By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

It was a story of brotherhood, sacrifice, motivation, determination, and perseverance. On Sunday night, ESPN aired a classic documentary!

The profile on the University of Michigan’s “Fab Five” was one of the greatest documentaries that I have ever watched. I’m not saying this because I hail from the Great Lakes State, I’m strictly speaking from a basketball purist’s point-of-view.

It’s not a doubt in anyone’s mind that from 1991-1993, hoops fans around the country got to witness one of the best college teams to ever step foot on the hardwood but people wanted something more tangible. The streets feined for the behind-the-scenes story of the team. The exclusive. People wanted it raw and uncut and the film delivered big-time with a five-star performance.

Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard, and Ray Jackson were often described as “rockstars” who were “bigger than the score at the end of the game.”

They were right!

If not, we wouldn’t be talking about the team nearly 20 years later since they failed to bring home a national championship for two straight seasons.

Hip-hop legend, Ice Cube, summed up the squad better than anyone else in the film.

“They brought like our attitude to the court,” he said of the Fab 5 and his generation. “The Fab Five let people know it’s not how old you are as long as you can play.”

In today’s game, a college program may get lucky enough to have a couple of freshman who are able to make a great impact in one season(ie Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, John Wall). But five? That still baffles me.

It’s also crazy that a group of teenagers became cultural icons for being themselves. They rocked the black socks under the freshest Nike sneakers, banged the dopest hip-hop at the time, and had fun doing it.

The journalists of that era should now feel stupid for not covering them in the proper manner. The team was clearly ahead of its time and experts like Dick Vitale and Bill Walton were exposed for the ignorant comments they made back then.

“The black shoes. The ugly black socks. It’s the shaven head. I mean my head’s shaven because I have no choice,” Vitale said. “But all of that really has come back to haunt them in the eyes of a lot of people.”

“I think this is one of the most overrated and most underachieving teams of all-time,” Walton went on the record to say. “These are guys who come in and epitomize what is wrong with a lot of basketball players. They think they’re better than they are.”

This ticked the guys off.

“Media members would judge us by more than just how we played. They would judge us by how we dressed,” Rose said of their bad coverage. “You know ‘he’s listening to NWA, he’s listening to Ice Cube.’ You know. ‘Who is Big Daddy Kane? Who is EPMD? What is Naughty by Nature?”

Rose was the clear-cut star of the movie. With Webber deciding not to participate in the project, Rose shined.

I truly felt like Rose spoke to all the young black males across the world that may be going through a comparable struggle.

Maybe it’s because he grew up in the D but Rose immediately gained credibility with me early in the film. He said he knew about the mayonnaise sandwiches and the sugar water.

His biological father, Jimmy Walker, wasn’t in his life —although he was a former NBA player who averaged 16.7 points per game in nine seasons. Rose said he despised his father in high school at Detroit Southwestern and wore the No. 42 instead of the No. 24 for motivation since Walker wore that number during his prep years. He also talked trash to opponents, even going so far as to do his homework on each one of them.

In some ways I can relate to Rose. It’s pretty much the same growing up in Flint.

Although I didn’t have it to his extent, I felt his pain and have similar experiences. My biological father was not a part of my life but I was blessed enough to have a dad step in my life to fill the void at a very young age. Even though I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a great father figure, I’m still bitter in some ways towards the man that gave me life.

I have friends who sold drugs.

I could have easily been put in the same situation that Rose was put in at the alleged “crack house” in his hometown.

“When they come in the house we’re laughing like ‘I don’t know what kind of tips you guys got’ like ‘y’all wasting y’all time,'” Rose recalled in the film. “I remember it like it was yesterday, the cops said ‘we got rocks! Who’s house is this? Let’s go!’

Rose was given a ticket for loitering in a place where drugs were stored. He clarified that it wasn’t a “dope house” but that wasn’t how it was unveiled to the public. They went so far as to stir rumors that he may have been a drug dealer himself.

“I know what a dope house is. I know what a crack house it…trust me! I’ve walked past a few,” Rose added. “I know people that have been inflicted by a lot of that. Drug infusion came in the mid-80’s. I know about the drug game but I never been a drug dealer and that was not a crack house.”

Comments like this were powerful. Rose kept it real about everything all in the film. Not saying that King, Jackson, or Howard didn’t but I just felt like his words were a little more powerful than the rest of the cast. The lefty had a great way of touching the audience with his personable attitude.

It was inspirational that Rose channeled the negative media coverage he received from that situation into a positive one. In the next game after the ordeal, Rose arguably played his best game as a Wolverine.

