College Basketball Nation: Delvon Roe

On this season of "Mad Men," Megan Draper decides to leave the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices to pursue her dream of acting despite her clear ease in the profession. Discussing the decision, Peggy, a former secretary whose success in the office was hard won, says to Joan: "I think she's good at everything. I think she's just one of those girls."

Roe
Roe
It would appear Delvon Roe is just one of those guys. The former Michigan State forward was a future NBA star coming out of high school. After seemingly constant knee injuries, and three difficult, but productive years at Michigan State, Roe's legs finally betrayed him, and he decided to step away from the Spartans in his senior season to focus more on his other love, acting.

Lo and behold, just a year into his acting career -- after performances in Michigan State theater productions -- Roe is already having at least some small measure of success. As MLive's Diamond Leung reports, Roe's feature-film debut, "Love and Honor," will premiere Wednesday at the Cannes Film Market.
Roe spent last summer on location in Ann Arbor filming scenes from the movie, which was formerly entitled "AWOL." Liam Hemsworth ("The Hunger Games") stars in the Vietnam War-era film about a soldier who secretly returns home from war to win back his girlfriend. The 6-foot-8 Roe plays the role of Isaac. Lightning Entertainment announced last week it had acquired the international sales rights to "Love and Honor" and would introduce it to buyers in Cannes.

Roe has said he plans to turn to coaching if acting doesn't work out, but if this keeps up, it might never be an issue. This is already an auspicious start to his second career. How great would it be if Roe, whose NBA future seemed like a certainty before his first knee injuries derailed the sheer natural talent he displayed in high school, made it big in acting instead?

Most of us are lucky enough to be good at one thing. Roe, apparently, is not like most of us.
And yes, there is already a protest hashtag. Of course there is.

You remember Michigan State forward Delvon Roe, the once-brilliant but injury-plagued Spartans forward who battled through numerous injuries for coach Tom Izzo in the past three seasons. This summer, after another injury and lingering degenerative knee pain, Roe decided his basketball days were just about over. He had discovered a new muse -- acting -- starring in school productions and working in hopes of a professional career.

[+] EnlargeRoe
Matthew O'Haren/Icon SMIDelvon Roe won't be allowed to suit up for Michigan State on Senior Night as coach Tom Izzo hoped.
This decision was announced in one of the saddest press releases of all time. Izzo's emotions seeped off the page. But Roe's story was also redemptive: Here was a kid for whom basketball had once been everything, who lost that dream, but discovered another in the process. There's something very neat about that.

This would have been Roe's senior season at Michigan State. Roe has attended home games and practices here and there, but Izzo had something very special in mind for Michigan State's Senior Night -- one final farewell, one thank you for Roe's three years of oft-selfless service. One last time, Izzo wanted Roe to lace up the kicks and suit up with the team, to maybe even play a few last minutes as a Michigan State Spartan.

Cool idea, right? Just one problem: The NCAA won't allow it.

So reports our friend and all-time blog brother from another mother, MLive.com's Diamond Leung:
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Friday he wanted retired forward Delvon Roe to play against Ohio State in a nostalgic return to the court on Senior Day, but the school has determined that NCAA eligibility rules will not allow for Roe to dress for the game. [...] Roe has begun a professional acting career that appears to restrict him from playing because of amateurism rules, Izzo indicated. Ineligible players also cannot suit up for games.

"I think he deserved it," Izzo said of the idea that Roe would play March 4. "I’m sure I would have done it because I appreciate the kid, but we can’t do it."

The school still is expected to honor Roe on Senior Day, and Izzo said it would contact the NCAA next week to see what would be permissible.

Naturally, this has led to all manner of outcry from Michigan State fans, who started a hashtag -- #LetDelvonPlay -- and are currently bombarding the Twitters with all manner of NCAA-directed appeals even as we speak. Unfortunately, it would appear that the NCAA rule here is pretty cut and dry. Roe's professional acting career inherently ended his amateur athletic status, and that's pretty much that. If it didn't, players could act in commercials and receive money for their work while still in school, and god forbid the NCAA allow something so sinister as that. (We've all seen how athlete endorsements have ruined the Olympics. Does anyone even watch those things anymore? Oh. Right.)

Then again, the NCAA has allowed certain exceptions to eligibility and recruiting rules in the past. Circumstances are usually extreme, and Roe's situation might not quite meet that threshold. But it is, at the end of the day, merely a one-time gesture. The #LetDelvonPlay rabble might just have a point.

Delvon Roe to star in college basketball film

September, 30, 2011
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One day after Delvon Roe called it a career at Michigan State due to knee pain, it became apparent that the 6-foot-8 former forward might very well be able to find success in another field -- acting.

Roe has been cast alongside actor Beau Mirchoff for roles in "Gametime," an upcoming feature film that depicts two high school teammates who become college basketball stars, according to the Michigan Film Office.

