By Josh Mansour
Last updated: 01/25/13 1:11am
Two days after photos of the MSU men’s basketball team’s new alternate jerseys were leaked online, the Spartans got a chance to sound off on their new threads Thursday.
“Those cold,” senior center Derrick Nix said of the jerseys. “I feel like I’m about to play football. They look like football jerseys.”
The No. 13 Spartans (17-3 overall, 6-1 Big Ten) will wear the jerseys Sunday (1:00 p.m., CBS) when they travel to Bloomington, Ind. to square off against No. 7 Indiana (16-3, 5-1).
The uniform features special jerseys, shorts, and shoes, among other accessories, and sophomore guard/forward Branden Dawson said he expects to get a number of calls about the gear after the game.
“Jersey’s are nice, shoes are nice,” Dawson said. “After the game, I know a lot of family and friends are going to be asking for them.”
And if things go well, Nix said he hopes this won’t be the jerseys’ final appearance.
“I wish we could play in them against Michigan. I think that would be sweet,” Nix said.
“If we win (against Indiana), we’ll play in them against Michigan. I’ll make sure of that. If we lose, we’re probably just gonna throw them out.”
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 01/22/13 6:57pm
After announcing the possibility of Nike Pro Combat uniforms for the men’s basketball program this fall, photos of the alleged alternate jerseys began circulating around the Internet today.
The Detroit Free Press’ Joe Rexrode reports the jerseys will be worn on Sunday’s game against Indiana and confirmed the authenticity of the photos with MSU equipment manager Dave Pruder.
The jersey features a green base with a bronze Spartan helmet logo and bronze lettering — an overall design similar to the Pro Combat football jerseys MSU wore last season against Michigan. Ohio State appears to be the only other Big Ten school to have the special jerseys, which primarily features an enlarged main logo on the chest.
North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Villanova, Southern California and Texas are some of the other schools chosen to wear the Pro Combat uniforms.
By Josh Mansour
Last updated: 01/14/13 6:10am
When Branden Dawson takes flight, he reaches a rarified air only few can meet.
But for one scary moment Sunday night, it appeared as if Dawson’s soaring days might be numbered.
After falling to the ground, clutching his knee and letting out a guttural scream while being fouled on a fast break layup attempt, Dawson glumly left the court, leaving some wondering if he’d destroyed the same anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, he had spent months rehabilitating.
The answer came quickly.
In a matter of minutes Dawson sprinted out of the locker room to the Spartans bench and checked back into the game.
His return combined with explosive performances from centers Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix to spark the Spartans, lifting the No. 22 MSU men’s basketball team (14-3 overall, 3-1 Big Ten) to a 66-56 victory over Nebraska (9-8, 0-4) Sunday night at Breslin Center.
Nix led the way with 17 points and five rebounds, while Dawson tallied 12 points and six rebounds and Payne added 14 points off the bench.
An 11-2 run from Nebraska helped the Cornhuskers take the lead, 23-19, with 7:58 to go in the first half, a lead they would maintain for most of the rest of the period, until a pair of Nix free throws evened the score at 32 going into halftime.
The game remained close throughout, as neither team was able to secure a lead of more than five points for the first 13 minutes of the second half.
With the game in doubt, MSU turned to its lone senior, and Nix carried the Spartans home, scoring 11 second half points to push MSU in front for good.
Tied at 50 with 6:50 remaining, MSU closed the game on a 16-6 run, capped off by a emphatic two-handed alley-oop dunk by Dawson.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 01/09/13 6:46pm
According to multiple reports, junior Keith Appling is expected to be recognized as one of the premier point guards in the country Wednesday by being named one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guard.
Kevin Foley, a spokesperson for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, said in an email a formal announcement is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday. He did not confirm any finalists.
The Detroit Pershing High product has started all 15 games for No. 22 MSU (12-3 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) averaging 14.3 points per game and 4.4 assists, both of which are team-highs. He carries a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Appling leads the Spartans in minutes played and is tied for fifth in the Big Ten in assists per game.
Michigan’s Trey Burke, Minnesota’s Andre Hollins and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft also made the cut for the award, according to reports.