On March 10. 1993, he dropped 23 points and grabbed 8 rebounds against Illinois on the road and silenced a rowdy crowd. They all yelled hurtful comments from the stands but Rose responded in the typical Fab Five fashion: not giving a f***!

This film also taught me a lot. Since I was only three-years-old when the five freshmen relocated to Ann Arbor to enroll at the University of Michigan, I didn’t know everything about them. I learned that Juwan Howard was the mastermind behind getting all the players to become Wolverines. I was also informed about how they protested from wearing all Michigan apparel since they weren’t reaping any of the financial benefits that the university gained on their behalf.

The Fab Five’s story was about more than the game of basketball. It was heartfelt and is still relevant to today’s youth. We needed to hear this story in Michigan and all over the world for that matter.

After watching the special, I’m happy to say that I got the chance to meet the great Jalen Rose.

I was covering the University of Michigan’s game against the Michigan State Spartans on Jan. 26, 2010 in Chrisler Arena and ran into him. (By the way—MSU won, 57-56, after a clutch jumper from Spartans guard Kalin Lucas)

Rose was in rare form as he sported a pair of crispy Red/White Nike Air Force 1’s, a red-corduroy suit and a light blue shirt underneath —unbuttoned at the top—with no tie. At 37-years-old, he continued to express himself, just like he did in his U-M days when he ran the point guard. That will forever be appreciated.

Chrisler Arena may be stripped of the Fab Five’s banners but the legacy will live forever.

In the words of Jay-Z: “If you can’t respect that, you’re whole perspective is wack!”

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Flint's Chelsey Jackson of the IPFW women's basketball team.

By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

FLINT, Michigan — The typical college athlete generally begins to play his/her desired sport at a very early age.  Most of the time they begin to hone their skills starting as soon as elementary school because they have a unique passion for their craft.

Chelsey Jackson was different.

“I was just playing because a couple of my other friends were playing,” Jackson said.

The Flint native didn’t participate in organized basketball until she was 12-years-old and didn’t get serious about it until after a close relative passed away. She used the game as an outlet to release her inner frustrations.

Jackson never dreamnt that something she did to help past the time would one day earn her a full-ride athletic scholarship to Indiana-Purdue/Fort Wayne University.

Now a senior playing on IPFW’s women’s basketball team, Jackson is one of the school’s all-time greats. On Feb. 5, she became just the 15th member of the university’s 1,000-point club after scoring a game-high 19 points against Western Illinois. Last Saturday, she showcased her skills in front her of loved ones when she made her homecoming trip to Michigan as the Mastodons took on Oakland University in Rochester.

With over thirty of her close relatives in the stands sporting white t-shirts that beared her name and number on them, Jackson poured in 12 points and handed out three assists. The Mastodons defeated the Grizzlies, 70-55.

“It’s always good coming here and playing in front of my family because a lot of them don’t get to go to Fort Wayne to see me play,” Jackson said.”So it’s always fun coming back here and playing.”

Although they may not have the time to be present for all of her contests, her folks are appreciative of all her accomplishments.

“I’ve always been proud of Chelsey since she first decided that she wanted to play. It’s just fantastic for me” Jackson’s father, Richard Williams said.”Playing Division I basketball, getting to play against some of the best talent in the country. What more can you ask?”

Jackson decided to attend IPFW after graduating from Flint Central high school in 2007. As a junior at Central, she only averaged 8.9 points but improved that production to 21.3 as a senior. She also led the city in scoring during her final year of prep basketball and was named to the First-Team All-Saginaw Valley Conference squad.

When it came time to decide on what college would be the best fit, she made her decision based solely on which program would afford her the opportunity to develop the best.

“I just felt like IPFW was a place that I could grow with because when I first came here the program wasn’t really big,” Jackson recalled.”They were just trying to sell us a dream on the idea, and I was just trying to find a place where I could just grow with the program. I felt like IPFW was the place where I could do that.”

Jackson averages 9.7 points thise season and has reached double-figures in her last four games.

On Monday, Jan. 31, she chipped in 23 points connecting on six of her nine field goal attempts against Centenary. She fired back with 19 points on Western Illinois. Against IUPUI on Feb. 7, she scored 15 points with five rebounds and added 12 more at Oakland.

“Her performances the last three weeks have been unbelievable. Chelsey’s always gone through some trying to figure out what she’s best at and she’s just figured it out now,” IPFW head coach, Chris Paul said.”You can just see it on the floor now, she’s calm, she’s comfortable, she looks like a senior, she’s shooting the ball with confidence. I just can’t say enough about the progress she’s made, not only this year but from her freshman year until now.”

