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December 15, 2012

Notes & Jokes from Jenison


EAST LANSING - In the moments after the Michigan State Alumni Game at Jenison Field House, Friday, no one seemed to want to leave the court.

Dozens of players milled around, congratulated each other, and just hung out a while.

No one summed it up better than Steve Smith.

"We have the best basketball fraternity in the country," said Smith, who was an All-America at Michigan State in 1990 and 1991 and a long-time NBA veteran, and now a successful broadcaster. "We have guys out here that blazed the trail for us. I've made some unbelievable friends. From Jenison to Breslin, the Spartan basketball family, and all the fans here, it was great to be back."

Notes & Observations

  • Darryl Johnson, a slick scoring lead guard from Flint in the mid-1980s, nailed three 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the game. Born scorer. He netted 42 points against BYU in December of 1986.

  • Kelvin Torbert has lost about 39 inches off of his formerly 40-inch vertical. But the shot release was true for a pair of 3s in the early going. He finished with 8 points.

  • Eight former NBA players and 12 former All-Big Ten players participated in the game.

  • Pig Miller provided some entertaining moments with a few theatrical pump-fakes along the base line.

  • Current Spartan assistant coach Dwayne Stephens had the best "Old Man Game" moment of the night with a fall-away bank shot. Dane Fife, watching from the sideline, hooted at Stephens all the way back upcourt - which took quite a while.

    "D.J. made some shots," Tom Izzo said. "Nix almost fell over in his chair when D.J. made that one. But I didn't like D.J.'s defense."

    Stephens also banked in a 3-pointer - probably from all of that practice of missing shots on purpose in orchestrating the war drill during regular work days.

  • Matt Steigenga punched one in for 40-year-olds everywhere when he got loose on a breakaway and soared in for a picturesque dunk that some current Spartans would be proud to own. Steigenga also drove for a dunk along the baseline. Stupid natural talent on that guy.

  • Ralph Walker managed to have his shorts on frontwards.

  • Players who most closely resembled the way they looked when they were in college: Steigenga, Andre Hutson, Aloysius Anagonye, Deuce Wiley and Antonio Smith.

  • Guys who had way too much fun playing defense: Antonio Smith and Travis Walton. No surprise there. Those two were equally sadistic when captaining MSU to Final Fours.

  • Players who looked the least like they did when in college (not counting the really old guys): Kelvin Torbert and Andre Rison.

  • Oldest guy who played with the youngest spirit: Benny White, who is currently an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan.

  • An all walk-on lineup made an appearance for a 4-minute shift, featuring Anthony Hamo, Mat Ishbia, Steve Cherry and Brian Westrick. [Former scholarship guy Jason Cowboy Andreas played center for that lineup.]

  • There was actually a :24-second violation in this game. It came when Tim Bograkos, Jon Garavaglia, David Thomas, Morris Peterson and Austin Thornton had the bright idea to run the Heathcote dribble weave. They just ran it too long, while trying not to crack up about it.

  • Attendance was announced at 6,500. It was full, even up to the corners.

  • Give a helmet sticker to public address announcer Terry Braverman. He was in top form, and occasionally put a Rucker Park feel on things by directing the proceedings. For instance, he bellowed out on one occasion, "Can you guys get Terry Donnelly a shot?"

    Sure enough, a few seconds later, Donnelly had the ball, and room, and drained a 17-footer from the right wing. Shades of Salt Lake City '79.

  • And then there was the time near the end of the game when Braverman pointed out that Andre Rison hadn't yet scored. Braverman called for Rison to get the ball and score.

    Seconds later, Rison had it on the right wing, and nailed a 3-pointer from NBA range.

    Then Rison made a steal, led a fastbreak and delivered a drop pass between his legs to Adam Wolfe for a lay-up.

  • Wolfe finished with 11 points. Not bad for a guy who is supposed to still be out with a career-ending injury. [The last time we saw him in a Spartan uniform, he ravaged his hamstring during a game at Penn State as a sophomore in 2002. He never played again.]

    What could have been? Wolfe averaged a sizzling 46 percent from 3-point range during his shortened sophomore season. The 6-foot-9 shooter had 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots against Nicholls State that year. After his freshman year, he led the Big Ten Foreign Touring team in scoring and rebounding. But his college career ended shortly after becoming a starter.

  • Denzel Valentine's mother had a photo on her phone of a drawing Denzel had made when he was 4-years-old. It was a drawing of a basketball player with a green jersey, wearing No. 14.

    "That's a drawing of Charlie Bell," she said. "Denzel drew it when he was very young."

    Denzel says he doesn't remember drawing it. Mrs. Valentine showed Charlie after the game, when players were milling around the court. He nodded and smiled.

    Family.

  • "I remember when Denzel was a baby," said Steve Smith.

  • All-time Spartan football great Lorenzo White was in the building. He is in town for his son's graduation at Central Michigan University.

    "I had to come to Jenison to make sure Dre (Rison) didn't tell me any lies about what he did in this game," White said. "I had to see it for myself."

    Lo White and Andre still talk quite a bit?

    "Yeah, every couple of weeks or so," White said.

    Especially during football season. The losses hurt those guys as much as they hurt the rest of us.

    "We talk a lot about ... football things that we need to do better," White said with a diplomatic smile.

  • It's probably best that Skiles wasn't here, so that no one had to separate him and Donnelly again.

  • Tom Izzo spoke to the crowd during a late stoppage in play and thanked everyone.

    "I want thank not only these players publicly, because it's unbelievable that they all came back," he said. "We're going to have a little function at my house tonight. To think that all these guys came back is awesome.

    "But what's really awesome is to think that all of you came here. And I want to thank each and every one of you. It brings back memories to look up in the corners and see this place packed. So give yourself a hand. The players appreciate it. Michigan State appreciates it and I really appreciate it."

    Unofficial Scoring:

    White Team: (125)
    David Thomas 14
    Charie Bell 13
    Morris Peterson 13
    Adam Wolfe 11
    Delco Rowley 9
    Austin Thornton 8
    Kelvin Torbert 8
    Antonio Smith 6
    Dujuan Wiley 6
    Steve Cherry 5
    Jon Zulauf 4
    Idong Ibok 3
    Andre Rison 3
    Tim Bograkos 4
    Mateen Cleaves 4
    Jon Garavaglia 4
    Gerald Gilkie 2
    Anthony Hamo 2
    David Hart 2
    Andre Hutson 2

    Dark Team: (118)
    Ray Weathers 18
    Steve Smith 13
    Isaiah Dahlman 11
    Darryl Johnson 11
    Aloysius Anagonye 9
    Travis Walton 8
    Kevin Willis 8
    Matt Steigenga 6
    Dwayne Stephens 5
    Kris Weshinskey 5
    Mike Peplowski 4
    Ralph Walker 3
    Jason Aertz 3
    Daimon Beathea 3
    Bill Cawood 2
    Terry Donnelly 2
    Anthony Miller 2
    Edgar Wilson 2





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