Michigan State freshman Gary Harris was a popular vocal target of Indiana fans, mostly students, during the Spartans’ 75-70 loss Sunday in Bloomington, Ind.
And it very nearly cost Indiana the game.
Just as similar taunts toward Branden Dawson last year at Purdue only aided the Spartans.
Harris is an Indianapolis-area kid who chose MSU over the Hoosiers. Dawson, also a heralded recruit, from Gary, Ind., picked the Spartans over the Boilermakers.
So, naturally, their fan bases booed and mocked Harris and Dawson on their first visits.
Dawson, last February, put together a 15-point, 11-rebound, two-block, one-windmill-throw-down-dunk performance in a 76-62 win at Purdue, as the crowd stayed on him. He was essentially the difference in the game.
Harris scored 21 points and hit five 3-pointers against the Hoosiers and several unfriendly chants. Harris, who’d been mired in a mid-season freshman slump, broke out of it and several times stared down the crowd.
These aren’t the only two examples. It happens frequently, a famous example being when former Michigan star Jalen Rose lit up Illinois, as the Orange Crush student section went at him. And Rose later said, as the taunts continued, he was more motivated to shut the crowd up with his play.
It’s something to think about as a student or fan: Are you really helping by poking the bear?
MSU coach Tom Izzo told the story Monday about former Iowa coach George Raveling, on Valentines Day, having a player present MSU star Scott Skiles with a big Valentines Day card when he was introduced, hoping being nice to Skiles would produce a better result for the Hawkeyes.
“His theory was everywhere (Skiles) goes, they’d boo him and yell at him,” Izzo said. “On that given night, we’re going to treat him nice and see if it helps. It didn’t but I thought the logic was pretty good. So when he came up to shake hands, he gave him a Valentine’s Day card. I thought that was a pretty good idea so I might try something like that.”