The Inauspicious End Of The Draymond Green Era At Michigan State: A Gut Reaction
Congratulations are in order for the Louisville Cardinals, who knocked off number one seed Michigan State and are on an absolute roll as of late. But you've got to pour out some of whatever you're drinking for Draymond Green, whose incredible college career came to an abrupt end tonight.
A brief run down of Green's tangibles: Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year (2010), Big Ten Player of the Year (2012), MSU's all-time leading rebounder, and one of only three players (the other two being Oscar Robertson and fellow Spartan Magic Johnson) to record multiple triple-doubles in the NCAA tournament.
And the intangibles: the heart and soul of the Michigan State basketball team over the last two years. Green was a dominating big man who stretched the floor for the Spartans; he could clean the glass as easily as he could step out for a devastating three. He did everything for the squad, from leading it to the Big Ten championship to cleaning the floor with a mop during the NCAA tourney.
And, perhaps most tellingly, he was beloved by one of the sports greatest coaches, Tom Izzo."[H]e may be the best player in college basketball because of what he does,” Izzo said of Green recently. In the same story, Green was said to "live out of Izzo's office," which is either kind of weird or very touching. But either way, you can't deny the close relationship between Izzo and Green, which means something in a world of many one-and-done college basketball players.
With all this in mind, Michigan State was expected to make a run to the Final Four this year. Izzo had never accomplished anything less when his team was a number one seed, and the Spartans were said to have the easiest path out of all the top seeds. Failing all else, you might have expected Green to put the team on his back and make it happen.
But that was before they ran into the white-hot Cardinals and the equally savvy Rick Pitino. The Cardinals shut down the Spartans, holding them to the lowest point total ever for a number one seed. Green had 16 boards, but just 13 points on 5-16 shooting. The team as a whole was sloppy, and it was truly an embarrassing exit for the first number one seed to go down in the 2012 tournament. Green was taken out with under a minute remaining, in order to get the ovation he deserved.
We tend, at the end of majestic lives and careers, to focus on the final chapter as if that was the whole story. But let us not forget the talent and heart of Draymond Green, who may not experience the same type of success in the pros that he did at the collegiate level. From his leadership to his bruising yet sweet-shooting game, he's a example of a truly great basketball player.
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