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Thursday, July 24, 2014


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Final Four streak over for Izzo, Spartans


Seniors now first group of four-year players under Izzo to miss Final Four




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Head coach Tom Izzo talks to senior guard Keith Appling during the game against Connecticut on March 30, 2014, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Spartans lost in the Elite Eight, 60-54. Julia Nagy/The State News



NEW YORK — It’s over.

The streak so well known by seemingly everyone in the country — that every four-year player recruited by Izzo has made it to the Final Four in their time at MSU — is over after a 60-54 loss to UConn on Sunday.

“Thats streak doesn’t mean anything to me, as dumb as it sounds,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes streaks are made to be broken. It wasn’t going to go forever.”

From here on out, the 2013-14 Spartans will be known as the team that lost the momentum and ended the streak.

Even if Izzo isn’t telling the whole truth about how much the streak matters to him, the same couldn’t be said about senior Adreian Payne.

“As the game got closer and closer to ending, it was on my mind a lot, Every huddle,” Payne said. “For us losing, and Keith (Appling) and I and Dan (Chapman). Not to make it is disappointing.”

It started in Izzo’s fourth year at the helm in 1999, when the No. 1 seeded Spartans breezed through the tournament before losing to Duke in the National Semifinals.

Seniors Jason Klein, Thomas Kelley and Antonio Smith started the streak, but came up just short of a title.

The next season was the year of the Spartan, with one of the most well-known and talented MSU teams in history — a squad that included “The Flintstones”: Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Charlie Bell.

MSU went again in 2001, but then saw a four-year hiatus until the 2004-05 campaign, when Alan Anderson, Tim Bograkos and Andy Harvey joined the club.

When Izzo talks about the streak this season, he’s brought up Travis Walton, and it took until his senior year in 2005 to get to the last stage of the Big Dance.

It was another back-to-back Final Four that saw then-freshman Derrick Nix see a Final Four banner raised at the Breslin Center.

“I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on it all year,” Izzo said. “I don’t think they did. We were so discombobulated half the year. We hardly ever talked about it.”

In past seasons, like when Walton was a senior, Izzo said they talked about getting to the Final Four morning, noon and night.

Looking at the year as a whole, it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t been a good one.

Sky-high expectations to the lowest of low, all coupled with the resurgence and determination the last few weeks of the season have turned things around, streak or no streak.

“Sometimes that happens with pressure,” Izzo said. “Sometimes it happens with pressure. I just wanted our team to capture the moment and learn from it, so next year we can be better at what we do.” 


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