Spartans Too Much For Hoosiers
Feb. 7, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)-- Tom Izzo and Tom Crean teamed up to build Michigan State into one of college basketball's top programs a decade ago.
When Izzo led the Spartans (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) to a 75-47 win Saturday over the Crean-led Indiana Hoosiers, he was not in the mood to celebrate.
Izzo doesn't like facing former assistants, especially Crean.
"Those banners that are hanging up there, he deserves as much credit as I do," Izzo said. "He's the first guy I hired to try to build something better. In that four-year period, we did."
Crean was an assistant with Izzo, then worked for him from 1995-99 before leaving for Marquette. The next season, Izzo led the Spartans to the national title during their third straight trip to the Final Four, after winning their third of four straight Big Ten titles.
"I looked up at the banners," Crean said. "It's just amazing, being here when some of those went up and seeing how many more have gone up.
"There are a ton of great memories here."
When Michigan State won the national title, Izzo gave Crean a championship ring. When Crean had his best year at Marquette, he gave Izzo a Final Four ring.
"That speaks volumes for the respect we have for each other and how much we think we've helped each other out," Izzo said.
Michigan State beat Crean and Marquette in the first round of the NCAA tournament two years ago, but now they will meet each other every season.
Crean is in his first year at Indiana, trying to turn around a storied program set back by NCAA sanctions and departures.
What does he use from his experience at Michigan State to rebuild the Hoosiers?
"They don't give you enough space to tell you all of that," Crean joked to a reporter.
Crean then acknowledged learning a lot from Izzo, including being a hands-on instructor instead of coaching like a CEO.
"I'd like to think I took a lot of that with me when I left," Crean said.
The Spartans never trailed Indiana, but didn't pull away until a 10-0 run gave them a double-digit lead midway through the second half.
The Hoosiers hung tough and tied the score at 9-9 with 13:46 remaining in the first half on three free throws by freshman Verdell Jones III. MSU held steady, but the Hoosiers cut it to 27-24 with 3:08 left in the half on a pair of free throws by freshman Matt Roth.
"After the first half, we knew we can play with anybody," Indiana's Tom Pritchard said.
The Hoosiers trailed 33-26 at halftime, but back-to-back baskets from junior Devan Dumes cut the lead to 33-30 and that was as close as IU could get.
Michigan State ended up winning easily after beating No. 19 Minnesota 76-47 following two straight losses at home.
"I've been complaining about the consistency of this team," Izzo said. "We've been consistently inconsistent."
"I know getting a win Wednesday night helped everybody's mood, but this is not just a one-shot deal," Crean said. "We've got a lot of building to do and it's going to take a while.
"It could take a long while before we're up to speed to be able to compete against teams like Michigan State."
The Spartans lead the Big Ten with a 9-2 record.
"They are an outstanding team," Crean said. "I'm not surprised because they've been the standard bearer in this league for some time and our players saw it first hand."
The Hoosiers will travel to Minnesota to play the Gophers on Tuesday night at 9 p.m., eastern.
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