Seniors to be Honored in Final Home Game

Each of the seniors have had different personal experiences while donning the Green and White, but on Sunday all of them will have the same experience. One that is filled with joy, pride, and maybe even tears.

EAST LANSING – Sunday marks the last game at the Breslin Center for the season, but more importantly it signifies the last game in East Lansing for the four seniors on the Michigan State roster as they look to walk off the Breslin floor for the last time with a victory over the Purdue Boilermakers.

The four seniors have compiled a 96-38 record in their careers and have gone 58-5 at home. A group of seniors that have played a huge role in getting the Spartans back to where this program thinks they belong, on top of the Big Ten.

This is a group of seniors that didn't expect to be playing their last game at the Breslin Center at the same time.

Goran Suton, Marquise Gray and Idong Ibok arrived on campus as a part of MSU Coach Tom Izzo's 2004 recruiting class, which included Drew Neitzel. All three players were red-shirted in their first years and sat as the Spartans reached the Final Four.

Travis Walton was recruited with Maurice Joseph in the 2005 freshman class. (Joseph has since transferred to Vermont.) Walton, along with the three players from the 2004 class, have taken the responsibility of being leaders on this team, and they have developed friendships that will last a lifetime.

"We've been here the longest. We've seen it all, done it all. (I've) Been here with a lot of different groups of guys," Ibok told GSN recently. "With Me, ‘G', and ‘Quise' being here the longest and then coming up with Travis. And Travis, Mojo left, so he was kind of stuck with us. It's been fun. We're the best of friends, and we're gonna have a lot of memories and experiences to share later on in life from Michigan State."

For Ibok, Sunday will be a little different, because he will not have his family there to walk out with him, due to the difficulty to get a travelers visa from Nigeria to the United States, but a member of the Spartan family will be there to accompany him out onto the floor.

"Mrs. Izzo has offered to walk out there with me," Ibok said. "I think it'll be only appropriate, with the amount of help and support I've gotten from her and coach Izzo's family, that she does that with me on Sunday."

Ibok's roommate Marquise Gray was highly touted when he came out of Flint Beecher High School, but a series of injuries drastically altered his development.

Gray has shown flashes of what he people expected to be, but he just has not been consistent. Gray mentioned that his only regret was sustaining those injuries, even though they were out of his control.

This season has been difficult for Gray, as he has seen his minutes dwindle as freshmen Delvon Roe and Draymond Green have seen their time on the floor rise.

Coach Izzo openly criticized him early in the season. Through all of the ups and downs, Gray has stayed positive and puts his experience at MSU in perspective.

"I'm just fortunate and blessed. I thank God that I had the opportunity to play at a big time school like this," Gray said. "The city I'm from, there's not a lot of guys that make it out. I haven't completely made it out yet, but I think I'm on the right path."

Izzo noted that he still feels that Gray has a lot to give this team. Time is quickly running out for the Flint native, as there is less than a month left in his college career. Gray has one more opportunity to play well on his home floor, and he has thought about this day often.

"A lot, since we lost to Memphis last year in the tournament. I don't sleep really," Gray explained. "In the summer, I would get up and go over to the Duff (football building) early and just work out. Do some cardio or do extra stuff to try to keep my mind off of it. Finally…the strength and conditioning coach asked me what was wrong with me, and I said this is it."

Goran Suton and Travis Walton will get the loudest ovations on Sunday and it will be well deserved. Suton has been a steady force on the block for the Green and White, and Walton has established himself as the leader of this team since he was a sophomore.

The two players have been roommates for three years and it has been an experience that both of them will always cherish. Travis can be very boisterous, but his intensity and passion on and off the floor has benefited Suton well.

"Travis is a great roommate," Suton said. "Him pairing up with me maybe had a lot to do with my success as well, because he's one of the guys that won't let me sleep. He just makes sure I'm up to go to the gym with him or just make sure I'm working out."

Walton has leadership qualities that many players would love to have, but it is just something that certain people are born with. Walton's importance to this program has been vital as he has been pretty much the only vocal leader on this team. Being the captain for the one of the most successful programs in all of college basketball hasn't fully hit Walton yet.

"No, I really ain't ever thought about that," Walton stated. "I think you think about that when you leave. That's some bragging rights you know. I played for Tom Izzo at Michigan State when we were in our best era. Right now, I think you just take it as a blessing."

Before Walton was the leader of this team, he was a freshman on a team that included stars like Paul Davis, Maurice Ager, and Shannon Brown. His freshman year didn't start off exactly how he would like as it did provide him with one of his most embarrassing moments of his basketball career.

"I think it was an exhibition game…and coach put me at the end of the bench in front of everybody," Walton explained. "I sat in the middle of the bench at first and he walked up in front of the whole crowd and said "get to the end of the bench!" I had to sit by all of the managers. That was kind of a funny moment."

Each of the seniors have had different personal experiences while donning the Green and White, but on Sunday all of them will have the same experience. One that is filled with joy, pride, and maybe even tears.


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