March 15, 2007

Winston-Salem, NC

NCAA Tournament Round 1


It was a thrill to see, and it was a true story of what hard work and dedication to principles can do to a team.  Of course the story line of teacher and pupil had been thrown around all week and tonight the teacher told the student:  “not so fast.”


Izzo’s Spartans out hustled, out played and were gently guided along the way by the countries best coach and it was never close.  The Spartans won here convincingly by a 61-49 margin but the score doesn’t tell the story.  The Spartans dominated the Golden Eagles shooting 58% from the floor while Marquette shot 32%.  The Spartans were out rebounded but that was because they had such a high shooting percentage that didn’t allow for them to win the rebounding battle because there simply wasn’t that many available.


MSU had 22 field goals and are you ready for this?  17 assists.  Walton had five points, five assists and four critical steals.  Offensively the Spartans were led by Raymar’s 14 but there was a Cinderella story.  Jake Hannon, the walk on from Wyoming.  Not the Wyoming in West Michigan but the one out West, the state.  He had two points, an assist and a rebound that really stepped up and helped the Spartans when Idong Ibok went down with a gruesome dislocated elbow.  Ibok is gone for the remainder of the season.


 Hannon’s impact was not the stat line I just gave you.  It was his tough defense that frustrated the Golden Eagles and was an example of how this team may be lacking in stars but not in team.  “I just can’t even tell you what this meant to me.  I got this chance and it just proves that Coach Izzo can make anyone into a player if they do it his way and that is how I play.  I am really humbled that I got the chance to even contribute.”  If you can’t love Hannon then you don’t get it.  That kid has some parents that have to be so proud, not for what he does on the court, but for the man he is.


Paul Davis was back in the house cheering on his Spartans and he talked about this team “I am a fan of these guys.  Coming back isn’t an option, it is expected.  I remember when guys would come back and talk about how much it meant.  I use think about how much it meant for us, but I understand tonight.  I am a Spartan and this meant so much for me to be back.”


“This is why you come to State, for this here tonight.  I wanted to be a part and I am,” was the post game reaction MOJO had to me in the locker room.   Sitting in front of Mooch (Steve Mariucci) was hilarious and after the game he told me “I have been to about half of Tom’s tournament games and I can tell you that it is so hard being a fan, but you have to love this.”


Marquette is a very good program and Crean is of course a very good coach.  Tonight however the teacher sent a message to the pupil.  What was it?  Not yet, not yet!