Thursday, November 12, 2009

Steps to Becoming Duke

The Lansing State Journal ran a great package this week comparing MSU basketball to Duke, noting that the last great hurdle to clear in MSU's rise is to get it into the conversation of the absolute top-tier basketball programs in America.

North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke. That tier.

Tom Izzo told the LSJ's Joe Rexrode that his goal was to take care of every notch between now and that level before he retires. Filling up Midnight Madness was one such notch, but there are more. Izzo's remaining notches are unknown, but here are my thoughts.
  • Sell out every home game. There are still tickets left for our opener against Florida Gulf Coast, for example.
  • Move the Izzone so the TV cameras see it. It boggles my mind that the head-on section the main TV camera sees is the only one in the lower bowl without the Izzone in it. At Duke you see the Cameron Crazies in all their glory. Should be the same at Breslin.
  • Get big games on big TV every year. We're doing that already, with games against Texas, UNC, Gonzaga and Illinois getting the big TV treatment. That has to continue
  • Win those games. The two big losses against UNC hurt, and can't become a trend. You don't want to become the Ohio State football of the college basketball world. With all our injuries, that game against Gonzaga actually scares me.
  • Second round or better every year. Getting to the tournament is key for any school. This year we should go a bit further, but in a bad year we should get to the second round of the tournament.
This is the biggest one though: Don't change how we recruit.

MSU has never recruited a one-and-done player. We never should. Let the Greg Odens and John Walls and Kevin Durants of the world go to Ohio State, Kentucky and Texas, respectively. MSU cannot try and out-sexy these folks. We need to keep that blue collar attitude and the four and five-year players that make MSU what it is.

There are a lot of shady characters in prep basketball and on college basketball coaching staffs (ahemJohnCalipariahem) and thankfully MSU hasn't been mentioned in connection with any of them. Tom Izzo is the biggest reason why it hasn't been.

Actually, not changing how we recruit isn't the biggest thing. Keep Tom Izzo - that's the biggest thing. If Tom Izzo becomes our version of John Wooden or Joe Paterno, that's more than OK by me.

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