IPFW is in second place of the Summit League with a record of 11-3 in conference play.The Mastodons have a overall record of 17-6.

“I’m just trying to work hard every time, every second I am on the court and that’s been paying off,” Jackson added.

Flint's own, Mark Ingram at the podium in Atwood Stadium.

Good afternoon everybody! It’s good to be home, I will tell you that much. Me and my family, we’re real honored to be here today and we just really enjoy everybody that came out here to support us and you guys really don’t know how much we appreciate it and all of the love that you guys have been showing us and it’s greatly appreciated and I love you guys too and thank you.

And um, I wanna thank the committee that put all of this together and made this a success today because this is a special event and this is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. I’m a very blessed individual and people often wonder how I can be so humble but it’s just I know who’s in control of my life and that’s with the help of my church family and the youth choir that just sang right now. I love coming home just to be able to go to church and hear them and we’re all close. We’re not a big church but we all love each other and we worship every Sunday.

I can’t even put into words what it felt like in that month of December and January (after) winning the Heisman and the national championship. It was magical and I did in one month what most athletes dream of doing in their whole careers. I’ve celebrated in lots of places and been honored in lots of places but it’s more special to me and I feel the more (love) being honored at home and celebrating with the people that I grew up with and my family and people that live in the same city so this is real special for me today.
I’m proud that the city thinks of me so high and that I’m a role model for kids everywhere, but I’m more importantly proud to show the young people in this community that they can be successful as long as they put their minds to anything that they wanna do. When Trevor came up here and he was reading me his paragraph or whatever, that was the coolest thing to me ever. I mean, just the fact that I have somebody looking up to me and somebody that I’m a role model for…I’m only 20 years old…I’m still trying to live myself so that’s just amazing and I’m truly grateful for that.

But none of this would have been possible without my family. We’re all real close, we’ve been through lots of hardships and rough times but we’ve always persevered and pushed through them all. I’d like to thank my mother, she’s always been there for me. My father on being a great influence on my life and helping me become the man I am today. My sisters and all my family, I got aunts, uncles, and cousins all right there. I can’t even point them all out to you guys. But we all appreciate it and we’ve had fun and this has been a great atmosphere today. I’d also like to thank Southwestern, my school, S-DUB!  For all that they’ve did today. I’d like to thank Grand Blanc for all that they’ve done today as well. I’d like to thank the mayor, Ryan and Greg, all of the athletes that came back. They embraced me with open arms and gave me encouraging words all throughout the season and I love them all because they’ve been there for me through everything. I’d also like to thank my coach at Southwestern, I know they’re here Coach (Gary) Lee. Coach I know all you guys are here. I thank you for putting me in the situation that I am today and giving me the opportunity to be the best that I could be. I know Coach Hollywood’s out there somewhere, I seen him walking around. He around here somewhere. I gotta holla at him too.

Winning the Heisman and helping my team win the national championship, were some great achievements but my ultimate dream is to simply be the best person I can be. This is not the end of my goals, it’s just the beginning. I have school and a career and I don’t know, I just wanna be the best person I can be. I wanna have a family one day and kids and I just wanna be a great person and give God all the praise and glory and thanks for coming out to celebrate with me and bless you all. Thank you!

His government name is Brandon Denta Bowdry, but those that know him best simply call him “B-Bo.”

Similar to Tommy “Tiny” Lister’s character from the movie Friday known as “D-Bo,” Bowdry is intimidating as they come. While D-Bo often stole everybody’s stuff in the movie, B-Bo does the same on the court stealing points and boards as if his life depended on it.

With a deep southern accent, dark skin, and dreads dangling from underneath a headband, I dare you to try to take something from B-Bo on the court. In the words of Chris Tucker, you might get “knocked the f*** out!”

For Bowdry, this intimidation is clearly a gift but has also been a curse as well. This was evident in Eastern Michigan’s final game against Akron this past Thursday in the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals. Although the game was nearly out of reach in the second overtime, the 6 foot 6, 235 pound forward  picked up his second technical foul with 25 seconds left after he intentionally elbowed an Akron player. The contact was not initially seen by the officials, and they assessed the technical and ejection after consulting video replay.

While some may view this as a bad trait, I look at it as a player that is passionate about winning and I will take him on my team any day. Bowdry also finished the night with 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field and grabbed a game-high 14 boards against Akron. This was his 16th double-double of the season.

