MSU basketball is back. With it comes high expectations, a beloved coach and the return of one of the best student sections in college basketball. It all got kick started Friday night with the annual Izzone Campout.
From crowd surfing by Adreian Payne and Keith Appling to late night basketball games, the night was electrifying with the sweet smell of campfires. More than 3,000 people camped out for a chance at exclusive lower bowl seats in the Izzone.
“I really believe that we can’t be a championship team without you,” men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo said as he addressed the large crowd during the main event. “Have fun, behave, enjoy the moment and please be the best you can be this year and we’re going to do something special.”
Chris Gallick, a co-director of the basketball student section, said the campout was the biggest in history to his knowledge. He said about 1,000 tent sites were set up at Munn Field for the annual event.
Every student who bought student section tickets, had the opportunity to register for the campout. In order to receive lower bowl seats for this season, students had to attend the campout and not miss any check-ins throughout the night.
The lower bowl seats approximately 1,400 students and is chosen based on last year’s attendance, as well as the campout.
“It’s insane, especially after last year,” Gallick said. “Last year we had a smaller section, only about 2,400 ticket sales and that kind of transitioned to the campout. The weather wasn’t very agreeable (last year), so this year to have gorgeous weather and all these fans out here is incredible. It really changes the experience.”
The students had many activities they could participate in throughout the night. There was several bounce houses earlier in the night, as well as many pick-up games of basketball, football or soccer being played.
The highlight of the night for many students, including kinesiology sophomore Madison Rupert, was seeing the players and coaches around 9:30 p.m.
Most of the students gathered around the stage near Munn Ice Arena and many chants of “Go Green,” and the singing of the school fight song rang through the air as the crowd highly anticipated the arrival of Izzo and this year’s Spartan basketball team.
“When all the players got up on stage and started dancing and asking questions, that was really cool,” Rupert said, who bought tickets and has high hopes of making the cut for lower bowl this year.
Izzo addressed the crowd with a speech about once again being the best student section in the country. He then handed the microphone off to each player as they introduced themselves to the fans.
Izzo and the players also answered many questions, including one addressed to Payne, “How bad are you going to beat Kentucky?”
With many experts picking MSU as the No. 1 team in the nation and a National Championship contender, the Spartans will kick off the season on Nov. 8th against McNeese State. MSU will then travel to Chicago to take on perennial powerhouse Kentucky in the Champions Classic.