Izzo Subdued, Focused at MSU Madness


Photo: Blake Froling/Impact

Blake Froling

 EAST LANSING, Mich. — No motorcycles. No cannons. No race cars. Just a jacket and a ring.

Tom Izzo went subtle tonight at Michigan State Madness, wearing his pumpkin orange Hall of Fame jacket and boulder-sized ring as he made his entrance. But he was quick to take it off and get back to business, donning a green and white jacket and whistle instead.

The tone at the Breslin Center was more subdued than in recent years, maybe because of the football team’s lackluster performance this season, maybe because of the stinging memory of Middle Tennessee State. But Izzo and his team are ready to get back to work and put those memories behind them.

The near-capacity crowd of students, alumni and top recruits got their first look at the star-studded freshman class, highlighted by high-flying Miles Bridges. He received the loudest ovation during player introductions and did not disappoint.

The Flint native dazzled during warmups with rim-rocking dunks that seemed to defy gravity. Sure, we’re totally overreacting because it’s just MSU Madness, but he sure does look like one of the best all-around athletes the Spartans have had in years.

Not to be outdone was redshirt senior guard Eron Harris, who drained a game-high six threes in the 20-minute scrimmage. Senior forward Ben Carter was not in attendance due to a knee injury and senior forward Gavin Schilling did not play in the glorified practice.

Junior guard Tum Tum Nairn sunk the eventual game-winning layup for the green team over freshman Nick Ward with ten seconds remaining. The teams combined for 88 points in 20 minutes; Let’s just say defense was optional.

Another noticeable characteristic of the scrimmage was the lack of size on the floor. At one point, 6-foot-5 Kyle Ahrens was the tallest player on the floor for the green team. With Carter out for an extended period of time, Ward and Schilling will be relied on to man the center position, with Bridges playing basically any other position on the floor.

Spartan fans: Take a breath, step back, and remember this is only one scrimmage. Don’t draw any conclusions from tonight, other than basketball is back and it feels oh so good.

Michigan State’s first exhibition game is Oct. 27 vs. Northwood University. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.