The only shame in Saturday night’s game at Jenison Field House is that its postgame press conference happened so late. With a post-9 p.m. start to the Michigan State-Tuskegee men’s basketball game, there isn’t a daily newspaper in the state that could get a story with postgame reaction in its Sunday editions (which, even in the digital age, is the one day print still rules, much to the lasting dismay and bewilderment of web folks).
Normally, the thoughts of the parties involved in a 92-56 matchup between a ranked Division I program and a 1-4 Division II program wouldn’t be worth the newsprint or mouse click.
But Saturday was different. Most of that had to do with the circumstances surrounding this game, that it was meant, in part, to commemorate the 1963 NCAA tournament regional played played at Jenison.
The most interesting comments came from MSU coach Tom Izzo, who praised the more blue-collar crowd at Jenison vs. the high-donor group that exists at Breslin.
“It was a different group of fans, so many it looked like families,” Izzo said. “That was kind of neat. That’s the one thing we miss sometimes with the corporate way that you have to do things now. There were fans that stayed until the end, because they just wanted to see their Spartans. And I appreciated that.”
The best crowd moment, undoubtedly, was the standing ovation given to each of the Tuskegee Airmen introduced Saturday night.
“It was kind of hair-raising on your arms,” Izzo said. “I really appreciated our fans doing that.”
Izzo blamed the circumstances as much as anything for his team’s first-half struggles.
“As I told my team, this week was five days of finals, two days of having every great player who ever played here back at practice and spending time with a concert before the game.
“I told my staff, I’ve never been through anything like this.
“I was worried about how we’d perform and my worries came through in the first half.”