The 20 finalists will be cut to 10 around Feb. 1, and then down to five near March 1. The winner will be announced during the Final Four in Atlanta.
Former Illinois guard Dee Brown, the winner in the 2005-06 season, remains the only Big Ten player to take home the award since its inception in 2003. North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall won the award last season.
By Josh Mansour
Last updated: 01/09/13 2:56pm
It takes a lot for the face of the Flintstones and the Big Ten’s all-time assists leader to give credit to the rivals from Ann Arbor, but Wednesday, Matteen Cleaves did just that.
The former Spartan legend, who currently works as a college basketball analyst for the CBS Sports Network, among four current broadcasting jobs, told the Detroit Free Press that the undefeated and No. 2-ranked Wolverines are his team to beat for the national championship.
“It’s hard not to pick Michigan right now, with what they’re doing,” Cleaves told the Free Press. “For me to say Michigan, you know it’s got to be real, because I’m a Michigan State guy through and through. But you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.”
Cleaves said MSU has the potential to reach that level before the NCAA Tournament, and Indiana also is in the mix.
Cleaves has returned to MSU multiple times throughout this season, including visits to offer advice to current members of the Spartans basketball team as well as, most notably, returning for the alumni game at Jenison Field House before the “Game of Change” the following day.
Still, it’s the Maize and Blue, led by sophomore guard Trey Burke that leave Cleaves most impressed.
“Michigan is a great team. Fun to watch, very well-coached and led by Trey Burke,” Cleaves said. “He makes it easy for those guys. They have four guys who can get shots any time they want to. (Junior guard Tim) Hardaway can get a shot any time he wants, (and freshman guard Nik) Stauskas has been a big surprise to everybody.”
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 01/08/13 7:57pm
Following a nearly five year tenure as the head coach with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, former MSU guard Scott Skiles and the team have agreed to part ways. Skiles will be replaced on an interim basis by veteran assistant coach Jim Boylan.
The move comes after Skiles opened the season with a 16-16 record, which puts him at 162-182 in close to five seasons in Milwaukee with a single playoff appearance to his credit. It’s a similar scenario to when Boylan replaced Skiles after he was fired by the Chicago Bulls following a 9-26 start in 2007.
Bucks general manager John Hammond told the Associated Press that the team did not part with Skiles on bad terms.
“Scott and I did not have a frosty relationship. Scott did not hate this team,” Hammond told the Associated Press. “We’re not a team in dire straits … we’re expecting good things to happen.”
Since securing his first head coaching job with the Phoenix Suns before the 1999-00 season, Skiles has accumulated a 443-433 career head coaching record (.506) after a 10 season playing career.
Skiles made his name at MSU as one of the top players in college basketball for being a prolific scorer and efficient passer. During his senior season, Skiles earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors after averaging 27.4 points and 6.5 assists per game.
Boylan, not to be confused with the more recent MSU assistant coach Jim Boylen, also has ties to the Spartan basketball program, having been an assistant coach from 1986-89 under head coach Jud Heathcote.
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 01/05/13 6:55pm
Branden Dawson made some important shots in his double-double performance against Purdue on Saturday at Breslin Center. But it was another shot he took that’s making headlines.
Following a play in the second half of the No. 18 Spartans’ 84-61 victory, the sophomore guard Dawson appeared to throw a punch at Purdue forward Travis Carroll. The questionable jab took place following a 3-pointer by freshman guard Gary Harris in the second half.
The debate remains whether Dawson pounded his chest in frustration or actually made contact with Carroll on the play and the video provided by Big Ten Network is inconclusive, though it appears Dawson might have made contact.
ESPN’s Andy Katz reported on Twitter that MSU has reviewed the video and didn’t see cause for alarm. CBS’ Seth Davis tweeted he assumed the swipe by Dawson will “cost him a game” suspension but also reported MSU new media director Matt Larson is aware of the play and didn’t expect a suspension.
Big Ten Network host Rick Pizzo reported the conference is aware of the play and no action has been taken.