From IMDB:
"Gametime" explores the dark side of major college basketball; a world of big money, ego and hypocrisy, revealed through the innocent eyes of the two top recruits in the country, best friends Malik and John. We follow them through a recruiting process full of sex, booze, and money, onto their respective college teams lead by narcissistic coaches, meet their passionate, troubled, and hilarious teammates, and watch them fight their way to the pinnacle of the college game... the Final Four, a multi-billion dollar feeding frenzy for the agents, the media, the NCAA... everyone associated with the game except the players. On the eve of the final game, Malik and John hatch a plan to even the score.

For Roe, the role fits him perfectly. Not only does he have the life experience of being a basketball star and played in two teams that reached the Final Four, but he also has acting experience from his role in another upcoming movie, "AWOL," that filmed this summer in Ann Arbor.

"Gametime" is also expected to feature cameos from former college and professional players and coaches from Michigan universities, according to the release. So might Tom Izzo get to play a part alongside his former player?

In any case, it is ironic Roe would get this role. He was a top recruit coming out of high school who was hampered by injuries, yet earned praise for taking advantage of the entire student-athlete experience and using his scholarship to expand his horizons and get into acting. Now he'll work to depict the seedy side of college basketball.

Given his injury history, Roe might cringe when he hears this but ... break a leg.

Delvon Roe's career reaches sad end

September, 29, 2011
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On Thursday afternoon, Michigan State issued one of the sadder press releases these eyes have ever seen: Spartans senior forward Delvon Roe announced his decision to retire from basketball, citing degenerative knee pain.

Roe, it should be noted, is 21 years old. (He'll be 22 on Oct. 3.) Needless to say, players don't retire at the age of 22 very often. Of course, most don't deal with the kinds of recurring physical problems Roe has suffered since missing his senior high school season to a knee injury. Before that injury, Roe was a highly touted prospect, the centerpiece of Tom Izzo's 2008 class. Since then, he's been a reduced but still effective player, one that constantly reinvented his game and battled through his injuries to contribute as much as he could despite his maladies.

Now, unfortunately, he's calling it quits. He will remain on scholarship and is on track to graduate next spring, but he won't be playing basketball anymore. According to Roe, the pain was just too much.
“This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make," Roe said in a statement. "It feels that I’ve been playing through pain throughout my career at MSU, but the daily grind of basketball – the running, cutting, jumping – has finally taken its toll given the intensity required to play at our level. I started playing basketball because I loved the game, but the pain has taken that away and forced me to always think about just getting through the next few minutes or the next game. I don’t want to just ‘get through’ anymore. I’ve played on a leg and a half for most of my career, and that’s not fair to my teammates as they go through the daily grind.

“I have no regrets about my time at Michigan State. I’ve been blessed to be a three-year starter and be a part of back-to-back Big Ten Championships and Final Fours. I’m lucky to have been surrounded by great teammates that have become my brothers, and coaches that have provided great guidance. The medical and training staff have been phenomenal just to give me the opportunities that I’ve had. But as one of our doctors told me, the wear on my knee is like tread on a tire, and that once it’s gone, it doesn’t come back. It became time to consider my health moving forward.

Like I said: Press releases don't get much sadder than that. Just a few years ago, Roe was a bouncy high school star with a full and promising basketball career ahead of him. He had NBA talent. How tough is that?

Not as tough as Roe. Check the kid's game logs: For three years, despite the kind of knee pain that makes you want to quit playing basketball just so you don't hurt anymore, Roe never missed a game. He battled his knees as hard as he could, but the knees won in the end.
“We’ve built our program at Michigan State on toughness, and I’ve never had a player who played through more pain than Delvon," Izzo said in a statement. "I feel bad for Delvon, because I know how much basketball means to him. It’s a shame that most Spartans never got to see the player I recruited. And yet he found a way to contribute and be a valuable part of two Final Fours and Big Ten Championships just by his will and desire. Last year, he unselfishly reinvented himself into a defensive stopper that the team needed. For him to call it a career at this time shows the severity of his pain. I look forward to having him remain around the program this year as he finishes his degree.”

There's no getting around it; this is a sad end to a once-promising career. The silver lining is that Roe is on pace to graduate from Michigan State with his degree in 2012. Better yet, Roe -- by all accounts a great kid with a wide range of interests outside hoops -- may now have the time to focus fully on his acting, which he discovered a passion in 2010 after he scored a role in an MSU theater production of William Shakespeare's comedy "As You Like It." Besides, who knows what more basketball may have done to his knees? Leaving now makes Roe much less likely to spend his later life limping every time he has to walk up a flight of stairs.

It had to be a brutal decision, but it's impossible to argue with Roe's choice. I have a feeling Spartans fans would agree.
“I will always be a Spartan," Roe said in a statement. "The support of everyone in the University and the fan base has left an impression that will last a lifetime. It remains my goal to walk across the court on senior night."

MSU's Delvon Roe lands a movie role

July, 26, 2011
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Michigan State forward Delvon Roe has had a career plagued with knee injuries, and it was just last month that he severely sprained an ankle that has kept him out of workouts. The health and effectiveness of the 6-foot-8 senior will be a big factor in the Spartans trying to rebound off an uneven season that disappointed many in East Lansing.