Growing up on the mean streets of St. Louis, Mo., B-Bo often had to fight for what was his. In search of a better life, his family decided that it would be best for him to play his final two years at Truman H.S. in Taylor, Mich. for head coach Charles Suttles because it was really bad in his area. This explains why one of his recent Facebook statuses simply stated: “JUST WORK ON YOSELF AND YOU’LL GET WAT U DESIRE AND DESERVE.” He really means it!

At Truman, Bowdry flourished into one of the best players in the state. He averaged17.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 2.2 assists while leading Truman to the Class A quarterfinals and a 21-5 record. After the season, his decision to attend Eastern Michigan also turned out to be a great move. In his freshman year he would start in 28 of the team’s 32 games and was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman team after averaging 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds.

In his sophomore year, he would take a big blow as he was forced to miss the entire season with a broken foot. Instead of letting the adversity break his spirits, Bowdry simply worked himself back into shape and came back the next season even stronger. In the 2008-2009 season, Bowdry would go on to score double figures in 29 of the 32 games as well as lead the team in scoring and rebounds with 14.8 points 7.2 rebounds per-game.

Entering this season as a red-shirted junior, Bowdry once again realized that he would have to take what he wanted. Averaging grown man numbers with 16.3 points and 10 boards, B-Bo earned his second bid on the second-team All-Mid-American Conference this season. With the team now primarily in his hands, since senior point guard Carlos Medlock is now graduating, it doesn’t look like  B-Bo will be taking anything less from his opponents next season.

*This post can also be viewed on mlive.com!

Although he was nicknamed after Scarface’s sidekick, Manolo, if you’ve ever watched any Michigan games this season it’s clear to see that Manny Harris is far from that!

Despite the heartbreaking defeat on Friday afternoon that Harris and the Wolverines suffered to Ohio State following Evan Turner’s buzzer-beating three-pointer, the future still looks bright for the Detroit native. Going mano y mano with arguably the best player in the country, Harris held his own.

Manny finished with 26 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, and 1 Blk.

Turner finished with 18 Pts, 3 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl, and  2 Blks.

Down the stretch, Harris stepped up when it mattered most scoring 11 of U-M’s final 14 points including a fade-away off the right elbow to give Michigan a 68-66 advantage with 2.2 seconds left. While Manny won the battle, Turner clearly won the war hitting the 37-foot three-pointer as time expired to give Ohio State the win. With that being said, Manny has a tough decision to make: Should he stay or should he go? Should Manny Harris enter the 2010 NBA Draft?

His partner in crime, DeShawn Sims, is a senior. His team didn’t live up to expectations. His name is hot right now.

Personally, I think the decision is an easy one…make the leap! Although that seems like the smart move the make, I believe that Manny will stay out of loyalty to his university. This was the whole reason he even decided to become a Wolverine.  

“It’s easy to go to a championship team or a team that’s already established but it’s harder to go there and try to establish it so that’s what I kinda was thinking about was going and changing it,” Harris said during UM’s media day earlier this year. “Plus I was talking to DeShawn and I just was dreaming big the whole time.”

I believe the same may be true with him going to the league. He probably is thinking the he has to try to fix what’s right at home before he decides to venture off into the professional ranks. The 6 foot 5, junior, may also want to stick around another year to add a few extra pounds to his bony frame, gain a little more experience, and to play with Tim Hardaway Jr. in his senior season.

While all of this may work in his favor there still is the possibility of injury which could pan out to be very fatal for a player of his caliber. Especially for one that’s worked as hard as he has to get to this level.

When Harris entered high school, he wasn’t initially viewed as one of the top players in his area. He went from nothing to something. Zero to Hero. Everything has been earned.    

“Coming up I was always kinda like the underdog, it was kinda like a will thing,” Harris said. “I kinda just had heart but I was just the smallest one out of everybody but one summer I just blew up and as far as getting taller I just shot up so that helped me a lot.”

For Manny, it’s deja vu all over again. The 2010 Big Ten Tournament has been a lot like that one summer he “blew up” in high school. His 26 points are tied for the second-most points scored by a Michigan player in a Big Ten Tournament game and he moved into the 10th spot on U-M all-time scoring list. He also finished the season averaging 18.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 6 boards per game.

For Manny Harris, the time is now!

*This post can also be viewed on It’s Just Sports!

Not many current college players can say that they are their school’s all-time leading scorer before the season even ends! This is exactly what Western Michigan University’s David Kool is: WMU’s all-time leader in points.

