Let me begin by saying that I do not play basketball. I only played the game when I was in gym class and was never particularly good at it. But, College Basketball season has begun and I am PSYCHED! I will cheer for any MSU team, but in order of my enthusiasm, Basketball tops the list, followed by Hockey and Football. Unfortunately, Hockey is not covered as much as it should be and our team is not doing as well as they were back when I was in school and Ryan Miller was between the pipes. Football, well, if you're a Spartan Football fan, you have to be ready for a rocky road when the end of August comes each year. It is not an easy few months, but we stick it out and support the team through it all. I have faith that the program is on the right track, but its still going to be a tough one. (Like the game I'm watching right now)
Basketball is a different story. Coach Izzo is a local (as in the state of Michigan) hero and I suppose, a national sports celebrity. He has built a program that is steeped in tradition, hard work, strength (mental and physical), brute force, and championships. His enthusiasm and dedication to not only the game, but also the school and the players, is incredible and awe inspiring. I think that has a lot to do with the way the team pulls through and succeeds more often than not. Many will probably agree with me when I say that one of his trademarks is that by mid-December, early January, he has very little voice left and I hope reserves it mostly for practices, games, ESPN interviews and hanging out with his family. The faces on the team have changed but the mentality and spirit seems to stay the same.
I was lucky enough to start my college career the same year MSU won the National Championship! It was simply incredible. The excitement and pride that exuded from every inch of the East Lansing area. It was 9 years ago, but sometimes seems like just yesterday.
Last night, the Spartans won their opener 97-58 against Florida Gulf Coast. Yes, they should have won by this much, if not more, but they face a much tougher opponent this Tuesday for their second game - Gonzaga. Izzo does not like easy schedules.
I think the easiest way to tell you how AWESOME the Spartans are with a few select bullet points (there are way too many to list them all):
- Every four year player recruited by Tom Izzo has played in at least 1 Final Four
- MSU has appeared in 12 straight NCAA tournaments - the longest current running streak in the Big Ten and 4th in the nation
- In the 2009 National Championship game, MSU faced their third no. 1 seed opponent of the tournament
- The team graduates 87% of players who are eligible
- Izzo has been named National Coach of the year four times
- This is Izzo's 26th year as a member of the MSU coaching staff (having been an assistant coach before taking over as Head Coach)
- The Izzone has more than 3000 members
- Between 1998 and 2002, MSU won 53 straight games in Breslin Center, setting a Big 10 record
- MSU has the BEST mascot of all cheering for them from the sideline of all games, Sparty!
These are just a few of the reasons why it is great to be a Spartan (especially during Basketball season)!