March 8, 2009

VIDEO: Izzo glad he was talked into banner ceremony

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo sent back the Big Ten championship hats when they were shipped to Illinois and Indiana and he initially declined athletic director Mark Hollis's requests to hang a championship banner following the Spartans' Big Ten finale with Purdue.

But Izzo gave into Hollis, his longtime friend, and he was glad that he did in the wake of Michigan State's 62-51 over Purdue on Sunday.

"I can't tell you how happy I am for our team and our fans," said Izzo, who won five Big Ten championships during his career at Michigan State. "I am so glad they stuck around and I am so happy for the people who talked me into raising a banner and letting us celebrate."

Izzo explained said that raising the banner was the right thing to do. That is why he eventually relented after initially resisting the idea.

"When they shipped the trophy to Illinois and Indiana, I shipped it back," explained Izzo. "When they shipped the shirts and the hats to Illinois and Indiana, I shipped them back. I'd never do anything on anybody else's court or in their locker room. I wanted to share it with our people. I can't tell you appreciative I am that everybody stayed."

Nearly 80 percent of the 14,759 fans that turned out to watch the Big Ten championship Spartans in their conference finale stayed to watch a post-game ceremony honoring Marquise Gray, Travis Walton, Idong Ibok, and Goran Suton.

Each of Michigan State's four senior took a minute or so to address the crowd before being presented with a framed jersey bearing their number. A three-year captain, Walton received the biggest applause from the fans that stayed for the ceremony.

Michigan State's extended senior day activities are a departure from past senior days. Izzo said that he was pleased with the way the day was handled and suggested that a post-game senior day ceremony will be the norm in years to come.

"I felt like the players that are underclassmen now have something they can look forward to that is special," said Izzo. "Maybe that will help them work and act differently."

Sophomore Kalin Lucas acted like a senior on the court despite suffering flu-like symptoms before and during the game. Lucas may have moved closer to Big Ten Player of the Year honors with his performance against the Boilermakers.

Lucas finished the game with a team-high 21 points. He added 5 rebounds and 4 assists. All but one of Lucas's rebounds came on the offensive glass.

Fifth-year senior Goran Suton was the only other Spartan in double figures. Suton recorded a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

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