Michigan State University is represented by the Michigan State Spartans when it comes to men’s basketball. There are a lot of people out there who should be familiar with the name to some extent, seeing as how it is one of the best-performing college basketball teams that exist. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Michigan State Spartans basketball team.
1. First Coach Had to Multitask
The first coach of the Michigan State Spartans was a man named Charles Bemies. In short, he was the first athletic director of what was then called the Michigan Agricultural College. As a result, Bemies was responsible for coaching not just the basketball team but also the football team and the track team.
2. Second Coach Is the One Coach to Be Undefeated
In time, a coach was found for the Michigan State Spartans. Said individual was named George Denman. Even now, he is the one coach for the college basketball team who has an undefeated record with 11 wins and 0 losses, which happened over the course of two seasons. Besides this, it is interesting to note that Denman set a record for the biggest margin of victory as well with a 102-3 score against Alma College.
3. First Win Over a Ranked Opponent Under Pete Newell
Under Pete Newell, the Michigan State Spartans managed their first win versus a ranked opponent, which was the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that was ranked no. 14 in the 1951 to 1952 season. With that said, Newell tends to be better-known for his other basketball achievements at other places, with an excellent example being the time when he coached the U.S. team to the gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics.
4. First Appearance in the Final Four Under Forddy Anderson
In 1957, Forddy Anderson brought the Michigan State Spartans to their first NCAA appearance. Furthermore, it turned out to be the college basketball team’s first time in the Final Four as well.
5. First NCAA Championship in 1979
Anderson led the Michigan State Spartans to two NCAA appearances as well as two Conference Championships. However, it wasn’t until Jud Heathcote that the Michigan State Spartans managed to win their first NCAA Championship in 1979. Since that time, the college basketball team has managed one other such win, which was in 2000 under the current coach Tom Izzo.
6. Used to Be Called the Aggies
Once upon a time, the school’s teams were called the Aggies because the school was still a agricultural school. Eventually, the school that would become Michigan State University changed its name to the Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, which prompted a change of name for its teams.
7. Spartans Supplanted the Staters
Initially, the plan was to call the teams by the name of Staters. However, a local sports journalists thought that the name was too cumbersome, which is why he started using the name Spartans instead. Since the Spartans was so much more heroic-sounding, it managed to catch on, thus enabling it to supplant its predecessor.
8. The Fight Song Had to Be Changed
The fight song of the Michigan State Spartans is “Victory for MSU,” which was once named the “MSU Fight Song” until it reached its 100th anniversary. When the name of the teams were changed from the Aggies to the Staters and then the Spartans, there were some changes made to the lyrics, which used to refer to the school’s status as an agricultural school.
9. There Are Multiple Versions of the Mascot
There are multiple versions of the Michigan State mascot, who is named Sparty. For instance, there was the statue that was made for the school by Leonard D. Jungwirth in 1943, which had to be cast in terra cotta because of rationing measures in place during the Second World War. As a result, the original statue has since been replaced by a bronze replica so that it could be moved indoors where it is sheltered from the elements.
10. There Is a Gruff Sparty
Primarily, most people will be familiar with a clean-shaven version of the Sparty mascot because that is the one who shows up at basketball games and other sporting events. However, it is interesting to note that there is a “Gruff” Sparty with whiskers as well, who tends to show up in printed materials.