EAST LANSING, Mich. — Magic.
That word has always meant a lot to Michigan State University and its fans. And if Friday’s festivities at the Breslin Center are any indication, that word will power the Spartans as they celebrate an anniversary this season.
In front of a hopeful Breslin Center crowd, the Michigan State men’s and women’s basketball programs introduced their 2018-19 squads to the public for the first time at Michigan State Madness Friday night. While the event no longer marks the official start to the season–the teams started practice one week prior–the fan turnout combined with the always-intriguing team entrances made the Breslin Center the place to be Friday night.
Magic was the theme of the night, an ode to the star of the 1978-79 national champion men’s team, Magic Johnson. The team will celebrate the 40th anniversary of that team’s championship throughout the year. The script State jerseys worn by that team will be worn as a throwback alternate throughout the season by the men this season, as they look to repeat as Big Ten champions and move past the first weekend in the NCAA tournament since the 2015 Final Four run.
Wearing sparkling green jackets, the Spartan women made their entrances with their usual solo dances on the Breslin Center stage. Both teams’ music choices dipped into just about every genre imaginable. The women’s choices ranged from Nathy Dambo’s choice of Spice’s “Needle Eye,” to Taryn McCutcheon’s choice of Fergie’s “Fergalicious,” to lone senior Jenna Allen’s choice of “Brick House” by The Commodores. Head coach Suzy Merchant
The men’s team followed with their entrances, walking down the steps from the concourse through the Spartan fans in the lower bowl. Foster Loyer chose the ballad “Tequila” by Dan + Shay, while Conner George opted for Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and channeled his inner Rocky, donning boxing gloves. Nick Ward surprised the crowd by choosing Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles,” while Kenny Goins entered to “Yosemite” by Travis Scott.
Once the team assembled on the court, they tore off their warmups to reveal the script State jerseys worn by the 1979 national champions and short shorts. They even danced to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” released in 1979.
Playing along with the magic theme, head coaches Suzy Merchant and Tom Izzo entered the arena by way of magic tricks from magician Todd. Fans were also treated to video messages from prominent Spartan stars that have gone on to the NBA, such as Denzel Valentine, Miles Bridges and Draymond Green, and a brief message from the Magic Man himself, who was preoccupied with his Los Angeles Dodgers’ playoff game.
Spartans show out in scrimmages
Both teams held scrimmages, which went past midnight. With only nine players able to play, the women defeated their scout team 23-17 in 10 minutes. Taryn McCutcheon and Shay Colley are expected to lead the team as they look to improve on an 18-15 overall record (7-9 Big Ten). Sidney Cooks did not play after being seen in a boot on her right foot during player introductions.
The men played a 20 minute scrimmage, won by the Green team, 36-32. Xavier Tillman led the way, making 6 of his 10 shots. Cassius Winston showed his range with spot-up three’s, hitting 3 of 7 from beyond the arc. Matt McQuaid didn’t play due to a hamstring injury that has kept him idle during the preseason.
The Spartan women play their first exhibition game at home against Hillsdale on Nov. 1, while the men play their only exhibition game at home on Oct. 30 against Izzo’s alma mater, Northern Michigan.