ESPN rates Spartans No. 2 in past decade
This was great news for every Spartan!!! Possibly the best team in the last 10 years.
ESPN rates Spartans No. 2 in past decade
MSU ties UConn in poll; Katz ranks Izzo's program best
Lansing State Journal
The past 10 seasons have been the best in the history of Michigan State men's basketball - and according to ESPN's Andy Katz, the best in all of college basketball during that span.
ESPN.com on Monday ranked the top 10 programs in college hoops over the past decade, and the Spartans tied Connecticut for second place behind No. 1 Duke. However, the rankings were accompanied by an in-depth piece from Katz, arguing the Spartans' case for the top spot.
He cited their four Final Four appearances (most in the nation); their 2000 national title; their consistency, with 10 straight NCAA Tournament bids; their recruiting and 10 players drafted by the NBA since 2000 (third-most in that time); their facilities, which he called "the best on that list."
Izzo's scheduling and staff turnover (six assistants leaving for top jobs) also swayed Katz, ESPN's senior college basketball writer.
"I really don't think you can diminish the staff changes Izzo had to deal with and still keep it at a high level," Katz said Monday. "(MSU's) regular-season record may not be as good as everyone else, but they also played a much tougher schedule than everyone else."
That schedule included 32 ranked nonleague opponents, 20 of them in the top 10.
The thing that "pushes the Spartans over the top," Katz wrote, is the fact that every four-year player recruited by Izzo in that time played in at least one Final Four.
Four other ESPN analysts voted in the poll. Jay Bilas and Pat Forde ranked MSU fourth. Andy Glockner and Joe Lunardi put the Spartans at No. 2.
MSU's major drawback, wrote Glockner, was the fact that "the Spartans have not won either the Big Ten regular-season title or conference tournament title since 2001."
Katz admitted the voters did not establish specific criteria before making their picks. For example, he gave MSU bonus points for graduating 29 of 35 players (82.9 percent) who stayed four years.
And although Connecticut has two NCAA titles and a slew of NBA standouts in the past 10 years, Katz ranked the Huskies behind MSU and Duke because of their inconsistency - missing the tournament last season, for example.
"That's what I might be most proud of," Izzo said Monday. "We never took that serious dip, and that makes you pretty worthy of some things."
In the fall of 2005, ESPN listed the MSU men as one of the top 10 basketball programs - men's and women's programs - of all time.
"Now it's a matter of cracking that top-five list, which I've been chasing since I got here," Izzo said.
"We've got to get another Final Four and another national championship to get there."
And the Spartans need to keep bringing in top-notch players. National recognition like MSU got Monday can only help in that regard.
"Oh yeah," Izzo said. "We're gonna get this out to recruits."
QUICK HEALERS: Incoming freshman point guard Kalin Lucas could be back on the court in a couple weeks. Lucas originally feared he tore ligaments in his right ankle a couple weeks ago at an all-star game.
Then he was diagnosed with a broken ankle, meaning he'd be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
But Izzo said Monday that MSU doctors examined Lucas and determined he did not break the foot. It was a severe ankle sprain with a "little crack" in a bone that had been injured previously, Izzo said.
Lucas should be playing again in two to three weeks and be fully healthy for fall practice. Izzo also said sophomore center Idong Ibok, who dislocated his elbow in MSU's NCAA first-round win over Marquette, is healing nicely and "can start playing in another couple weeks."
MOJO LIMBO: Sophomore guard Maurice Joseph continues to mull his future. He is considering a transfer to play somewhere else for his last two seasons of eligibility, primarily because playing time may be scarce for him in the next two seasons.
Joseph will head home to Montreal today, Izzo said, and he's planning to visit at least two schools: Vermont and Rhode Island.
"But it's still open for him to come back, and I mean that," Izzo said.
If Joseph does not find a fit, he could stay at MSU and leave after the 2007-08 season. He is on track to graduate next May, which means he could stay a season and MSU still could have a third scholarship to offer for the 2008 class.
Forward Delvon Roe and guard Korie Lucious are 2008 verbal commitments who can sign in the fall.