Kool has been described by his teammate Don Lawson as a person “who doesn’t want to score all the time.” Lawson also went on to descibe him as “relaxed and kinda like an old man who never wants to do too much.”

Coming out of South Christian High School in 2006, Kool was often overlooked even though he won the Mr. Basketball trophy that year as well. Now, coaches around the state have to be kicking themselves for passing up on a player like Kool who is currently averaging 21 points even.

After an evening practice last week, I caught up with “Kool-Aid” to talk hoops, life, his future, and just about everything else…

Eric Woodyard: You’re the No. 1 scoring leader at Western Michigan University, how does that feel?

David Kool: It’s pretty crazy! Still when people say that, it still gives me chills up my spine and it’s just insane to think about with all of the hard work that I put in in high school and even here it’s paid off and it’s another thing that goes to tell you that work ethic takes you where you wanna go.

EW: Obviously when you first got here you were hurt, could you see this happening and all of this success then?

DK: I had no idea what it was gonna be like. I knew everybody in high school was telling me how different college is and how different the game is and it was just a learning process and it took a long time and it took a lot of guys beating up on me and realizing what my role was and understanding that and then once I got that understood, it just exploded from there.

EW: Your coach told me that you had to get your work ethic as far as taking care of your body better and getting into yoga and things like that, was this something that you decided to do on your own?

DK: It was little bit of both. My freshman year when I hurt my hamstring, the strength and conditioning coach and then the trainer at the time kind of pushed me towards yoga and I was skeptical at first thinking yoga’s just like a girlie thing and not wanting to do it but it really did work and I got more flexible and it was just one of those things that I had to do and I had to realize that if I wanna play all the minutes that I play to do everything that I wanna do that I need to take care of my body and I had to sacrifice some of the things that normal college people would do so that I can excel on the court.

EW: We’ve talked a lot about basketball but talk about how you’re able to be cool with everyone personally on the team because you have to take a lot of shots and you still have a good relationship with everyone regardless of your big role…

DK: I think that’s what I’m most proud of. I think my character just goes a long ways and I just try to be friends with the guys first. I didn’t come in here thinking that I was the man and I’m gonna  take all of the shots, I just try to get my teammates involved first and try to build their trust up first, on and off the court. I think it’s that much easier if you’re friends with them off the court  and then they know how hard you work and they know that the bottom line is that we all wanna win games and I think anyway that you can do that then everybody’s gonna be happy.

EW: You have a girlfriend that’s on the women’s basketball team, is that pretty tough that you guys both play basketball? How is that? Do you guys ever challenge each other in games or anything like that?

DK: (Laughs) We played a little one-on-one a little early in our careers when we were both fresh but now that we’re both seniors we’re kind of laying off that. We both come in the gym and shoot sometimes together but it’s tough on the relationship just because we both have opposite schedules so like whenever I’m away, she’s home and whenever she’s home, I’m away so it’s tough but we’re both used to it since we’ve been dating for so long now and it’s been real fun growing with her.

EW: Is she pretty supportive your skills and critiquing you and things of that nature?

DK: She is! She does a good job. She knows when to say things and when I’m in a bad mood she knows to come in and try to cheer me up and then she knows when to give me to pointers too. We like to listen to each other and it’s nice to have another voice that actually knows what’s going on and I definitely try to listen to her and respect her opinion.

EW: Back to getting that scoring crown and becoming the leader, talk about how it actually felt. I play a lot of basketball myself so I know it had to be crazy to actually know that that point was going in. It was at the free throw line right?

DK: Yeah…

EW: Just how did it feel to actually have that go down?

DK: It was a feeling that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before. It was one of those things that I just happened and I knew it being at the free throw line when I hit the first one that was the one that tied it and the second one was gonna break it so going into that second shot I kind of like closed my eyes, praying that it goes in so that I could just get it over with. Even though how great of a record it was, I did feel a little bit of pressure coming into the game to break it so I think it was nice to break it so that we could move on to start talking about some team-oriented goals but it was a great feeling and after that happened, we knew we were gonna lose the game but the crowd was standing and gave me a standing ovation and it was awesome.

EW: What would you like your legacy at Western Michigan to be remembered as?

DK: I think that the main thing that I wanna be remembered as is a competitor (and) a person who puts everything out there on the floor and tries to do things the right way. I’m not gonna do everything perfectly, I’m gonna miss assignments every game, I’m gonna miss shots but just in the end just plays the game the right way and got my teammates involved, I was a team player, but then again I wanna be remembered as a winner so we got a little bit of ways to go here and I want my legacy to definitely be remembered here as a winner and a champion.

