Alley-oops were just a bit off, and they all looked a little older, a little slower, a little bigger. But Friday night’s MSU basketball alumni game brought out sheer joy among all 6,500 fans and the players who attended the day 1 of 3 of the at Jenison Jubilee.
Watching Morris Peterson guard Steve Smith, Kevin Willis foul Mateen Cleaves into his NCAA title game jig, Terry Donnelly drain one more long jumper was perhaps the most fun event I’ve been to in 20 years of being around and covering Spartan sports. The closest comparison would be the program’s 100th anniversary season back in 1999. The old guys, the younger guys; the stars, the walk-ons; those in shape, those not-at-their-physical prime – it truly was a celebration of MSU’s proud basketball tradition.
There were 6,500 people filling Jenison, about 4,000 fewer than in its heyday but every bit as loud. Mark Hollis said “never say never” when it comes to having another basketball game at the old building, but he also spoke realistically. It had been about 13 years since the last alumni game there, in 1989, and many of the guys who were running and jumping all over the court Friday night won’t be able to physically do that in another 15 years. (Of course, if the Mayans are right, none of that will matter anyway, right?)
Donnelly – a starter on the 1979 championship team – said he thoroughly enjoyed himself, and both he and Willis spoke of hope that MSU will have more of these kind of alumni games in the future. Graham Couch writes about how that connection with the past was rekindled. Perhaps Hollis and his staff can arrange a similar event in 2015 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Breslin Center.
Tonight’s Game of Change between the MSU men and Division II Tuskegee should be another unique and enjoyable bigger-picture event. The Commodores take the state around 7 p.m. Tipoff is at 9 p.m.
HOCKEY: I’m at Munn Arena right now for a 5:05 p.m. faceoff between MSU and Ferris State, the Spartans’ last game before a two-week break heading into the GLI.
FOOTBALL: QB Damion Terry and WR Delton Williams, both MSU commitments, led Erie Cathedral Prep to the Pennsylvania Class AAA state championship on Friday night.