Saturday, August 8, 2020

Fan rally sends cagers to tourney

March 28, 2001
A fan crowd surfs at Cedar Village after MSU —

Lacquer on the green and white.

Loosen up the vocal cords.

MSU’s Department of Student Life and Athletics Department are hosting a pre-Final Four send-off rally at 5 p.m. today at the Breslin Student Events Center, where students can bid farewell to the men’s basketball team as they depart for Minneapolis, Minn.

In the program’s six years since Tom Izzo took over as head coach, MSU has put together some rather impressive credentials: four consecutive Big Ten titles, three straight trips to the Final Four and one NCAA National Championship - last year’s prize.

This weekend, the Spartan squad competes for its second-straight national title, which, if they win, will make them only the seventh team in NCAA history to accomplish such a task.

And as they prepare for Saturday’s matchup with the Arizona Wildcats, team members say they have the fans to thank for another successful season.

“Our fan support, it literally speaks for itself,” assistant coach Mike Garland said Tuesday during a practice. “Yeah, we’ve got a good team, but without their support, and the way they can lift our team and get us going and give us some energy, I don’t think this program would be where it is or what it is.”

The send-off is open to the public. Last year, before the squad left for the Final Four in Indianapolis, about 1,000 people piled into Jenison Field House to say good-bye to the Spartans.

And this year, MSU’s Department of Student Life and the Athletics Department hope to see equal, if not more, fan support.

“It’s a good opportunity for students to support the team,” said Jarrod Folsom, a co-director of the Izzone, the team’s student fan section. “A lot of people can’t go to Minneapolis, so it’s a great way to get involved and show support for the team.”

The hour-long rally is scheduled to feature appearances by Izzo, team members, Sparty, cheerleaders and members of the MSU band.

Those attending should use entrances at Gate A on the north side of Breslin and Gate B on the south side.

The excitement surrounding another title drive is clearly special to freshman guard Marcus Taylor, who says he’ll enjoy today’s festivities.

“That’s going to be nice,” Taylor said after Tuesday’s practice. “It just shows that the whole university cares about the basketball program.

“The seniors have built something here that can’t be taken away. This is the third-straight time to the Final Four, so it’s something everybody wants to be a part of and it’s great support for us.”

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