I went back and forth on whether I was going to write this due to the coverage it has gotten recently, but I decided to go for it anyway.
As many of you know, the Michigan State men’s basketball student section is known as the Izzone. And, as you may have heard, this group has largely come under fire for its lackluster performance thus far in the basketball season. I had heard some rumblings on Twitter from Lansing area journalists who were remarking about how “down” the Izzone seemed this year. Perhaps it’s a hangover from the dismal performance of last year…but let’s forget all that. You are cheering for a team that is 14-2, on a 14 game win streak, and playing better than any MSU team I have seen in a long time.
I don’t want to write this as a lecture. I think the Izzone has heard it from just about everyone (including an email sent to all members from Tom Izzo himself). But I just want to touch on my experience with the group.
Let's make Tommy smile again, Izzone.
I was a member of the Izzone from 2004-2007, missing only my senior year due to an internship with the athletic department. My cousin Nik and I were stuck in the rafters freshman year, but we didn’t care. We went to every single game and yelled as loud as we could. Jumping up and down and screaming “air ball” from the rafters of the Breslin Center can be quite frightening, but we lived on the edge.
The last home game freshman year, upper bowl Izzone members were allowed the chance to sit in the lower bowl if we showed up early enough. A group of friends and I (including my poor little sister who wasn’t even a student yet) showed up an insane number of hours early…just for the chance to be down low. We ended up getting in and received seats right at half court, near the S (not Spartan head, kids). We even dubbed that the “Night that Dreams Came True” as we took pictures with various members of the team post-game – including Alan Anderson, Drew Neitzel, and Chris Hill. It was an incredible experience.
The next year, we camped out to receive our lower bowl seats. We pitched a tent on Munn Field…and we ended up being right next to where Tom Izzo and his two kids were camping. That was an…experience, to say the least. We ordered food, did homework, played a number of games of MASH (we’re cool), and had Coach Izzo himself shake our tent the next morning to wake us up. I remember checking my email a few days later and saw with relief that Nik and I were both in the lower bowl. We went to every game together (barring class or something else…and then Sarah usually stepped in). We lived and died by every point.
And there were meager years. Trust me. Junior year we were pretty miserable…Of course, miserable was finishing 23-12 but tied for 7th in the Big Ten and losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament. We still attended every game…yelled and stomped our feet along with Coach and lived and died by every point. The team NEEDED us…and that’s why we were there. The highlight that year? Beating number 1 Wisconsin at home and rushing the Breslin Center court.
Don’t remember that? Well, check this out:
Regardless of ranking, record, or opponent the Izzone should come ready to scream, jump, and boo the opposing team’s starting line-up. There should never be a break. I don’t care if we are playing North Dakota State Tech Southwestern. The opponent should leave East Lansing shaking their heads in wonderment of what they just experienced. I’m not sure they do that any more.
Maybe it’s a general lackadaisical feeling amongst current MSU students. They’ve been spoiled in both football and basketball recently. I mean, the football student section is not filled either. I think it was this year during Senior Day that some of the student section was empty? For the winningest class in MSU football history? Pshh. But I digress.
One of the blessings? curses? of being an MSU fan is feeling the need to constantly defend your team to everyone. Though MSU basketball has been relevant in rankings for a number of years, and won a national title in 2000, it always seems like we must constantly defend and demand respect. Well, part of the way a program is considered Elite is measured by its fans. (See BCS Bowls 2012 for a prime example of schools being chosen based on fans alone…COUGH Sugar Bowl COUGH.)Don’t let anyone question our fans anymore. It ends here.
Tonight is the first chance since all of this started for the current Izzone to make their mark. The proud Izzone alumni showed up during the game vs. Indiana. Don’t let them show you up. Michigan State is the greatest school in the world, in my unbiased opinion, and Tom Izzo is the greatest basketball coach. Do him and the school proud and show up tonight. Be loud. Be proud. And don’t make anyone pay attention to what you’re not doing again.
For those of you who have never been to the Breslin Center, why don’t you head over to Stadium Journey and check out their review of the place? Obviously we love the Bres at Sports Squared, but it’s nice to see “outsiders” like it too! Anyway, here’s a link: http://www.stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/breslin-center-s832/ They also take a look at Spartan Stadium and Munn Ice Arena…as well as a million other places!
What’s Next? The Spartans take on Iowa tonight at the Breslin Center at 7 PM. You can see it on Big Ten Network! Then, the Spartans hit the road at Northwestern on Saturday (3 PM, BTN). After Northwestern we’ll update the Boat Status. Also! Breaking News… Trophy Tuesday will return next Tuesday! Back by popular demand.