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On this week's episode of the State News Sports Roundtable, sports general assignment reporter Eli McKown sits down with hockey beat reporter Brendan Gumbel to discuss the tragic passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, and why it's time you start to pay attention to Michigan State hockey.
No. 14 Michigan State men's will look to sweep Northwestern (6-13 overall, 1-8 Big Ten) when the Wildcats travel to the Breslin Center on Wednesday (BTN, 6:30 EST).
“Family.” That’s how the Michigan State men’s basketball teams breaks out of its huddle. And after the death of former NBA player Kobe Bryant on Jan. 26, that chant meant a little bit more. “One of the things that people lose sight of is that (Bryant) was a tremendous basketball player and he taught everybody how to work hard and how to compete at a high level, but he was a family man after that,” sophomore forward Aaron Henry said. “That’s what inspired me the most from him."Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California shortly after 9 a.m. on Sunday. The NBA Champion’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also killed in the crash, among seven others. Bryant had three other daughters and a wife, Vanessa, who were not involved in the accident.As a father himself, junior forward Xavier Tillman said the news struck closer to home for his wife Tamia because she saw a similarity between Tillman and Bryant and their value for family.“When I got home, (Tamia) was talking about how he is such a family man and I am myself,” Tillman said.Bryant, a Philadelphia native, was drafted straight out of high school and went on to spend 20 seasons as a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a five-time NBA champion (2000-2002, 2009, 2010) and had 18 NBA All-Star appearances before retiring in 2016.“It speaks so much about a man when you don’t know him … and yet the idolization, the respect, it was like, oh my God,” Izzo said in a press conference after MSU’s Jan. 26 win over Minnesota, according to the Detroit Free Press. “That win meant nothing three minutes into it. I was amazed just watching different players that I didn’t think would really look at things that way. It kind of tells you how fragile life is.”As a decorated basketball icon, athletes around the country, including former and current Spartan players, found themselves at a loss for words in reaction to his death. When Izzo told senior guard Cassius Winston after the Minnesota game, Winston’s mouth fell, his face froze. "Kobe?” Winston was caught by Fox cameras asking. After Izzo nodded, Winston clarified. “Bryant?" he asked, wide-eyed. Izzo nodded again. "Wow," Winston said. “Just unreal,” Winston said, thinking back to the moment. “Some people, you never think that anything bad can happen to them and that’s one of those guys. He was a great guy, great for the basketball world ... so to hear that tragic news, it was really sad.”Tillman, who admitted being a long-time LeBron James fan, acknowledged the growing appreciation he gained for Bryant’s game, specifically for his scoring abilities, as Tillman learned to be a better player himself.“As I got older, and I wanted to learn the intricacies of being a scorer and really knowing the details of being a scorer, I really locked in on Kobe,” Tillman said. “I noticed that he was really one of the best scorers you’ve ever seen and a great champion and a great person.”Winston said it was Bryant’s mentality, the one that carried him through life beyond the court, that inspired him the most. “Just the fact that he was going to be the best ... no matter what it is, who was out there, what he was doing,” Winston said. “That’s a mentality that a lot of people can learn from.”As the country mourns, whether it be with candlelit ceremonies or the painting of a rock, Henry left off with a reminder that Bryant’s death brought forward to the country — players are more than just the game.“Just showing me what kind of a man he was before a basketball player,” Henry said of Bryant. “People lose sight of that, and it’s sad that death has to happen to draw people closer to that and realize what life really is about.
Two separate seasons. Two program wins.
Recall Feb. 7, 2015, an occasion on which a Michigan State men's basketball team flirting with the bubble and playing on its home floor recorded its eighth loss to NIT-bound Illinois.
Jim Morrison, the troubled frontman of The Doors, was the author of probably my favorite poem, "The Severed Garden." Morrison, who surely knew his final hours were approaching — owing to his hedonistic lifestyle — wrote that “death makes angels of us all, and gives us wings where we had shoulders smooth as raven’s claws.”
Following games that were just one month apart, players from the Michigan State women’s basketball team entered the media room.
Current and former Michigan State students reacted to the death of Kobe Bryant with emotion and respect for his legacy.
Michigan State women’s basketball (11-9, 4-5) let the lead slip in the fourth, turning a nail-biter into a 17-point loss against No. 19 Iowa (17-3, 8-1), 74-57.
Michigan State men’s basketball ended their weekend road-trip with a much needed 70-52 win at Minnesota (11-9 overall, 5-5 in Big Ten) Sunday afternoon.
Coming hot off their win against the Ohio State Buckeyes Jan. 18, the Michigan State gymnastics team (1-2-0) hosted the No. 16 Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-1-0) in their second Big Ten meet of the 2020 season at Jenison Field House Sunday afternoon.
In front of the largest crowd at Munn Ice Arena since March 13, 2015, No. 19 Michigan State (13-12-1) was unable to sweep No. 9 Penn State (17-8-1) on Saturday night, falling to the Nittany Lions 2-1 in overtime.
No. 11 Michigan State men’s basketball (14-5, 6-2 Big Ten) will continue its road stint at 3 p.m. Sunday in Minnesota coming off their 67-63 loss to Indiana.
“Uber Eats is here, it is time to feast!”
Michigan State wrestling (6-5) raced out to an early 13-0 lead and broke the Clarion Golden Eagles’ (8-4) eight-meet win streak with a 25-15 victory Friday night at Jenison Fieldhouse.
On the back of senior Patrick Khodorenko’s career night, Michigan State hockey was able to secure a monumental win at Munn Ice Arena, winning 4-2 versus the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Coach Tom Izzo stood firm in his prediction: a five-win team can win the Big Ten league. This forecast became ever more likely Thursday night. No. 11 Michigan State men's basketball (14-5, 6-2 Big Ten), despite multiple double-digit scoring runs late, barely got a taste of the lead in the dwindling minutes before Indiana resumed control the contest, 67-63.
The Michigan State Spartans swim and dive teams (6-5-1) hosted the Cleveland State men and women Vikings in their last home meet of the 2020 season at McCaffree Pool on Friday evening, and won in a landslide victory — the women outpaced Cleveland State 216-78 while the men pulled away 163.5-135.5.
Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon struggled against Northwestern. In Michigan State women's basketball's near 30-point loss, she turned the ball over five times and went 0-3 from the field.
It was one of those nights where there was a lid on the bucket for Michigan State women’s basketball. The Spartans (11-8, 4-4) fell to No. 22 Northwestern (17-2, 7-1), 76-48.