This offseason, Roe is also preparing for a possible career in acting and was on a movie set in Ann Arbor after landing a role in the upcoming film "AWOL." According to Variety, the Vietnam War-era film stars such young actors as Liam Hemsworth, Austin Stowell and Aimee Teegarden.
Stowell stars as a young soldier in Vietnam who gets dumped by his hometown girl, played by Teegarden. Hemsworth plays his best friend who joins him in going AWOL. Together, they return to the States to win her back.

Being in a movie has allowed Roe, who averaged 6.1 points and 5 rebounds as a junior, to get a taste of what it's like to be part of young Hollywood. He's participating in car chase scenes, got his own personalized director's chair, and had the paparazzi take photos of him. Roe even reached a newfound sense of celebrity when Miley Cyrus, Hemsworth's girlfriend, began following him on Twitter.

All of this is an incredible opportunity for Roe, a theater major who has experienced the pressure of playing in the Final Four, to use what Michigan State taught him and act in a film set on the Michigan campus.

As teammate Draymond Green told USA Today last year while Roe was participating in a Shakespearean production, "He really does love it. I'm happy for him. If basketball doesn't work out, he has acting."
Delvon Roe's injury history is more important to his career than any player's injury history should ever be. Now he's injured again.

Per the Grand Rapids Press, Roe suffered a severe left ankle sprain in an open-gym workout in East Lansing Wednesday. He'll miss about six weeks of workouts, weight lifting and court time with his teammates, another setback for a Michigan State team that missed out on much of that offseason team building prior to 2011's massively disappointing season.

The only good news here, of course, is that this injury is a) merely an ankle sprain, albeit of the "severe" type, and b) has nothing to do with Roe's oft-injured knees.

In high school, Roe built his highly touted reputation as a recruit through his mix of polished post touch and impressive athleticism in a lanky, 6-foot-8 frame. Since arriving at Michigan State, however, the forward has been besieged by knee injuries at nearly every turn. He had surgeries on both knees before playing his first college game. In the summer of 2009, he suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee, an injury he hid from Michigan State's athletic staff, playing an entire season with the hampered knee that culminated in an appearance in the 2010 Final Four. Roe spent much of last summer trying to recover from that injury, and when he nearly hurt himself again in February, Michigan State players and coaches were worried his career might be over.

That wasn't the case, and this ankle sprain won't end anything, either. But Roe has never been able to regain the athleticism and explosion that made him such a talented and touted recruit three years ago.

Now, in advance of his senior season, Roe is facing yet another recovery process. It's just been one inexplicably tough break after another.

Big Ten tournament preview

March, 11, 2011
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Three things I can't wait to see in Northwestern-Ohio State:
  • Can Michael Thompson continue his roll? The spunky little Northwestern guard set a Big Ten tournament scoring record with 35 points against Minnesota Thursday. Theoretically, he'll be facing a tougher defense against the Buckeyes, so it will be difficult for a 5-foot-10 guard to dominate a game. But Thursday he very much looked the part of a senior who is driving to extend his career as long as possible, so we'll see what carries over to Friday.
  • Can Jon Diebler continue his roll? The Ohio State senior sharpshooter has been ridiculous of late, making 17 of 20 3-point shots in the Buckeyes' last two games. Four words for Northwestern: get a hand up. And even that might not be enough.
  • Can Northwestern shock the world? You may not remember, but the Wildcats just about had Ohio State beaten in Evanston in late January before letting it get away. Northwestern had the ball in a tie game in the last 20 seconds before turning it over, then fouling Jared Sullinger with three seconds remaining. He made one free throw for the victory. With that as a backdrop, Northwestern doesn't go into this game lacking hope the way most of us probably think it should.
Three things I can't wait to see in Michigan-Illinois
  • Can the Wolverines sew up a bid? Actually, I think they probably already have, but with fellow bubble-dwellers such as Colorado, Boston College and Georgia winning, Michigan would enhance its peace of mind with a victory today. Nobody wants to spend all day Sunday dithering about whether they're playing in the Big Dance or the NIT.
  • Does Illinois have a run in it? The likelihood of the Illini making a major statement in this tournament seems remote, because they haven't won consecutive games since early January. But even though they're seemingly in the NCAA tournament, there needs to be some reason for Illinois fans to expect something noteworthy next week. Time to give them some hope.
  • Which guard shines brighter, Tim Hardaway Jr. or Demetri McCamey? Hardaway has been on fire lately, averaging more than 20 points per game in his last six -- and his famous father is in Indy to watch him this weekend. As for McCamey, the senior for Illinois has had a fairly disappointing senior season but has shot a higher percentage in the last four games -- he's 27-of-49 from the field in that span. In fact, McCamey's 18 points in Illinois' two-point victory last month triggered his return to form.
Three things I can't wait to see in Michigan State-Purdue
  • Can the Spartans walk, much less play? Point guard Kalin Lucas had an ice pack on his right ankle Thursday night after re-injuring it against Iowa. Power forward Delvon Roe had ice on his chronically problematic right knee, and playing back-to-back games will be tough for him. The Spartans don't have the bodies to endure a lot of injuries, especially in the backcourt.
  • Does Purdue bounce back? The Boilermakers have had a great season, but they ended the regular schedule with a brutal two-point loss at Iowa. A lot of people, including the NCAA selection committee, will be watching to see if that was a blip or the beginning of a negative trend. Getting a No. 2 seed could depend on the showing today.
  • How Purdue-intensive is the crowd? With Indiana having a terrible year and already being eliminated from the tournament, will Conseco Fieldhouse be an ocean of old gold and black? It will be tough to rattle veteran Michigan State, but having the fans behind you never hurts.
Three things I can't wait to see in Penn State-Wisconsin
  • Will Talor Battle ever sit down? The Nittany Lions point guard has played 238 of a possible 240 minutes in his last six games, including the full 40 Thursday night against Indiana. It will be tough to maintain that pace in Indy against a fresh Badgers team.
  • Will Jordan Taylor ever get sloppy with the ball? The Badgers point guard leads the nation in assist-to-turnover margin, and his numbers in that area have only gotten better in recent weeks. He has 24 assists and three turnovers in his last five games.
  • Can Penn State upset Wisconsin again? The Nittany Lions beat the Badgers in State College in late January and split the season series. Given their motivation level to keep winning and get into the NCAA tournament, expect the best that Penn State can bring to the table.

