In winning their first Big Ten Tournament title since 2000, the Michigan State Spartans did it with depth and role players, kind of like the 2000 National Championship team. Granted this team today doesn’t have four future NBA players (the ’00 team had Jason Richardson, Mateen Cleaves, Andre Hutson and Morris Peterson) so you can only go so far with this analogy…of course Draymond Green looks like a late first rounder, Branden Dawson looked like a 2014 prospect before the ACL injury, and Keith Appling could develop into a pro guy be his senior year.
But the 2000 and 2012 Spartans share both a BTT title and similarly good “glue guys” and role players.
Here’s my nerdy and somewhat softball question to Izzo about the two teams.
Q. Coach, you’ve had some role players step up and play some key roles during this tournament. Does that kind of remind you of the 2000 team when your guys like (Mike) Chappell and (A.J.) Granger had big times at key moments?
I should have thrown in Richardson as well, because he struggled his freshman year, wasn’t a main contributor, but had one big game in the tourney.
COACH IZZO: It does. But those four or five pros we had on that team, they’re absent right now. So the step-up guys might be doing a pretty
good job, but it was the original guys that are a lot different.
But you are right. Hey, Kearney came in and did a pretty good job defensively today. And Nix is — he’s a sixth man of the year candidate, or was, because he’s done some pretty good things for us. And Trice, who played pretty well yesterday, just didn’t get as many reps because oftheir bigger lineup. It was a real problem. They post their guards a lot, and that’s what we missed in Branden Dawson.
But we are getting some more play out of more guys. Hey, Russell Byrd, those were four, five good minutes that he played today for us. So
we’re starting to get a little comfortable with more and more guys.
The Spartans enter the tournament with the #4 RPI and the #1 strength of schedule this year, not to mention the momentum of winning the Big Ten Tournament, so they’ll be tourney tested and tourney ready.
“a lot of people always say Coach Izzo takes off the Big Ten Tournament to get ready for the NCAA Tournament. That’s such a myth,” Draymond Green said.
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