EW: How would you like to cap this season off?

DK: There’s no doubt about this season, and it’s the same that I’ve wanted every season. My goal was to come in here and get Western to the NCAA Tournament and the first three years, obviously we haven’t done that but that’s the one goal that I know me (and the other seniors) all have in mind. We want to win the MAC Tournament and then get to the NCAA Tournament and make some noise in there.

Saginaw Native, Draymond Green, leads MSU on the defensive end against Northwestern

After an emotional victory over their in-state rival, the University of Michigan, the Michigan State Spartans stepped into the Breslin Center on Saturday, January 31, 2010 as confident as ever.

With a perfect record in their conference play, 8-0, the Spartans were looking to continue their domination of the Big Ten when the Northwestern Wildcats made the trip to East Lansing, Michigan.

Pre-Game

In 12 degree weather, an African-American male stood outside of the stadium gripping a sign saying “I NEED TICKETS!” Several other fans swapped money for tickets as their was a legitimate buzz to see the Spartans dominate their next opponent on their home floor.

“I just sold my last ticket, it was courtside too,” a chunky, tall black man says to someone asking for a ticket.

Walking past the security guards and finally getting onto the hardwood in the media section, the sounds from thousands of MSU loyalists cheering from the stands quickly fill the air. While most rocked a white “Izzone” t-shirt, symbolizing the student section, others wore jerseys of past and present MSU athletes like Mateen Cleaves (No. 12), Kalin Lucas (No. 1), Raymar Morgan (No. 2), Magic Johnson (No. 33), Morris Peterson (No. 42) and several other random players.

No matter who you were, you couldn’t help but to feel the Spartan pride especially if you decided to look up into the rafters and see the two National Championship (1979 and 2000) banners swaying from left to right, complemented by several other Final Four and Big Ten championship banners.

This is Michigan State basketball! It’s about pride, toughness, and domination…

First Half

Charged up from the intensity of the crowd as well as their head coach, the Spartans came out on Tom Izzo’s 55th birthday on a mission. Although the game remained pretty close all throughout the half, MSU never lost focus. Durrell Summers led the way as he chipped in 8 points and 7 boards, including an two-handed alley-oop dunk on the opening play of the game from his teammate, Chris Allen.

As the time expired to end the half, MSU held a slim, 30-28, lead over the Wildcats.

Second Half

MSU sophomore, Delvon Roe, accumulated the ball off of a rebound as he quickly outletted the ball to his speedy point guard, Kalin Lucas, who pushed the ball up floor. Seeing his teammate on the wing, he pitched it to Chris Allen who took one dribble from the left baseline and crammed the ball into the basket for a powerful jam!

This dunk pushed the Spartans ahead, 38-31, at the 17:03 mark of the half and the Wildcats would never fully recover as the crowd was charged for the rest of the night from the great play.

“Show the replay, Show the replay,” the fans chanted as it was a delay in putting the highlight dunk on the scoreboard’s screen.

After it was finally shown, everyone yelled “OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

The Spartans would then cruise to a 79-70 lead over Northwestern, extending their perfect conference play to 9-0. Fans of the Spartans even sung “Happy Birthday” to Izzo all in unison when the game seemed to be fully out of reach.

“Happy Birthday, Coach Izzo…Happy Birtday to you,” everyone screamed.

Kalin Lucas (No. 1)

Durrell Summer’s was MSU’s high-scorer as he finished with 24 points and 10 boards while Kalin Lucas scored 23 points and dished out four assists.

John Shurna led the way for the Wildcats with 31 points, nailing six of his 13 three-point attempts.

Post Game

Standing in the locker room in front of his locker, Kalin Lucas took questions from the media. In the midst of all of the action, I managed to squeeze in as well as ask a couple questions of my own:

Eric Woodyard: What started to change in the second half, why did you start getting to the basket so easy?

Kalin Lucas: I think as far as the first half, they was trying to key on me a lot so I had to just try to make plays and get my teammates more involved then in the second half they wasn’t worried about me. They started worrying about the team more so coach just put me in the middle and I just started making plays and I just tried to keep attacking and I just started getting some buckets.

EW: What do you feel like is so different on this team this year than last year? Why have yall been able to dominate the conference?

KL: I think the one thing we’re doing, we’re just being more aggressive. We know that teams are gonna come at us so that’s the one thing we’re trying to do is be very aggressive and keep our confidence up and just keep playing good.