Spartans' Summers warms up at right time

March, 10, 2011
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Tom Izzo sent in a sub for Durrell Summers with 15 minutes, 21 seconds left in the game Thursday. When Summers reached the Michigan State sideline, he looked longingly for a chair at the end of the bench.

No vacancy. He was going to have to take the only open seat -- right next to his exasperated head coach.

The two had done this dance too many times throughout this miserable season. Summers would play poorly. Izzo would bench him. He’d admonish, instruct, cajole, yell, plead … anything to get through to his talented senior guard.

[+] EnlargeMichigan State's Durrell Summers
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesMichigan State's Durrell Summers (15) grabbed a key rebound and scored the Spartans' final seven points down the stretch.
Nothing much seemed to work. A guy who made big contributions on back-to-back Final Four teams floundered through the second half of the season, mirroring the Spartans’ profound struggles.

That continued in Conseco Fieldhouse on Thursday against Iowa in a do-or-die Big Ten tournament game for the Spartans. A loss would doom their NCAA tourney chances. A win would keep them alive -- maybe even cement the bid.

Michigan State led 40-39 when Izzo yanked Summers for getting his third foul. At that point Summers had zero points, one rebound, no assists, no steals, four missed shots and three turnovers to his credit.

But Izzo won’t give up on his upperclassmen. So after his 957th attempt to reach Summers there on the bench, he sent him back in with 12:40 left to play.

The transformation was not immediate, but it was emphatic. By game’s end, Summers was one of the heroes of a 66-61 Michigan State triumph.

Draymond Green had the big numbers: 21 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. Kalin Lucas chipped in 11 points and four assists. Keith Appling had 10. But nobody contributed more timely points than Summers.

He scored the Spartans’ final seven points -- a huge 3-pointer and four icy free throws. On the 3, he was wide open but hesitated for a moment before letting it fly from in front of the Michigan State bench with the Spartans clinging to a one-point lead.

“Guys were yelling from the bench, ‘Shoot it! Shoot it!,’“ Summers said.

He shot it. He swished it. It proved to be the winning points.

Summers also had a steal and a skywalking defensive rebound in the final 25 seconds. He finished with nine points, three boards, two steals and an immeasurable sense of relief.

“It was great,” teammate Delvon Roe said of seeing Summers step up in crunch time. “I was talking to Durrell the whole game. I kept telling him, ‘You’re good. You’re good.’“

Amazing that a guy who scored 21 big-time points in the regional final last year against Tennessee needed that kind of reassurance, but Summers did. In an eight-game stretch from Feb. 2 through March 2, he averaged fewer than six points and made just 6 of 29 3-point shots.

“There are no secrets that it’s been a disappointing year for him and a disappointing year for us,” Izzo said. “And I thought he struggled during the game, just fumbling the ball and doing some things. It all means he’s pressing. Sometimes if you just do a couple things to feel good about yourself, you can get over that. …

“That last shot was big. But I’m not kidding you, the rebounds were just about as big. … Hopefully it motivates him because if his buddy [Kalin Lucas] is able to go [Friday against Purdue], it probably won’t be at full speed, and we’re going to need some more bodies.”

Ah, yes, Lucas. The injury-plagued guard rolled his right ankle during the second half -- the same ankle he injured against Purdue a couple of weeks ago. Last year in the NCAA tournament he tore an Achilles tendon. It’s been a tough slog for Lucas this season, too.

He sat in the Spartans locker room afterward with an ice bag on his right ankle and vowed to play against the Boilermakers, even though he could barely get around the court for the final 13 minutes against Iowa. A few feet away, Roe had ice on his chronically inflamed right knee but vowed he’d be ready to take on Purdue big man JaJuan Johnson.

“I feel good,” Roe said, because the kid is hard-wired to be tough and never complain.

