Oct 17, 2011
Izzo Enters Midnight Madness In Replica Fighter Jet

EAST LANSING — The fighter jet arrived at its final destination shortly after 11:30 p.m. Friday, directed to its center court resting place by a three-member landing crew.

Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo stepped out of the silver plane, dressed in a green flight suit and white helmet, completing another fan-friendly mission that has become a staple at the program’s annual Midnight Madness celebration.

After arriving at the Breslin Center in past years by horseback and dressed from head-to-toe in leather via motorcycle, Friday night’s Hollywood theme seemed to suit Izzo just fine.

“That beats the hell out of repelling down from the ceiling, said Izzo, who was featured in a Top Gun” video parody in conjunction with the Spartans’ Nov. 11 season opener against North Carolina on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego.

Izzo told a energetic crowd that Michigan State legend Ervin “Magic” Johnson would serve as an honorary captain for the game, which will be attended by President Barack Obama.

After telling former players his program would be one that would play anyone, anywhere and at anytime, Izzo joked that this season he dumbed down the schedule, referring to a slate that begins with North Carolina and Duke.

Friday night’s Midnight Madness — the annual tip-off event for both the Michigan State men’s and women’s programs — included pyrotechnics blazing off the top of both backboards as players walked through the crowd down to the floor.

Friday night’s event was attended by several former players, including Mateen Cleaves, Delvon Roe, Drew Neitzel, Shannon Brown and others that Izzo credited with building an arena that includes two national championship banners, the latest which came in 2000.

“They built this arena, Izzo said. We’re just renting it.”

Despite coming off its 14th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, Izzo told fans that he understands last year’s 19-15 overall record and 78-76 loss to UCLA in the first round didn’t meet expectations.

“It wasn’t like we had an awful year, but it wasn’t up to your expectations — nor mine, Izzo said.

Izzo pledged that his team would push for another tournament appearance — something that Cleaves told the crowd Friday night has come to define Izzo’s program.

Championships, Final Fours — that’s just in our DNA, Cleaves said.

While Izzo characterized as this year’s roster as young, it’s one he said Friday he likes and expects to improve on a daily basis.

Among the biggest ovations came from senior forward Draymond Green, who led the Spartans in rebounds (8.6 per game) and assists (4.1), while ranking second in scoring (12.6 ppg.) last season.

Green will be the bona fide leader of a team that includes three redshirt seniors, including Austin Thornton and Brandon Wood, who transferred to Michigan State from Valparaiso.

Izzo’s Top Gun” appearance wasn’t the only starring role made by a Michigan State coach at Friday night’s 2 1/2-hour event.

Spartans’ women’s coach Suzy Merchant emerged as the “Rocky” theme resonated throughout Breslin Center.

Wearing a black silk robe and holding her youngest, son, Brady, Merchant moved to a ring at center court, where her players awaited her arrival.

Mercant’s Spartans are coming off a Big Ten championship and return the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year Lykenda Johnson.

“We’re defending champs, there’s going to be a lot of people coming after you, Merchant said. We’re ready for that challenge.”

Izzo Enters Midnight Madness In Replica Fighter Jet

The Grand Rapids Press, Jeff Arnold

http://www.mlive.com/spartans/index.ssf/2011/10/top_gun_tom_izzo_helps_launch.html

EAST LANSING — The fighter jet arrived at its final destination shortly after 11:30 p.m. Friday, directed to its center court resting place by a three-member landing crew. Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo stepped out of the silver plane, dressed in a green flight suit and white helmet, completing another fan-friendly mission that has become a staple at the program’s annual Midnight Madness celebration. After arriving at the Breslin Center in past years by horseback and dressed from head-to-toe in leather via motorcycle, Friday night’s Hollywood theme seemed to suit Izzo just fine. “That beats the hell out of repelling down from the ceiling, said Izzo, who was featured in a Top Gun” video parody in conjunction with the Spartans’ Nov. 11 season opener against North Carolina on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego. Izzo told a energetic crowd that Michigan State legend Ervin “Magic” Johnson would serve as an honorary captain for the game, which will be attended by President Barack Obama. After telling former players his program would be one that would play anyone, anywhere and at anytime, Izzo joked that this season he dumbed down the schedule, referring to a slate that begins with North Carolina and Duke. Friday night’s Midnight Madness — the annual tip-off event for both the Michigan State men’s and women’s programs — included pyrotechnics blazing off the top of both backboards as players walked through the crowd down to the floor. Friday night’s event was attended by several former players, including Mateen Cleaves, Delvon Roe, Drew Neitzel, Shannon Brown and others that Izzo credited with building an arena that includes two national championship banners, the latest which came in 2000. “They built this arena, Izzo said. We’re just renting it.” Despite coming off its 14th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, Izzo told fans that he understands last year’s 19-15 overall record and 78-76 loss to UCLA in the first round didn’t meet expectations. “It wasn’t like we had an awful year, but it wasn’t up to your expectations — nor mine, Izzo said. Izzo pledged that his team would push for another tournament appearance — something that Cleaves told the crowd Friday night has come to define Izzo’s program. Championships, Final Fours — that’s just in our DNA, Cleaves said. While Izzo characterized as this year’s roster as young, it’s one he said Friday he likes and expects to improve on a daily basis. Among the biggest ovations came from senior forward Draymond Green, who led the Spartans in rebounds (8.6 per game) and assists (4.1), while ranking second in scoring (12.6 ppg.) last season. Green will be the bona fide leader of a team that includes three redshirt seniors, including Austin Thornton and Brandon Wood, who transferred to Michigan State from Valparaiso. Izzo’s Top Gun” appearance wasn’t the only starring role made by a Michigan State coach at Friday night’s 2 1/2-hour event. Spartans’ women’s coach Suzy Merchant emerged as the “Rocky” theme resonated throughout Breslin Center. Wearing a black silk robe and holding her youngest, son, Brady, Merchant moved to a ring at center court, where her players awaited her arrival. Mercant’s Spartans are coming off a Big Ten championship and return the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year Lykenda Johnson. “We’re defending champs, there’s going to be a lot of people coming after you, Merchant said. We’re ready for that challenge.”






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