without a Final Four appearance

Nothing but class

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I’ve decided not to post any commentary of a forward-looking nature until we get over to the new site. For now, let’s revel in the season that has been.

One of the things that made this season so special was the number of guys who stepped up at various times during the season to get the team to 31 wins, despite multiple injuries disrupting the regular lineup during the season.  For the season, nine different players led the team in scoring at least once, seven different players led the team in rebounding at least once, and five different players led the team in assists at least once (including ties in all three cases).

To look back at some of those contributions, I’ve put together a list of the top ten individual performances over the course of the season.  I’ve split the list into five regular season performances and five postseason performances.

Regular Season Performances

5. Raymar Morgan vs. Oklahoma State
29 points on 9-11 FG shooting and 11-13 FT shooting, 5 rebounds
Few MSU fans got to see this game, after MSU dropped the opener in the Old Spice Classic, but Morgan put up some huge numbers against a team that would eventually make the NCAA Tournament.

4. Delvon Roe at Michigan
14 points on 5-7 FG shooting, 10 rebounds
From the game recap: “Delvon Roe finally put together the kind of game we’ve been hoping for against a smaller lineup: 14 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.  He took advantage of the mismatch against Zach Novak and the other guards that were matched up with him inside–and made 4 of 6 free throws to boot.”

3. Kalin Lucas at Illinois
18 points on 7-14 FG shooting, 4 assists, 1 turnovers
You could put Lucas on this list as many times as you wanted, but we’ll go with his extremely efficient performance in MSU’s best win of the Big Ten season.  That performance included a layup Lucas created out of nothing to put MSU ahead 60-58 with 5 minutes go after Illinois had rallied from a 7-point second-half deficit.

2. Durrell Summers at Ohio State
26 points on 6-9 three-point shooting, 4 rebounds
From the game recap: “The tale of the first half was Durrell Summers single-handedly keeping the team afloat, scoring 16 of the team’s 26 points as the rest of the team struggled with turnovers and 3-point shooting against the Ohio State 3-2 zone.”

1. Goran Suton vs. Wisconsin
16 points on 6-6 FT shooting, 10 rebounds, 2 assists
From the game recap: “Suton was a warrior.  After not starting the game (apparently to reward Tom Herzog–he of the graceful reverse layup–for his hard work in practice), Suton posted 16 points and 10 rebounds–most of them in the second half.  He pulled down a couple huge offensive rebounds, as did Raymar Morgan (5 rebounds in 17 minutes), during the comeback from 12 down.  Give Suton credit for keeping his composure after the airballed 3-pointer (his third 3-point miss of the game) and leading the team to victory.”

Honorable Mention: Travis Walton’s back-to-back 16-point performances at the Old Spice Classic.  Marquise Gray’s back-to-back 12-point performances in the same setting.  Suton’s 18-point performance against Texas in just his second game back from the knee injury.  Morgan’s 22-point/13-rebound performance against Northwestern to help MSU open the conference season with two road wins.  Chris Allen’s 17-point performance (on 4-7 three-point shooting) in the same game, against the 1-3-1 zone.  Lucas’ 21-point performance against Purdue in the regular season finale.  And just for Mrs. SW: Austin Thornton’s 9-point performance (on 3-3 three-point shooting) in the opener against Idaho.

Postseason Performances

5. Goran Suton vs. North Carolina
17 points on 3-4 three-point shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks
While the outcome of the game was a disappointment, let’s not forget Suton went toe to toe with one of the most celebrated post players in the history of college basketball and matched him almost play for play.

4. Kalin Lucas vs. Kansas
18 points on 7-7 FT shooting, 7 assists, 4 steals
From the game recap: “Kalin Lucas could not be any more clutch.”  I think this play will forever pop into my head whenever I hear the phrase “and one.”

3. Raymar Morgan vs. UConn
18 points on 7-13 FG shooting, 9 rebounds, 5 steals
From the game recap: “Raymar Morgan played the best game of his career . . . against the very epitome of the kind of tall, athletic opponent he normally struggles against.  I thought his confidence would melt away after he had his first shot of the game blocked by Thabeet, but MSU retained the ball (on a team rebound) and Morgan came right back and knocked down a shot.  From there, his confidence swelled.”