Make no mistake, Michigan State is hurting heading into a matchup with a top-10 team that has beaten it twice already this season. The odds are long -- but no team seems to respond to the pressure of tournament play like the Spartans.

“It’s March time,” Lucas said. “March time is one-and-done time. We know if we lose the next game we’re going home, and we don’t want to go home.”

Durrell Summers, of all unlikely suspects, kept the Spartans from going home Thursday. They’ll need him even more Friday.

Spartans, Orange relying on youth

December, 7, 2010
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Of the four teams at the Jimmy V Classic, which begins tonight at Madison Square Garden, the team that will rely most on its freshmen to get into the NCAA tournament is Memphis. Kansas has the most anticipated freshman, but Josh Selby won’t be eligible to play until Dec. 18.

Syracuse and Michigan State have other parts, but they’ll need production from their freshmen if they’re to compete for league championships, and perhaps nationally.

The headline names for the Spartans and Orange are familiar: for MSU, it’s Kalin Lucas and for Syracuse, it’s Kris Joseph. The health of Lucas’ Achilles tendon remains a hot topic. MSU coach Tom Izzo said he made a mistake in managing Lucas’ minutes in consecutive games in Maui and then at Duke and said he needs “to be careful the next few weeks,” with Lucas. However, the key to elevating the Spartans into national contenders may lie with freshmen Keith Appling and Adreian Payne.

Appling has been sporadic so far, averaging 16.5 minutes and 6.3 points. The Spartans (6-2) need another guard to produce to take the burden off of Lucas. Appling did so in a win over Bowling Green (11 points, three assists and one turnover); he didn’t in a loss to Duke (nothing to show for six minutes of action but two fouls).

[+] EnlargeTom Izzo and Kalin Lucas
AP Photo/Al GoldisKalin Lucas is still working his way back to full speed for Tom Izzo.
“He had a very good game Saturday,’’ Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “But he was in foul trouble against Duke. He’s a tough kid who can defend. And I do think you’ll see a major step with him in the next couple of weeks.’’

Appling can be the third option at guard alongside Lucas and Korie Lucious with Durrell Summers in his own grouping as a scoring wing. For his part, Payne can be a much-needed scoring and rebounding big to complement Draymond Green, Garrick Sherman, Delvon Roe and Derrick Nix.

So far Payne has averaged 10.5 minutes and 3.4 points and 4.1 rebounds. He was limited to single-digit minutes in all three games in Maui.

“Payne is one of the most talented inside guys,’’ Izzo said. “But the four-and-a-half months he missed this summer with a shoulder separation prevented him from doing the one thing he needed to do -- get stronger. Against UConn, he was like a pinball in there and got bumped around. He showed improvement against Bowling Green [15 minutes, six rebounds and four points].

“For us to be a great team, it’s going to come down to still getting Lucas back to normal and those two guys [Appling and Payne] improving,’’ Izzo said.

Syracuse (8-0) is looking at similar issues but needs freshmen Dion Waiters, C.J. Fair and centers Baye Moussa Keita and Fab Melo even more so than Izzo may need Appling and Payne.

The Orange have veterans in Joseph, big man Rick Jackson and guard tandem of Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche. But the development of the freshmen will determine how far this team goes in March.

[+] EnlargeJim Boeheim and Fab Melo
Marc Squire/Getty ImagesJim Boeheim is counting on contributions from young players like Fab Melo.
Waiters (6.6 ppg) and Fair (5 ppg) are averaging just over 13 minutes a game, while Keita is averaging 20.6 minutes and six rebounds a game. Melo is down to 13.5 minutes and 2.6 points and 2.6 rebounds a game.

“The freshmen are making progress,’’ Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Fab has struggled with a sore Achilles for a number of weeks now. It’s held up his progress getting him up and down the court. He starts out well and then his foot is bothering him. That’s what has held him back.’’

Boeheim points to the combined production of Keita and Melo as a positive -- together they are averaging more than eight rebounds a game.

“They’re doing a good job, but we need them to get better, but it is a yearlong process; it’s not going to happen in two weeks,’’ Boeheim said. “Hopefully they’ll all keep getting better. Dion has had some good moments and C.J. has been doing a good job. We’ve got four freshmen among our top eight guys. That’s the youngest we’ve been in a number of years. We have one senior [Jackson], so we’re where we should be at this stage in the season where we’ve scrapped out a couple of wins.’’

The Orange are inexperienced and that won’t change against Michigan State on Tuesday night.

“You find yourself doing a lot more things in practice than we have,’’ Boeheim said. “Last year we were on cruise control with a one hour-and-fifteen minute or one hour-and-thirty minute practice. We did the work, did the running and didn’t correct a lot. We just won games and kept everyone in rhythm. This year we’re scratching for everything we can get.

“We’re not that far away from being 5-3. We were behind in four of our eight games and made some good plays late. We can play a lot better.’’

And if the freshmen start producing, that will change. For Michigan State, the freshmen will be a welcome addition to elevate the Spartans rather than a necessary piece to its conference title hopes.
Raymar MorganAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesFoul trouble limited Michigan State's Raymar Morgan to 23 minutes.

