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@GTMBK Non-Conference Preview - Orlando Classic

Sept. 26, 2014


Each week up until the beginning of basketball season, takes a look at an opponent on Georgia Tech’s non-conference schedule. This week, Tech’s possible second-round opponents in the Orlando Classic on Nov. 28, Michigan State and Rider.



Date:  November 28, 2014

Location: East Lansing, Mich.

Conference: Big Ten

Home arena: Breslin Center (14,797)

2013-14 Record: 29-9 overall, 12-6 in MAAC (3rd place), 12th in NCAA RPI

Post-Season: NCAA Elite Eight, lost to Connecticut 60-54

NCAA Championship Appearances: 28 (last in 2014)

All-time series record: Tied 2-2 (first meeting 1/4/1947)

Head coach: Tom Izzo (entering 20th season, 468-187)

Starters returning/lost: 2/3

Top scorer returning: Branden Dawson (11.2)

Top rebounder returning: Branden Dawson (8.3)


Quick preview for 2014-15


When the Spartans take the court as the defending Big Ten champions, they will do so without their top two scorers and assist leader from a year ago. The absences of Gary Harris, Adrean Payne and Keith Appling will be tough to absorb, but the Spartans should still contend in the Big Ten. Michigan State does return two starters from last year’s team with Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine. Dawson led the Spartans in total rebounds a year ago despite missing ten games and averaged 11.2 points per game to lead returning players. Meanwhile Denzel Valentine quietly finished third in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.08) while manning the frontcourt. Senior Travis Trice will chair the backcourt after playing second fiddle to now graduated Keith Appling. As the only two scholarship seniors, Dawson and Trice will be asked to lead an otherwise inexperienced Spartan squad in 2014-15.


Quick recap of 2013-14


The 2013-14 season was another banner year for Michigan State basketball.  The Spartans secured their fourth Big Ten tournament championship after knocking off a pair of top-15 teams in Wisconsin and Michigan in the tournament’s final two rounds. In the NCAA Tournament the Spartans were one of three Big 10 teams to reach the Elite Eight which led all conferences. In the East Regional final the Spartans surrendered a nine-point second half lead and fell 60-54 to the eventual national champions, the Connecticut Huskies. The Elite Eight loss was just the second in Izzo’s eight appearances and extended the Spartans’ Final Four-less streak to four years (the longest under Izzo).


Greatest program accomplishment


2000 National Championship – The 2000 National Championship team ranks near the top if not at the top in Michigan State basketball lore. The 1999-00 Spartans struggled early in the non-conference schedule, going 9-4 including a disappointing loss to Wright State to close out 1999. But with the turn of the millennium the Spartans fortunes turned as well. Michigan State compiled a 13-3 Big Ten record in route to a runner-up regular season finish in the conference. The Spartans closed out the regular season with a 114-63 thrashing of archrival Michigan on senior night to secure a perfect 14-0 home record. The Spartans continued their strong play into the postseason by winning three straight to claim the Big Ten tournament title. The Spartans kept it going in the NCAA Tournament with six straight wins (including an 89-76 win over the Florida Gators in the title game) to secure the program’s second national championship. The Spartans season-ending 11-game win streak included 10 double-digit victories. In hindsight, the 1999-00 Spartans may have been the most talented Michigan State team of all time with three first round picks: Mateen Cleaves, Morris Patterson and Jason Richardson. Of interest to Georgia Tech fans, Brian Gregory, now in his fourth season as head coach at Georgia Tech, was an assistant on the Michigan State coaching staff that year.


Greatest player in program history


Earvin “Magic” Johnson – Magic Johnson may have only worn the Green and White for two seasons, but Magic means more to the Michigan State basketball program than any other player. In his brief Spartan career, Magic averaged over 17 points per game, seven assists per game and seven rebounds per game. As a freshman Johnson led the Spartans to a Big Ten championship and followed that up with a National Championship in his sophomore season. In the 1979 National Championship game against Indiana State, Johnson faced off against his archrival Larry Bird in what is now considered one of the most iconic matchups in college basketball history. After winning the national title and being named a consensus first team All-American, Johnson opted to forego his final two years at Michigan State and enter the NBA draft. He was selected first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers and would play his entire 13 years in L.A. When all was said and done, Magic finished his career a three-time NBA MVP, a five-time NBA Champion and a Naismith Hall of Famer.


Place to visit on campus or in the city


Beaumont Tower – Erected in 1928 the Beaumont Tower serves as an icon on the Michigan State campus in East Lansing. The tower dominates the skyline of north campus at 104 feet tall. Its namesake belongs to John W. Beaumont who supplied the plans for the tower in hopes of preserving the university’s rich history. The Beaumont Tower itself specifically serves as a memorial to College Hall, the first structure in the history of the school.