*These notes can also be viewed on slamonline.com!

There are certain things in life that never go out of style. In Michigan, no matter how bad both teams may be, it still generates a huge buzz as well as a level of excitement when the Michigan State Spartans step onto the hardwood to challenge the Michigan Wolverines.

Although the rivalry hasn’t meant much over the past few years, the rivalry is now renewed. The pots are sweetened with Kalin Lucas and Draymond Green representing East Lansing in that Spartan green and white and Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims trying to revitalize Wolverine basketball in Ann Arbor sporting the maize and blue.

Both teams have produced some of the all-time great teams in college basketball from the Flintstones to the Fab Five. Both teams have lifted championship banners in their home gyms. Both teams are representations of the Great Lakes State.

While Michigan leads the all-time series over Michigan State, 91-72, as well as a 56-28 advantage in all the games played on their home floor in Ann Arbor, MSU has dominated as of late. The Spartans have won 16 of the last 19 games including the last 6 of 9 in the Chrisler Arena. In the last meeting on Feb. 10, 2009, the Spartans won 54-42, so the Wolverines were looking for revenge.

In just the second sellout at the Chrisler Arena this season, the Michigan Wolverines hosted the Michigan State Spartans on ESPN on January 26th, 2010…

Pre Game

Walking into the arena, I could barely feel my arms as I carried in a huge television camera, a bag, and a tripod. This would mark the first time that I would attend a national game from a photographer’s perspective on my own since taking my intern this semester at the WMMT 3 television station out of Kalamazoo, MI. Despite the nervousness to produce good content, I was determined to excel and when I walked into the gym and seen the sell-out crowd all in the middle of the national anthem all of my emotions turned to excitement. It seems as though everybody had on yellow, with a touch a green in certain areas for the fans who made the drive from East Lansing. The arena reminded me of a big mustard bottle seriously.

Following the national anthem, the starters were introduced and ironically Manny Harris didn’t start for the Wolverines which left everyone a bit confused. Whether or not it was because of his suspension from last game, which UM head coach John Beilein insisted it was not after the game, was unclear initially.

The introduction of Tom Izzo generated lots of boos while Beilien’s name rung bells. From then, the ball was tipped and the excitement of Big Ten basketball began…

First Half

When Manny Harris entered the game after missing the first 3:12 in the half, 13,751 fans went crazy. As the skinny, Detroit native kneeled in front of the scorer’s table and finally stepped onto the court, you would have thought Michael Jackson walked into the gym it got that loud.

From that point on, the game really started as both teams played their best players. For the Spartans, Raymar Morgan did damage to anyone that was in his path. He connected on five of six shots for 13 points and pulled down 5 boards.

Despite Morgan’s domination, the Spartans entered the locker room at halftime down 27-25 in a typical Big Ten basketball game in which both teams shot well under 45% from the field, with defense being the main focus.

Halftime

After sitting courtside, being stuck with a huge camera in my palms, my legs began  to cramp up so I entered the tunnel to get some circulation in my legs. To my surprise I ran into two Detroit Pistons (Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko) who were taking a break from their busy season to come watch the action.

On sight, Stuckey noticed me from covering some of the games and we engaged in conversation. “This is a new experience for me, my school was nowhere near this big,” Stuckey said.

I also ran into one of the most famous Wolverines of all-time, Jalen Rose. Sporting a red corduroy suit, with a pair of gray, red, and white Air Force 1’s wrapped around his feet, I got a very quick word with him as everyone seemed to attempt to do the same.

SLAM: Has it been anything that Michigan has done to impress you in the first half so far?

Jalen Rose: They’re playing hard.  We’ve got to knock down a couple of more shot because we gave up a couple of uncontested lay-ups but for the most part we’re going up against the No. 5 ranked team so we’re in good shape so far.

SLAM: So you’ve gotta be pretty proud of their effort…

JR:  Oh yeah, I’m real proud of their effort. They’re playing real well, the crowd’s into the game. I don’t know how having two officials is gonna affect us in the second half because we’re going up against a physical State team but we’ll see.

SLAM: Obviously you’re from the D (aka Detroit), are you so are you going back after the game?

JR: Yeah, yeah, I still stay between Detroit and California

Second Half

As expected, the game heated up in the second half. Neither team could maintain a lead, as there were 17 lead changes in the period. The game would come down to two final possessions.