INDIANAPOLIS -- It didn't take Michigan State forward Draymond Green very long to come up for an answer as to why the Spartans had so many problems scoring in Saturday night's 52-50 loss to Butler in the national semifinals of the NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"One thing that made it tough was not having Raymar," Green said.

Michigan State forward Raymar Morgan was saddled by foul trouble early and often against the Bulldogs. Morgan came into the game as the Spartans leading scorer with 11.5 points per game, but he finished with only four points on 2-for-7 shooting in 23 minutes.

"I think he could have caused a mismatch for them," Green said. "He was never able to get into a groove with the foul trouble."

Morgan, a 6-foot-8 senior from Canton, Ohio, never had a chance after he picked up two fouls in a 26-second span early in the first half. He left the court with 15:25 to play. He returned to the floor with 12:41 to play and picked up his third foul about 2.5 minutes later. He didn't play in the final eight minutes of the first half.

Morgan picked up his third foul after Butler's Willie Veasley pulled down an offensive rebound.

"They called the foul on me," Morgan said. "The refereeing is out of my hands. You've just got to play regardless of the calls. But I personally didn't think the foul was on me. Who knows? Maybe it was. I don't know."

It didn't matter what Morgan believed happened, because he was still sitting on MSU's bench. He picked up his fourth foul with 12:38 left to play and sat another four minutes on the bench.

"It's disappointing, but my teammates did a great job trying to pick me up," Morgan said. "Their effort was unbelievable for us to stay in the game and have a chance to win and only lose by two."

It was a disappointing finish to Morgan's college career. In Michigan State's 89-72 loss to North Carolina in the 2009 national championship game at Ford Field in Detroit, Morgan scored four points on 1-for-2 shooting.

"I think a couple of players let [the fouls] get to them," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Raymar did. He really let it get to him early and that's not good. That's something I'll learn from."

Michigan State's starting frontcourt of Morgan, forward Delvon Roe and center Derrick Nix combined to score only eight points on 4-for-12 shooting.

"We're going to do a better job next year," Izzo said. "You think our 'war drill' is something now? Next year, it's going to be fistfighting because I'm going to make sure my guys are never, ever, ever, ever physically beaten out of a game again. And I thought tonight we were."

Can Butler hold on?

April, 3, 2010
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Hometown favorite Butler has a 47-43 lead over Michigan State with less than six minutes to go in Saturday night's NCAA tournament national semifinals game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Can the Bulldogs close it out? Here are a few things to watch:

  • After Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack carried the Bulldogs in the first half, junior forward Matt Howard and senior guard Willie Veasley are helping in the second half. Howard went to the bench and appears to be a little bit wobbly after a collision under the basket.
  • How much do the Spartans miss sophomore guard Kalin Lucas, who is sidelined with a ruptured Achilles tendon? Michigan State has turned the ball over 14 times, and the Bulldogs have converted them into 19 points. The Spartans have seven turnovers this half; Butler has turned it over only once in the second half.
  • After sizzling starts, both teams are struggling to score. Neither team had made a field goal for more than five minutes at the 6:04 mark.

As always, Izzo a master in March

March, 27, 2010
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Durrell SummersScott Rovak/US PresswireMichigan State is heading to the Elite Eight, where the Spartans will meet Tennessee on Sunday.
ST. LOUIS -- In the latest installment of that long-running hit series, “Tom Izzo, Lord of the Dance,” the climactic scene went like this:

Korie Lucious driving, spinning, fading back and springing up on one foot to splash the game-breaking shot over last week’s hero of March, Ali Farokhmanesh.

Great move. Great shot. Great moment for all of SpartanKind. Michigan State evicts Northern Iowa, 59-52, in what can legitimately be called an upset.

[+] EnlargeKorie Lucious
Elsa/Getty ImagesKorie Lucious hit a spinning fadeaway jumper late in the game that gave the Spartans some separation from Northern Iowa.
But peel back a few layers on that play and you see why Izzo is just so ridiculously good at this time of year.

Lucious was at the tail end of a career-high 39 minutes – nine more than his previous high and 17 more than his season average. He was playing all those minutes at point guard because the normal starting point, leading scorer Kalin Lucas, was on crutches on the sideline after tearing his Achilles tendon last week. He had missed six of his eight shots on the night against the unyielding Panthers defense.

And Izzo had enough faith in his sophomore backup to call a clear-out for him with the shot clock draining and less than 100 seconds to play and State holding a two-point lead. It wasn’t the do-or-die shot of last Sunday, when Lucious beat Maryland with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it was huge.

“Just a hunch,” Izzo said of the play call, one he’s made many times for Lucas. “He said he felt good, and I could tell he was confident. And that was a big, big play.”

That, in summation, is what the March version of IzzoBall is all about. The hunches all come up roses. The injuries are overcome. The puzzling performances from the regular season don’t matter anymore.

And somebody always steps up.

Or several somebodies.

In addition to Lucious on this night, it was Delvon Roe, playing 27 minutes on a torn meniscus and somehow coming up with the most spectacular play of the night, soaring in out of nowhere to crush a rebound dunk early in the second half as Michigan State roared back from a seven-point halftime deficit.