By Josh Mansour
Last updated: 12/22/12 3:07pm
As Derrick Nix’s hook shot floated through the net on the Spartans’ opening possession, the MSU big man let out a yell.
After a Gary Harris fast break layup, Nix stood under the Spartans’ basket, jumping up and down with arms extended, asking for even more noise from an already raucous Izzone made up of alumni.
And when he checked out of the game for the first time, he made sure to hug or high five every player that checked in, urging his teammates to maintain the energy that helped them jump out in front.
The senior center was the driving force behind the No. 20 MSU men’s basketball team (10-2) in the first half, keeping the Spartans in the game against Texas (7-4), which led 33-28 at halftime.
MSU opened the game on an electric 12-2 run that brought the enthusiastic crowd to its feet.
But the Longhorns responded to MSU’s opening surge with a 10-1 run to recapture the lead, 14-13, a lead they would maintain for most of the rest of the first half.
Yet once again it was Nix serving as a stabilizer for the Spartans, scoring five consecutive points to keep MSU within one point, 18-17 with 8:32 to go in the first half.
After talking this week about finally understanding what it means to truly play hard, the senior center left everything he had on the court in the first half, scoring 14 points with nine rebounds and three steals, at one point grabbing his shorts from exhaustion.
Texas finished the half with a 8-4 run to secure a halftime lead behind 15 first half free throw attempts.
By comparison, the Spartans only shot seven free throws in the first half, drawing the ire of the near capacity crowd.
By Josh Mansour
Last updated: 12/18/12 6:16pm
Just because the NCAA won’t allow Tom Izzo to comment about specific recruits, such as the highly-sought after Jabari Parker, it doesn’t mean the MSU men’s basketball coach isn’t allowed to think about them.
The Spartans currently have no players committed for the 2013 recruiting class, and will wait anxiously to hear Parker, a consensus top-3 recruit in the country from Chicago Simeon High, announce his decision Thursday.
“If anybody can read our recruiting situation, call me,” Izzo joked after Monday’s practice.
Parker’s announcement is scheduled for 4 p.m. at his high school and will be televised by ESPNU.
The 6-foot-8 forward has narrowed his choices down to MSU, Duke, BYU, Florida and Stanford, with many recruiting experts believing Parker has narrowed his choice to Duke and MSU. This belief was aided by his father, Sonny Parker, who agreed with the sentiment in an interview with USA Today, but Jabari Parker later told the Chicago Tribune that all five schools are still being considered.
If Parker doesn’t sign with MSU, the Spartans might not add any players to the 2013 recruiting class. It’s part of the reason Izzo admitted this will be a critical week.
But no matter the outcome, he said he’s satisfied with the approach he and his staff have taken.
“It’s a big week,” Izzo said. “But in recruiting, sometimes, you have regrets either way. I have no regrets in what we’ve done in recruiting this year. We’ve decided to do it a certain way and we’ve done it that way. … So I actually feel great about everything.”
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 12/12/12 11:25pm
With Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson missing time due to injuries, Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has had to look down the bench this season to answer the call. On Wednesday, it was Draymond Green’s turn.
The former Spartan Green hit a layup with 0.9 seconds remaining in the game to give the Warriors a 97-95 road victory over the Miami Heat. Green finished the game with seven points, seven rebounds, two steals and two assists, but no moment larger than an open layup under the basket to give his team the victory.
Green is averaging 2.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Warriors in a little more than 13 minutes a game. Much of Green’s opportunity for playing time has come since Rush went down with an anterior cruciate ligament tear in November.
The challenge for Green was made even more daunting on Wednesday, as he spent much of the evening guarding reigning NBA most valuable player LeBron James.
Although the two sparred back and forth on the court all game, James reportedly went out of his way to find Green for a handshake after the rookie drained a big shot to give the Warriors the victory.
“You knew that whoever got him was going to get a good player; he knows how to play the game,” James told the media after the game.
During his career at MSU, Green was named the 2012 NABC National Player of the Year and a consensus First-Team All-American. Green is MSU’s career rebounding leader (1,096) and is one of only a handful of Spartans to eclipse the 1,000 career points mark.