Steve Smith 'almost' played at BG...

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Steve Smith 'almost' played at BG...

Postby Falcon Commander » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:34 am

March 2017,
Coach L discussion on his Miami Hurricanes vs Tom Izzo Sparty NCAA Tourney match up....
(Info from 'Spartan Nation')

Coach Larranaga has had a long and distinguished career in college basketball. His 609-402 record speaks for itself. He tried to stay political and polite when asked about playing Michigan State and his friend Tom Izzo. “We're very excited to be here in Tulsa and competing in the NCAA tournament against the Michigan State Spartans. We have the utmost respect for Tom Izzo, his staff and their program. Tom and I have had a very good relationship since my days at Bowling Green, and my team is looking forward to competing against them.”

Most Spartans fans might now know that the Hurricanes head coach has had such a long history with Izzo. He expounded on it adding, “I took the head coach job at Bowling Green State University in 1986 and Tom was an assistant at Michigan State at the time. And my first encounter with them was when we identified a player named Steve Smith, who was out of Detroit, and my staff and I watched him play. We started recruiting him very, very hard. And we went to Steve's home in September of that senior year of his. And at that point in time we offered Steve a scholarship and he told me he was going to visit, that he was very seriously considering Bowling Green, unless -- I said, What do you mean, Steve? Unless what? He said, Unless Michigan State offers me a scholarship because they're my favorite. Magic Johnson is my hero and if they offer me that's where I'm going.”

He went on to add about the ICONIC Spartans recruiting process that, “And I don't know if Tom would repeat the story like that, because I think he saw Steve play that next weekend and Steve had like 47 points, and he went to Steve's home by himself, without Coach Heathcote or from the scholarship. And I believe, if I heard the story correctly, Steve Smith committed to him on the spot. But that was our first encounter. And then our teams played.”

But the history is not just connected to Steve Smith. It goes even deeper. “My Bowling Green team played against Michigan State several times, and then when Tom was named the head coach, I just was so impressed with the job he did immediately. He just took them to a whole other level. And then for those of you who don't know Stan Heath was my assistant coach at the time. Tom hired him back in 19 -- I believe that was '94 or '95. And then five years later they won the National Championship together. And that got Stan's head coaching career started and jumped from Michigan State to Kent State. So known Tom an awfully long time and have the utmost respect for him.”

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Re: Steve Smith 'almost' played at BG...

Postby Schadenfreude » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:45 am

They left out the part where Larranaga's Falcon teams beat Sparty (and Smith) two years in a row, if memory serves.
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