“He gave us every ounce he had,” Izzo said of Roe. “… It’s a cliché: lay it on the line. He laid it all on the line, I can promise you that.”

And it was Durrell Summers, continuing his NCAA tournament flourish with a game-high 19 points. Summers is averaging 20 points per game in the tourney, after averaging 8 over his previous eight games. At times in the first half, Summers was the only thing keeping Michigan State in the game. And at one moment in particular in the second half, he rose up and hit a 3 with 7:27 left to give the Spartans the lead for good.

“At certain times in the game we just kind of huddled up and said it’s winning time,” Summers said. “Pretty much what winning time means for us is we’re going to get down and bite the floor on defense and everything’s going to go through our defense.”

Bite the floor. Perfect. That’s defense the Izzo way. And this was defense the Izzo way:

Northern Iowa’s last basket in this game came with 10 minutes and 21 seconds to play. All the Panthers could manage the rest of the way was 10 free throws, as Michigan State stubbornly took the game away.

That truly was doing unto UNI what UNI had done to so many other teams. In the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, the Panthers held Wichita State without a field goal for 10 minutes in the final, held Bradley without a field goal for seven in the semis and Drake without a field goal for 21 minutes in the quarters.

Now here they were on the receiving end.

“They made us take some tough shots, and they played great defense in the second half,” said Farokhmanesh, who made just 1-of-6 outside the arc.

Northern Iowa joins a long list of teams who have seen their seasons end against Izzo over the past 12 NCAA tourneys. He’s now knocking on the door of a sixth Final Four since 1999, close enough to taste it.

Tennessee stands between Izzo and Indy. He has less than two days to get his hobbled team regrouped, rested and ready to face the big, athletic Volunteers.

“It’s great when you’re working at this time of year,” Izzo said. “And I’m going to be working. My whole staff will be working for the next 40 hours, and we’ll see what we can do.”

We know what Tom Izzo can do in this Dance. That’s why he’s the lord of it.

Corey LuciousSteve Dykes/US PresswireMichigan State's Korie Lucious (34) lines up his dramatic buzzer beater against Maryland.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- It was one of the great comebacks in NCAA tournament history. And then it wasn't.

Maryland trailed Michigan State by nine points with two minutes left. Then it took the lead -- twice -- in the final 35 seconds.

It was stunning.

Yet the final toss of fairy dust turned out to be green.

Korie Lucious, the Spartans backup point guard, playing at the end only because Kalin Lucas was out with a torn Achilles tendon, ripped a fade-away 3-pointer at the buzzer and Michigan State escaped with an 85-83 victory in the second round of the Midwest Regional.

It was stunning, take 2. As breathless a final two minutes as you'll see.

Heartbreak?

"It seemed like we were going to win the game and then it was taken away from us," said a stricken Maryland coach Gary Williams.

And euphoria: The Michigan State players piled on Lucious after his game-winner. Even Sparty joined the fray.

"Time was running out," Lucious said. "I just tried to get it up and it went in."

Spartans coach Tom Izzo is now 15-3 in second-round games as his team tries to reach its sixth Final Four in 12 seasons.

The Spartans dominated 38 minutes of the game. They did so with Lucas out the entire second half -- he's likely done for the tournament -- with fellow starting guard Chris Allen only able to play four minutes with a sprained foot and with forward Delvon Roe nursing bum knees.

It was another plot twist in a season that has been all over the place. From high rankings to player suspensions, to critical injuries and inconsistent play to -- now -- a third consecutive Sweet 16.

"Three weeks ago, we wouldn't have won this game," said Draymond Green, who thought he might have shot the game winner when he hit a jumper for an 82-81 lead with 20 seconds left.

But after Green's shot, Maryland raced down the court and Greivis Vasquez, who struggled against the physical defense of Raymar Morgan much of the afternoon, nailed a short jumper with six seconds left that put the Terrapins up 83-82.

Vasquez scored seven of his 26 points over the final 1:27.

"We had the game won for a moment," said Maryland's Eric Hayes, who scored 18 points with seven assists.

Only for a moment. The Spartans controlled the vast majority of the contest because they dominated the boards -- outrebounding Maryland 42-24 -- and their lone remaining starting guard, Durrell Summers was lights out.

Summers, who's been in Izzo's doghouse at various times this year, scored 26 points, hitting 6-of-7 from 3-point range. It's the season scoring high for any Spartan player.

"Durrell, he grew up a lot in the last two weeks," Izzo said.

He and the Spartans appear to be maturing at exactly the right time.

MSU's Allen not in starting lineup

March, 21, 2010
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SPOKANE, Wash. -- Michigan State guard Chris Allen, who sprained his foot in the first-round win over New Mexico State, is not in the starting lineup.

The Spartans typically use a three-guard lineup, but forward Delvon Roe replaced Allen in the starting lineup.