With 7.2 seconds remaining on the shot clock, Kalin Lucas stepped up to right side of the top of the key to receive a pass  from teammate Durrell Summers. Without hesitation, Lucas blew by Michigan’s Zack Novac with a quick left-handed dribble into the lane and pulled up for a mid-range jumper that slapped into the net for his twelfth point on the night. Leaving only 3.5 seconds remaining, MSU took the lead, 57-56.

After a foul from Draymond Green to stop the clock, only 1.5 seconds remained on the shot clock. Being pressured on the inbounds, Stu Douglass threw a picture perfect alley-oop to DeShawn Sims who couldn’t connect on the lay-up, partly because of his angle and the Spartans stampeded on the floor in victory yet again.

MSU is now 8-0 in conference play.

Post-Game

Wearing a black suit, white shirt, and a MSU green tie, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo took the podium for the press conference, happy that his team escaped yet another close game and proud of his point guard’s latest clutch heroics.

“In general, I thought we had big defensive stops down the stretch and that’s what you’ve gotta do to win big games and we had them and then we went to our go-to guy and if anybody ever wonders why I expect a lot out of him, it shouldnt take you long to figure out why,” Izzo said. “Because he can do it with the pass (and) he asked me to go into the middle of that zone and I just fall in love with guys that want to coach the team in a positive way and he came to me and made a couple of adjustments.”

*Stats

Raymar Morgan scored a game-high 20 points, connecting on 8 of his 9 field goals. Durrell Summers also chipped in 10 points and 10 boards as well as 5 assists for just his second career double-double.

DeShawn Sims led the Wolverines with 19 points and 5 rebounds while Manny Harris chipped in 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists.

*Next Game

MSU’s next game will be played against Northwestern on their home court on January 30th.

UM’s next game will be played once again in the Chrisler Arena, when they take on Iowa on January 30th as well.

*You can also check these notes out at SLAMonline.com!

dlaw

In an early season women’s exhibition contest, the Western Michigan University men’s basketball team sat in the student section to show their support.

Among the players from the men’s team sitting in the crowd was starting center, Don Lawson. After hearing a freshman on the squad complain about his knee and foot problems hindering him from playing defense, Lawson quickly cut him off.

“I could have given up when my heart was messed up, so that’s no excuse,” Lawson said.

Lawson was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, also known as afib, in early January last season, which left doctors doubtful if he would return for the remainder of the season. Afib is a disorder where the heart’s two small upper chambers quiver instead of effectively beating, causing the blood not to pump completely out of them, potentially causing clotting. This disorder is found in over 2 million Americans.

Instead of quitting and feeling down on himself after hearing this news, he kept a positive outlook. Fighting through an injury, in a sense, would be easy for WMU’s eighth leader in career blocked shots.

“I was just talking to my coaches and family back at home and I just can’t be a mental midget,” Lawson said.“A mental midget is someone who keeps going on about these injuries they have, and to have a heart injury takes a lot of work, so just being focused on trying to stay positive is the one major thing. And when they told me I could play again was just a joyous occasion.”

When Lawson returned to the Bronco lineup in February, after missing nearly a month of action, the 6 foot 10, 245-pound Chicago native gave a valiant effort to pick back up where he left off. He finished the season averaging 5.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game, which ranked him sixth in the MAC in blocks per game.

“Donald was really playing well at the point of time we lost him last year, and when he came back he was close to regaining his form at the end of the season but he wasn’t quite there,” WMU head coach Steve Hawkins said.
“Now to have him back I think he’s gonna be comfortable, because last year was his first year as a starter so I think he’s gonna be comfortable with his role there, and I think he’s gonna be comfortable with being healthy. So I think everything is leaning in the direction of him having a productive year.”

Lawson’s return to the lineup at full strength not only has his head coach excited, but his teammates as well.

“Last year we struggled a lot with our inside presence and our team was guard-orientated so it made it tough on people like Shawntese [Gary] and David Kool because by not having nobody in the inside everybody cheated out,” senior guard Martelle McLemore said. “By Don being back he can provide that post presence so they gotta play us honest both ways which is exactly what we need for us guards.”

This offseason, Lawson has been working on his game harder than ever as he seeks to lead WMU to a Mid-American Conference championship in his senior season.

After having to watch his team struggle with implementing a host of new pieces to the roster last season, Lawson plans to rejuvenate the organization while putting the team on his back.

“I’m just trying to straighten them out and get them prepared for this experience that they’re getting ready to go through,” Lawson said.
“It gets intense real fast and some of the pressures and game situations, you can’t recreate them so we have to make the practices way harder than the games.”

*this post can also be viewed at westernherald.com!