Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Manager ready for first tourney

March 14, 2002
Manager Jon Borovich takes notes during a time out at the MSU vs. Iowa basketball game at Breslin Center. Borovich hopes to learn under MSU head coach Tom Izzo and become a head coach himself. —

Friday’s first round NCAA Tournament matchup with North Carolina State will be a first for several Spartans.

The inexperienced freshmen trio of Alan Anderson, Chris Hill and Kelvin Torbert have raised questions about whether the youthful MSU men’s basketball team can handle the added pressures of March Madness. But first-year manager Jon Borovich also will be making his first trip to the NCAA Tournament, and he brings four years of college basketball playing experience with him.

As a starting guard for Central Michigan, Borovich has experience at the Division I level. While his Chippewa teams never made the NCAA Tournament, Borovich has proven to be a valuable member of the Spartans.

“He’s getting these guys ready,” MSU assistant coach Mark Montgomery said. “That’s his job and he’s going to sit back like the rest of us Friday, and hopefully Sunday, and watch the hard work he has put in.”

That hard work has gone beyond the typical roles of a manager for Borovich. With injuries and a lack of scholarship players, Borovich has suited up for the Spartan’s scout team during practices.

“It has been great getting out here and competing with these guys,” Borovich said. “It has been difficult trying to win these guys over and show them that the Chippewas up north can play a little ball.

“These are some of the top athletes I’d ever had a chance to play against.”

Growing up in Bloomfield, basketball had always been a love of Borovich’s. And it was at Birmingham Seaholm High that he made his first MSU connection.

As a member of the Seaholm men’s basketball team, Borovich was teammates with senior guard Mat Ishbia.

The two maintain a friendship and both aspire to one day become coaches themselves. Borovich is working toward a master’s degree in athletic administration.

“I told him I’d probably hire him,” Ishbia joked. “He’ll be my assistant coach, I’ll start him at the ground level. I’d have to institute most of the things because he went to Central and they don’t have it down like us.”

While Borovich insists the situation will be reversed, Montgomery has a solution.

“Both those guys could go back to Seaholm and they could be co-head coaches,” Montgomery said. “They’ll probably be coaches and with the luck of this business we’ll just have to see who gets a head coaching job first.”

Regardless of who makes it first, both are enjoying learning the business from MSU head coach Tom Izzo.

“Coach Izzo is unbelievable,” Ishbia said. “Once I think I know what he’s going to do he impresses me again.”

During games Borovich is too busy to pick Izzo’s brain as he studies the opponent to help associate head coach Brian Gregory with play calling. But he does take notes during timeouts.

“I’m writing down what coach Izzo is telling players in the huddle, so hopefully I can implement that into my coaching philosophy,” Borovich said. “My responsibility to myself is to learn from the coaching staff.”

Montgomery doesn’t doubt Borovich’s desire to become a coach. But as an assistant for Central last season, he knows Borovich longs to play in the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s exciting, we talked about it last night while we were watching some tape, being a part of it,” Montgomery said. “It’s probably tough because he’s probably always dreamed about playing in the tournament.”

When MSU takes the court at 12:15 p.m. on Friday at MCI Center in Washington, D.C., Borovich will be ready to assist the Spartans in any way he can. But he said there’s no question, he’d love to take the court.

“I’d much rather be in a uniform than in a coat and tie on the sidelines, there’s no question about that,” Borovich said. “But being able to be out here and practicing with Mat again is something I’m truly fortunate to be a part of.

“I guess if I have to cheer them on, its the next best thing.”

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