Golden Eagles To Face a New But Familiar Foe

The Marquette Golden Eagle basketball team and staff gathered to watch the NCAA Tournament Selection Show downtown yesterday, but after the field of 65 was announced, they turned thier attention to the Michigan State Spartans and headed off to work to start preparing for the Thursday matchup.

Everyone that had gathered at Marquette's selection show party expected the Golden Eagles' name to be called. The surprise came when their opponent was named – Michigan State. That is a team that is all too familiar for the Golden Eagle players. No, they haven't played the Spartans, but their Head Coach, Tom Crean came from Michigan State and they didn't have a great deal of game times that conflicted so by chance, they happened to see them quite a few times this year. "I have watched a lot of their games this year and a lot of the other guys have too, we know what they do and we'll definitely be prepared for them so we'll just take it all one game at a time."

Tom Crean may feel uneasy about playing against his former boss and close friend Tom Izzo, but Crean knows he has to look at them the same way he looks at any other foe. "They are unbelievably well coached, we will start with that. They execute. As far as getting into personnel we will wait until we watch the films and we'll talk about that the next time we get together. Execution, hard nosed, play aggressively, not going to beat themselves – all of those things apply. There is no question about it."

So much has been said about Michigan State's style of play in the low post, but that didn't seem to bother Marquette's big men. "I grew up watching the Big Ten. I never had my mind and heart set on playing in the Big Ten, but I know the style of play and understand what they are about – defense, toughness and rebounding, it will be a challenge." Said Marquette senior Mike Kinsella.

Marquette junior Ousmane Barro added, "People say that the Big Ten is physical down low, but there is a lot of banging down low in the Big East with Pitt, Georgetown and Villanova, so I don't see a difference. I see it just like another Big East game. I just want to get there and play."

While the post play garners most of the attention when talking about Michigan State, junior Dan Fitzgerald knows that the preparation for playing the Spartans starts on the perimeter. "We already know that Neitzel is their go to guy, so we will focus on him and expand and go from there."

The members and staff of Marquette's team enjoyed the selection show party on Sunday, but their celebration came to a screeching halt as the team knew there was no time to waste. As soon as their name was called, Director of Basketball Operations Todd Townsend and Manager Julian Swartz headed to the office so to start preparing for the team to get to work. Point Guard Dominic James explained it, "There are no easy games in the tournament. Anybody can beat anybody, and you have to take what you get. We'll be ready, we're going to go to work as soon as possible and try to get a win."

And with that, the team headed to the Al McGuire Center to start getting more familiar with Michigan State, a foe they know pretty well, without ever having played them.

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