Saturday, December 4, 2021

Cagers kick off Spartan Classic

November 22, 2000
MSU sophomore forward Al Anagonye goes up for a basket during the first game of the Coca-Cola Spartan Classic against Howard at Breslin Student Events Center last season. —

The MSU men’s basketball team will step on the 2000 NCAA Championship court for the first time since it stepped off it last spring, kicking off this weekend’s Spartan Coca-Cola Classic.

After playing on the court at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, MSU bought the court, repainted and refinished it so the team could play on it this season.

“We won a championship on it,” sophomore forward Jason Richardson said. “We have a lot of experience on it. It’s a nice looking court and I like it.”

MSU will take to the new court at 6 p.m. Friday versus Cornell in the first round of the four-team tournament.

Bradley and Eastern Washington will play at 8:20 p.m. in the second game.

The consolation game will be played at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by the championship game at 8:20 p.m.

The tournament will give Spartan fans who don’t have season tickets a chance to see MSU play, since it is not included in the student package because of the holiday weekend.

“It’s exciting that other people get a chance to see us play,” Richardson said. “It’s going to be different out there without the Izzone. But it’s going to be fun to have other people see what we look like.”

Richardson said even though the Izzone gives the team a spark during the game, this weekend is a good opportunity to get used to playing without them.

“They get us going,” Richardson said. “We don’t always have the Izzone, especially road games, so we have to get ourselves going. (We) hope the crowd that is there can help us. It’s going to be great playing without the Izzone’s support (to) get us ready for road games ’cause we have some tough road games.”

But the Spartan Coca-Cola Classic has not always been a good weekend for the Spartans.

MSU lost to Central Michigan 69-62 in the first round in 1995. The Spartans also lost to a Navy team led by David Robinson, 91-90, in 1986.

Senior guard and co-captain Charlie Bell said the team can’t look ahead to the Nov. 29 game against No. 7 North Carolina.

“We can’t go out there and play the opponent. We have to play against ourselves and just play hard for 40 minutes, and we can’t look ahead,” Bell said. “If we do that there is no doubt we can’t go out there and win.”

After recording a triple-double against Oakland on Sunday, Bell said he feels more comfortable playing point guard in early season games compared to last year.

“I think I have a lot more confidence,” Bell said. “I think last year I was a little bit robotic out there, where this year I’m more reading plays and seeing when guys are going to open in certain situations.”

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