2. Goran Suton vs. Louisville
19 points on 3-5 three-point shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 assists
From the game recap: “Tom Izzo’s game plan in the half-court offense was to put Suton in the middle of the top two defenders in Louisville’s 2-3 zone and use Suton’s shooting/passing skills to break down the defense.  Suton responded beautifully, almost single-handedly keeping MSU even with the Cardinals through the first 20 minutes.  On defense, he completely shut down Samardo Samuels.  On his first three touches of the ball in the post, Samuels traveled, missed a shot, and got called for an offensive foul.  Samuels never bounced back and went scoreless for the game.”

1. Travis Walton vs. USC
18 points on 8-13 FG shooting, 2 assists, 2 steals
From the game recap: “On the first possession of the game–when USC came out employing the box and one–Walton got the ball about 18 feet from the basket in an open spot in the zone.  Usually, you’d expect him to hesitate at least briefly before shooting the ball so early in the game.  But, instead, he immediately squared up and knocked down the shot.  From their, his confidence ballooned; eventually he knocked down a couple shots where he had to adjust the arc of the shot due to an onrushing USC defender.”

Honorable Mention: Chris Allen’s 17-point performance against Minnesota in the conference tournament.  Korie Lucious’ 16-point performance to try to mount a comeback against Ohio State in the conference tournament.  Draymond Green’s 16-point performance against Robert Morris.  Suton’s 20-point/9-rebound performance against Kansas.  Lucas’ 21-point/5-assist performance against UConn.

Who would have thought that Travis Walton, of all players, would end up making having arguably the key offensive performance of the entire season?  And we’re not even talking about his defense.  The games in which he locked down A.J. Abrams, Manny Harris, and A.J. Price could have easily been included on the lists above.

Coffee Talk: What do all of you think?  Which performance merits top billing?  What great individual performances did I miss?

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76 possessions

21 turnovers

Turnover percentage: 27.6%

I don’t think this North Carolina team was going to be beaten under any circumstances tonight, but I sure would have liked to see the MSU team that played with such poise and precision in the two previous game give the Tar Heels a run for their money.

A disappointing finale to an otherwise superlative season.

More tomorrow.

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Pop Quiz

Question: What was the defensive play that preceded The Dunk?

(While you’re thinking about it: I’ve decided that Summers’ throwdown is definitely worth of being labeled “The Dunk.”  The combination of the spectacularness of the play and the stage on which it was made make it the greatest dunk in the history of the program.  The Magic-to-Kelser dunk off the full-court pass in the 1979 championship game is iconic, but had no bearing on the outcome of the game.  The Cleaves-to-Peterson play against Iowa State was probably more key in terms of determing the game outcome, but I think of that more as an alley-oop than as a straight-up dunk.)

Answer: A defensive sequence in which 6’5″ (if that) Draymond Green was guarding 7’3″ Hasheem Thabeet.  UConn got the ball to Thabeet in the post.  But Green’s superb defensive positioning prevented Thabeet from getting into position to score.  Thabeet was forced to throw an awkward pass out to the perimeter, which was deflected by Raymar Morgan.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Other post-DVR-review thoughts:

  1. Apparently sitting so far from the action impaired by ability to write an accurate game recap.  Corrections/clarifications: The “team rebound” MSU got that Morgan scored off early in the game was Thabeet blocking Morgan’s first shot out of bounds.  Travis Walton recorded 8, not 9, assists (still, that’s equal to the total number of assists for the entire UConn team).  Suton’s backdoor pass to Summers came with 2 and a half minutes left, not in the final minute.  Gray’s dunk came off a Raymar Morgan pass.  Idong Ibok did more than just absorb fouls; he also had a couple very nice rebounds.
  2. Man, did we push the ball on offense.  I don’t think I’ve seen us that aggressive in transition since the 2005 Torbert/Brown/Ager/Anderson team.
  3. Just before Korie Lucious went on his 9-point scoring burst late in the first half, MSU trailed by 2 points, despite the fact they were only 2-10 from 3-point range at that point.  That’s perhaps the hallmark of this team relative to last year’s team: Even when they’re not hitting on all cylinders, they find ways to stay in the game and put themselves in position to win the game in the second half.
  4. I’ve read some criticism of Clark Kellogg in the last couple days–with some going so far as to say they miss Billy Packer.  I’m not quite sure where’s that’s coming from.  Kellogg provides solid analytical commentary, with just a touch of humor (fouling out equals a “Dairy Queen”).  I think he’s held back a little bit in terms of the depth of the analysis.  But that makes sense for someone calling games with large TV audiences, which include a lot of viewers who aren’t die-hard basketball fans.  The main thing is that he doesn’t superimpose his own strongly-held views on to the game.  (Unlike some other major network talking heads, for example, he pointed out early and often that MSU would do well to push the ball in transition in last night’s game.)  Plus, he gets props for revelaing that Draymond Green’s nickname is “Dancing Bear.”

