Ex-Spartans to meet in NCAA Tournament

Korie Lucious still remembers the feeling.

With the clock winding down under seven seconds in the 2010 NCAA Tournament against Maryland, Draymond Greenpushed the ball up the floor before pausing beyond the 3-point line. Green pivoted and sent a pass to Lucious, nearly grazing Delvon Roe,but finding Lucious, who fired up a three.

It was pure euphoria as the shot fell, and the Spartans piled on top of one another in triumph.

“I get the ball and I look up and see there’s a second and a half left and time to give a ball fake,” Lucious said. “They went for it and then I got it up. It felt good when it left my hand.”

It was the lasting positive memory of his time at MSU. Shortly thereafter, the Spartans fell to Butler and within a year, Lucious was dismissed from the team for a “violation of team rules.”

MSU head coach Tom Izzo recently declined to comment on the specifics of the release.

After transferring to Iowa State and sitting out a year per NCAA rules, Lucious is getting another crack at an NCAA Tournament run with the No. 10-seeded Cyclones against former teammate Garrick Sherman and No. 7 seed Notre Dame. The two teams are in the West Region and will tip off Friday in Dayton, Ohio.

Sherman became the fourth Spartan to leave the program in a span of one year — joining Lucious, guard Chris Allen and center Tom Herzog — when he announced his transfer in April 2011. Sherman left the team looking for a “fresh start,” believed to be tied to his playing time.

This season, Lucious is averaging 9.9 points and 5.7 assists per game, starting for the Cyclones and leading the team to a 22-11record while Sherman is averaged 7.1 points and 3.4 rebounds off the bench for the Fighting Irish.

In an interview two weeks ago, Lucious said he’s happy his game’s progression, which he attributed to a different style of offense.

“I felt like I always had to look over my shoulder to see if I was playing the right way Coach Izzo wanted me to play but now, even though I’m with the starters, being a starter and having the ball in my hands has made a big difference,” he said. “But at the same time, I feel like at Michigan State, I should have been able to do the same thing.”

Neither player has made contact with Izzo since their respective departure with Sherman adding he “didn’t expect to hear from him again.”

Sherman’s average minutes are up from 12.1 in his final season at MSU to 15.7 in his first year with Notre Dame. But based on where he’s at with another year of eligibility, Sherman said he’s content with his impact.

“I’m happy where I’m at and I’m glad to be contributing,” Sherman said. “I just want to continue to do whatever I can to get on the court.”

Chasing tournament glory and a chance to go pro, this year represents a fresh start for Lucious. Looking back on where he came from, Lucious said he understands his mistakes of the past, but is focused on moving forward and being successful with the Cyclones.

“Everything happens for a reason; I’m a firm believer in that,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to come here and play for a coach like (Fred) Hoiberg who will give me an opportunity to have the ball and make plays for myself and my teammates. If I could go back and do it again, I probably would, but it happened for a reason so I have no regrets.”

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