The Spartans blew their opportunity to claim the Big Ten Championship outright with their loss to Ohio State.Â Throughout the season, there was little doubt that OSU was the most talented team in the conference.Â The Buckeyes found their groove late behind the heroics of William Buford for a 72-70 decision over the Spartans in the Breslin Center.Â It was MSUâ€™s only home loss this season.Â
While Ohio State found their groove, something happened as well in the Breslin Center on Sunday afternoon.Â The Breslin Crowd found their groove as well.Â Gone were most of the highly â€œtoutedâ€ IZZONE; they were away on spring break.Â What remained were a small group of IZZONERS and the alumni and local fans that knew what â€˜The Brezâ€™ was supposed to sound like.
The Breslin Center roared like times of old.Â Amid the screams and yells was my own familyâ€¦ four of us, four rows behind Thad Mattaâ€™s bench driving home the Spartan cheers with the force of forty twenty-year-olds, balcony surfing in Cedar Village.Â My father and Uncle Jim are in the latter part of their sixties while my brother and I comfortably straddle the number forty.Â All of the â€˜old timersâ€™ firmly stood with us and took the decibel meter well over 100.Â This is what the IZZONE should be game in and game out.Â I was told by a member of the media that this was one of the three best / loudest crowds at The Breslin Center in the last five years.
So what has happened that our home court advantage is no longer comparable with the likes of Duke or Kentucky?Â How is it that our student section is no longer the dominant home court advantage it once was?Â Why are Alumni and local fans so much louder when crunch time comes?Â These are questions that need to be answered; the IZZONE needs better leadership and coordination from the student body.Â Izzo should never ask for more.Â He has asked for more and it has happened too many times over the last five years.
It starts at the top.Â Whoever is in charge and tagged as the leader of the IZZONE needs to go.Â There is no shame in shopping.Â The IZZONE leadership should be â€˜crazyâ€™ themselves.Â There should be a formal interview process, the more creative the better.Â The IZZONE leadership needs to take a look aroundâ€¦ take a trip to Duke, Kentucky, UNC and Syracuse.Â They need to talk to the leaders and coordinators of those student sectionsâ€¦take the best from the rest and make it our own.
The newspaper thing is â€˜cute,â€™ but Maryland invented that years ago.Â We need fresh ideas and speaking frankly, we need to restore the Breslin Center as the place feared most among teams in the Big Ten.Â I am not sure we are the toughest environment in our own conference.Â The gap between Michiganâ€™s Maize Rage and the IZZONE has started to close.Â We cannot afford to be seen as an environment equal to our archrival.
The Alumni and local Lansing fans that made up the home court advantage on Sunday was spectacular.Â The arena was packed to the rafters and the Spartan Family gave the Spartans the best they had.Â Whether itâ€™s Ohio State, Duke or UMKC, the Breslin Center should rock and anything less should be viewed as failure.
This team has overachieved all season long.Â The least we can do is give them the home court environment and support they deserve.Â Next season ushers in one of the top recruiting classes in the country.Â Michigan State will be loaded with championship talent.Â Will the IZZONE finally restore the Breslin Centerâ€™s reputation as the leagueâ€™s toughest place to play?Â The IZZONE can no longer get away with the wine-n-cheese mentality they have had the past couple seasons.Â Â It is time for the IZZONE to remember who they are and where they came from.Â Spartan Basketball is specialâ€¦ they are champions.Â Our student section should reflect the character and toughness of the team they represent.