Date:  November 28, 2014

Location: Lawrenceville, N. J.

Conference: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Home arena: Alumni Gymnasium (1,650)

2013-14 Record: 14-17 overall, 9-11 in MAAC (8th place), 199th in NCAA RPI

Post-Season: MAAC Quarterfinals, lost to Iona 94-71

NCAA Championship Appearances: 3 (last in 1994)

All-time series record: Rider leads 2-0 (first meeting 1/2/1931)

Head coach: Kevin Baggett (entering 3rd season, 33-32)

Starters returning/lost: 3/2

Top scorer returning: Jimmie Taylor (12.1)

Top rebounder returning: Zedric Sadler (3.9)


Quick preview for 2014-15


Coming off a disappointing sixth place finish in the MAAC, the Rider Broncs are looking to rebound in 2014-15. At the forefront of the bounce back effort is sophomore Jimmie Taylor III. Taylor led the MAAC in three-point shooting a year ago and is tasked with assuming a larger role following the departure of senior leaders Daniel Stewart and Anthony Myles. Complementing the Taylor’s sharpshooting are big men Kahlil Thomas and Shawn Valentine. As a freshman Thomas started 20 games a year ago and averaged six points, but played fewer than 20 minutes per game – a figure that will likely need to increase for the 2014-15 season. Similarly Valentine, a junior forward, served as a role player in his first two seasons at Rider but will be expected to become a fixture in the frontcourt after the Broncs finished near the bottom of the conference in rebounding at 33.5 per game.


Quick recap of 2013-14


Following a 19-win season and a fourth-place selection in the MAAC preseason poll, the Rider Broncs took a step backwards, finishing 14-17 overall and below .500 in the MAAC for the first time since 2006-07. The Broncs did boast three All-MAAC performers in second-teamer Daniel Stewart, third-teamer Anthony Myles and all-rookie teamer Jimmie Taylor III. Stewart and Myles wrapped up their careers ranked in the top 20 among Rider’s all-time scorers. Meanwhile Taylor’s 12.1 scoring average in his freshman season set the stage for what Rider hopes to be yet another high-scoring career. As a team the Broncs excelled both beyond the arc and at the charity stripe ranking among the leaders in the MAAC in each category. On the flip side, Rider struggled to contest shots as opposing shooters hit 47.0 percent of their attempts. The season-ending 94-71 loss to Iona epitomized the defensive shortcomings as the Gaels shot a back-breaking 59.6 percent from the floor.


Greatest program accomplishment


Back to Back NEC Championships (1993 & 1994) – Rider has reached the Division I NCAA Tournament just three times in the program’s history, but two of those three came back to back in 1993 and 1994. In 1993 the Broncs were led by their all-time leading scorer Darrick Suber. In addition to his 2,219 career points, Suber also owns claim to the most iconic moment in Rider basketball history: The Shot. On national television in the Northeast Conference championship game against Wagner University, Suber drained the game winning basket at the buzzer to punch the Broncs’ ticket to the Big Dance. For an encore, the Broncs repeated as NEC champions the next season but did so without the heroic Suber. Instead Rider relied upon young freshman Charles Smith. Smith led the Broncs in scoring with 20 points in the 62-56 championship win over Monmouth to clinch back to back NEC titles and a second straight NCAA Tournament berth. Rider was ousted in the first round in both 1993 and 1994 courtesy of college basketball bluebloods Kentucky and Connecticut.


Greatest player in program history


Jason Thompson – As a four-year starter at Rider, Jason Thompson produced arguably the most impressive numbers in the history of Rider basketball. Over the course of 122 games Thompson scored over 2,000 points (a feat accomplished by only two other Broncs) and holds the all-time record for rebounds with 1,171. Thompson is one of just 105 players in the history of the NCAA to have over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. During his career Thompson received numerous awards, including 2008 MAAC Player of the Year, two-time MAAC Defensive Player of the Year and the 2008 Haggerty Award (given to the All-Metropolitan New York Division I men’s basketball player of the year). Thompson is the only Rider Bronc to receive the Haggerty Award in its 79-year history. Following his senior year Thompson entered the NBA draft and was selected 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings, making Thompson the only Rider Bronco to play in the NBA.


Place to visit on campus or in the city


Cadwalader Park – Cadwalader Park is considered the “crown jewel” of Trenton, N.J. At over 100 acres of green space and over 125 years of age, Cadwalader Park is Trenton’s largest and oldest park.  The park’s namesake comes from Thomas Cadwalader, who was the chief burgess (or mayor) of Trenton. The park’s most distinguishing trait is its designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted designed countless U.S. parks including New York City’s iconic Central Park.



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