Dwayne Stephens and Dane Fife honored amongst best assistant coaches in Big Ten


Photo: Ryan Cole/Impact

Nathan Stearns, Sports Editorial Assistant

EAST LANSING – It isn’t just Tom Izzo that has helped lift Michigan State to the pinnacle of success and prestige over the past several seasons.

In a recent poll conducted by Jeff Goodman, Spartan associate head coaches Dwayne Stephens and Dane Fife were named as the best and third-best assistant coaches in the Big Ten by their coaching peers. Goodman polled 20 Big Ten coaches — most of whom were assistants — and asked them who they viewed as the best assistants in the conference. 

Stephens, who has been on staff since 2004, was praised for his recruiting results and his ability to connect with his players by an unnamed Big Ten assistant coach.  Over the years, Stephens has been the chief architect of countless skilled frontcourt players including Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson, Branden Dawson, Deyonta Davis, Draymond Green and Adreian Payne. 

Fife, on the other hand, is a bit newer to the MSU staff. The former Purdue University Fort Wayne head coach was hired by Izzo in 2011. Fife oversees the Spartan perimeter players and helps to oversee and form defensive game plans against opponents. One anonymous assistant coach was quoted as saying that “his (Fife’s) defensive mindset is clearly implemented in the toughness that has been a staple under (Tom) Izzo at Michigan State.”

Ohio State assistant Ryan Pedon, Indiana assistant Tom Ostrom and Orlando “Bino” Ranson were also honored as being among the five best assistants in the conference. 

Follow Nathan Stearns on Twitter @NathanStearns11.