Michigan State Midnight Madness celebrates '40 Years of Magic'
Basketball season is on the horizon in East Lansing.
The perennially theatric Midnight Madness showcased one of its more fitting themes at the Breslin Center Friday night.
The women’s program spearheaded the festivities, as each player appeared in sparkling green jackets upon receiving their introductions.
Making their appearance dressed as magicians, coaches Tom Izzo and Suzy Merchant proceeded to announce the basketball programs' celebration of “40 years of Magic,” acknowledging the 40-year anniversary of the 1979 national title that Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson brought to East Lansing.
After completing its player introductions, the men’s program revealed its newest wardrobe addition. Tearing away their track pants, the Spartans revealed throwback short shorts along with 1979 “State” script jerseys. The team will sport the script as an alternate uniform throughout the season to commemorate the title.
The team also celebrated a title of its own, as each player from the 2017-18 men's squad was presented with their Big Ten regular season Championship rings.
Following the festivities, the annual scrimmage ensued between both the men's and women's teams.
On the men's side, Team Green consisted of starters: Foster Loyer, Xavier Tillman, Gabe Brown, Aaron Henry and Marcus Bingham. And they faced off against team white starters: Nick Ward, Kyle Ahrens, Kenny Goins, Jeremy Langford and Cassius Winston.
Team Green defeated Team White 36-32.
Floor Generals: The pickup-style nature of the scrimmage was naturally dictated by the point guards, as Cassius Winston and Foster Loyer put their talents on display.
Winston channeled his usual poise, calmly hitting multiple pull-up 3-pointers in transition while dishing out multiple assists.
On the other side of the court, Loyer revealed his potential molding into a prototypical Izzo point guard, finishing a contested driving layup and pull-up jumper, showing off his range with a 3-pointer and completing multiple Winston-esque assists in transition.
Frontcourt Play: The epicenter of the frontcourt play resided in the Tillman-Ward matchup; Kyle Ahrens showcased his health.
Tillman appears to have gotten quicker in the offseason. Utilizing his newfound quickness, he converted multiple fast break dunk opportunities, and proved to be effective in guarding Nick Ward on the defensive end. Tillman’s play may be part of a mixed solution to fill the void left at one of the forward spots by Jaren Jackson’s departure.
Ward, meanwhile, was contained for the majority of the scrimmage, and even saw his shot get blocked a couple of times by freshmen Aaron Henry and Marcus Bingham.
Senior Kyle Ahrens showed no signs of last year’s foot injury, sinking a three and revealing quickness while on the floor.
Women’s Backcourt: The women’s squad secured a 23-17 victory against the scout team.
Backcourt talent was on display as junior guard Taryn Mccutcheon drained multiple three-pointers, while showing good floor vision throughout the scrimmage.
The next date circled on the calendar is November 6, as the men's and women's teams open their respective seasons.
Facing Kansas in the Indianapolis Champions Classic, Tom Izzo and the men’s squad will look to avenge their 2017 tournament loss when they face Kansas in the Indianapolis Champions Classic
Suzy Merchant will lead the women in their matchup against Bowling Green in East Lansing.