Excitement surrounds Hollis’ next big idea


After starting the past two seasons in unique venues, MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo is learning not to take anything athletic director Mark Hollis says lightly.

The Spartans have opened up the last two years aboard the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of San Diego and in an aircraft hanger at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, respectively, and it appeared it only was a matter of time before the next marquee event hit the schedule.

Well, it seems college basketball’s “mad scientist” has found his next big coup.

Hollis recently told Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis the Spartans have discussed an event honoring armed forces, in a massive college basketball event on Veterans Day to open the 2013-14 season. According to the report, the Spartans would be one of eight teams playing in the event featuring four games simultaneously taking place at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which happens to be the site of the 2014 Final Four.

Although the details regarding the event have not been finalized, Izzo said he’s come to expect this type of idea from his athletic director and he’s definitely on board for it.

“You know, Hollis talked to me a little bit about it, but I should know if he even mentions something, it could be a reality,” Izzo said.

“As long as I don’t have to fly to Germany and fly back a couple days later, it’d be great with me, whatever they decide. I’m all in.”

Hollis did not immediately return a call for comment on Thursday.

However, Hollis told Sports Illustrated the event would feature four games all starting 15 minutes apart to “simulate the madness” of the first week of the NCAA Tournament — no doubt a familiar feeling for the MSU basketball program.

“We’re going to squeeze everything into a three-hour time period,” Hollis told Sports Illustrated.

“We’re talking with eight institutions right now that have a very high interest and have that weekend open, and we’re going to partner with the 12 [military] bases that are around Dallas, so we can make it a celebration for the guys at Fort Hood and others.”

The opportunities granted through Hollis’ ideas certainly aren’t lost on the players. For junior guard Keith Appling, that’s especially the case.

Since his freshman season, where the team opened up its season in Hawaii for the annual Maui Invitational, Appling has been an integral part of Spartan teams playing in special venues.

And although the experience has been felt multiple times through unique openers and NCAA Tournaments, it’s still one worth cherishing.

“I just try to take it all in because I know for a fact that there’s no other program in the country that’s had the opportunity to do some of the things or play in some of the arenas that we’ve played at,” Appling said.

“I don’t take it for granted; I try to cherish every moment.”

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