Alright, on to North Carolina.  Less than 24 hours to go.

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NCAA Final Four: Michigan State Spartans v Connecticut Huskies

I guess we can run a little, eh, Digger?

Raymar Morgan: 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists.  Who’s the bozo that called him a “role player”?

Game recap after I get some sleep.

For now, more of The Dunk:

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Thursday Night Links

What to do with Mr. Ibok

For a fifth-year scholarship player, Idong Ibok has logged very few minutes this year.  158 minutes, to be exact.  But he’s played an effective role in those minutes, serving as a designated defender against opponents with true centers of the seven-foot (or near-seven-foot) variety.  His last seven outings of 5 minutes or more have come against this group of four players: Cole Aldrich (twice), Ralph Sampson (thrice), Mike Tisdale, and JuJuan Johnson.

Upon casual analysis, then, one might expect Mr. Ibok to log 10-15 minutes or so against the 7’3″ Hasmeen Thabeet on Saturday.  I wonder, though, whether that would be playing right into UConn’s hands.  Consider:

  • Thabeet is, by most accounts, not a terribly polished post player.  The most important thing, then, is to keep him away from the basket so he’s not in position for easy baskets off passes or rebounds.  Goran Suton, Delvon Roe, or even Draymond Green might be better suited to that task.  Ibok tends to be most effective against players who are going to post up and try to shoot over their defenders.
  • On the other end of the court, Thabeet would be able to rotate off Ibok to block the shots of MSU players driving the lane with little danger of Ibok scoring off a pass.  If Thabeet is forced to guard Suton, that clearly creates an advantage for MSU (but may require going with a small lineup).  And, while neiter Delvon Roe and Draymond Green have shown great outside shooting ability to date, they are both quite capable of converting shots 5-8 feet from the basket and/or making good passes when the defense is scrambling to rotate.

What do you guys think?  Do we throw our seven-footer at theirs?  Or concede the height differential and focus on creating a mismatch of our own?

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An impressive list

SpartanDan did the follow-up work.  Coaches who have made the Final Four with (at least) three different completely distinct rosters of active players:

– John Wooden (UCLA ‘62, ‘67, ‘71, ‘75)
– Dean Smith (UNC ‘67, ‘72, ‘77, ‘81, ‘91, ‘95)
– Mike Krzyzewski* (Duke ‘86, ‘90, ‘94, ‘99, ‘04)
– Denny Crum (Louisville ‘72, ‘80, ‘86)
– Adolph Rupp (Kentucky ‘42, ‘48, ‘58, ‘66)
– Roy Williams* (Kansas ‘91, ‘02, UNC ‘05, ‘09)
– Bob Knight (Indiana ‘73, ‘81, ‘87, ‘92)
– Lute Olson (Iowa ‘80, Arizona ‘88, ‘94, ‘01)
– Rick Pitino* (Providence ‘87, Kentucky ‘93, ‘97, Louisville ‘05)
– Jack Gardner (Kansas St. ‘48, Utah ‘61, ‘66)
– Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV ‘77, ‘87, ‘91)
– Forddy Anderson (Bradley ‘50, ‘54, MSU ‘57)
– Jim Boeheim* (Syracuse ‘87, ‘96, ‘03)
– Eddie Sutton (Arkansas ‘78, Oklahoma St. ‘95, ‘04)
– Jim Calhoun* (UConn ‘99, ‘04, ‘09)
– Tom Izzo* (MSU ‘99, ‘05, ‘09)

*Active

That’s a who’s who of college basketball coaches.  Just 16 of them.  Ever. And we’ve got one.

Let us perish the thought that he will ever depart the shadows of our ivy covered halls.

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