Previewing Friday in Spokane

March, 19, 2010
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SPOKANE -- Does Michigan State have another run in it? Can Purdue go far without Robbie Hummel? Does the nation's leading scorer, Houston's Aubrey Coleman, have enough points in him to shock Maryland and ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez? Will Texas A&M slip because of poor free-throw shooting? Does Siena have another Cinderella win in it? Or is Utah State going to break through?

Those are a few of the many questions that will be settled in Spokane on Friday and Sunday.

SOUTH REGIONAL

No. 4 Purdue (27-5) vs. No. 13 Siena (27-6), 2:30 p.m.

Storyline: Purdue looked like a title contender at one point, but the loss of star Robbie Hummel to a torn ACL has most thinking the Boilermakers won't go far. Siena is dangerous because it's done this before: It's posted first-round upsets the past two tournaments.

What to watch Boilermakers: Will E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, who combine for 31 points per game, give Purdue enough scoring, or will someone else step up? The other three starters combine for just over 14 points per game. Watch out of senior Keaton Grant, who scored in double figures in four of the past eight games.

What to watch Saints: Four players average between 13.6 and 16.3 points per game, topped by Alex Franklin. Ryan Rossiter is the force inside (11.1 rebounds per game), while Ronald Moore is the distributor (7.8 assists per game, which leads the nation). On the downside: They don't consistently hit from 3-point range.

They said it: "The only thing we can do to prove anybody wrong is to win basketball games," Purdue guard Chris Kramer said. "There's a quote that says losers make excuses and winners make it happen. So we just got to go out there and make it happen."

No. 5 Texas A&M (23-9) vs. No. 12 Utah State (27-7), 5 p.m.

Storyline: Texas A&M can't shoot the 3 and struggles at the line, which are both Utah State strengths. Both teams play deliberately, which could mean a low-scoring game. Texas A&M might have noticed that a lot of folks are pegging it for an upset. One thing we know: The Aggies are going to win.

What to watch Texas A&M Aggies: Donald Sloan, a first-team All-Big 12 pick, averages 18.2 points per game. No other player averages in double figures, though though three average nine-plus points. The defense led the Big 12 in scoring (65.8 ppg). The Aggies have shot .475 from the field in their past four games. They are 30-0 under coach Mark Turgeon when they shoot at least 50 percent from the field.

What to watch Utah State Aggies: Point guard Jared Quayle is where Utah State's precise offense starts. He averages 12.5 points, 4.2 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game. Nate Bendall and Tai Wesley are smart, capable post presences. Brian Green is the best 3-point shooter on a very good 3-point shooting team (42 percent).

The said it: "They run a ton of sets, obviously, and run them very well," Turgeon said of Utah State's offense."They have counters to counters to counters. And you've got to pick and choose what you show and how much you show. I have a couple of my seniors and I say, 'Is this a lot?' and they say, 'Yeah, this is a lot, coach'."

MIDWEST REGIONAL

No. 5 Michigan State (24-8) vs. No. 12 New Mexico State (22-11), 7:20 p.m.

Storyline: Did New Mexico State's leading scorer Jahmar Young tweak Michigan State's two-time first-team All-Big Ten point guard Kalin Lucas this week by replying, "Who?" when asked about Lucas. Absolutely. But Young clearly was making a statement that he -- and, by extension, his teammates -- aren't afraid of the Spartans.

What to watch for the Spartans: Lucas leads four players who average in double figures. Chris Allen, suspended for the Big Ten tournament, is the Spartans best threat from 3-point range. The Spartans aren't big but Raymar Morgan, Delvon Roe sixth man Draymond Green are particularly good at grabbing offensive rebounds.

What to watch for the Aggies: Young and fellow guard Jonathan Gibson combine for 38 points a game, but Wendell McKines, Hamidu Rahman and Troy Gillenwater are physical players who each averages in double-figures. The Aggies like to run-and-gun and try to force turnovers. They are 19-0 this season when they outshoot their opponents.

They said it: "I watched him. He can play. Everyone can play. What am I supposed to do, bow down because of what they say? That's not going to happen, but it's no disrespect to him at all," said Young when told that Lucas has been offended by his comments.

No. 4 Maryland (23-8) vs. No. 13 Houston (19-15), 9:50 p.m.

Storyline: It's ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez (19.5 ppg) vs. the nation's leading scorer, Aubrey Coleman (26.0 ppg). Both teams are hot. The Cougars won four games in four days to win the Conference USA Title. Maryland won nine of 10 to finish the regular season.

What to watch for the Terrapins: The Terrapins averaged 79 points per game, so it's obviously not just Vasquez, but the senior will have the ball in his hands if things are tight late. It's likely Maryland is eager to face a defense that allows foes to hit 46 percent of their shots.

What to watch for the Cougars: The 6-4 Coleman will get his points, but the Cougars upset chances probably require more than a one-man show. Guard Kelvin Lewis, the conference tournament MVP, averages 15.3 points per game and he likely will spend plenty of time guarding Vasquez. He also shoots nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.

They said it: "I'm not going to get caught up in trying to go back and forth with him. He's a great player in the ACC. And we know everybody is going against us because we are Conference USA," Coleman said of his matchup with Vasquez. "We don't have nothing to lose."

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