Michigan State honored to play in Veterans Classic

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State has been involved in its share of basketball games involving the military, which continues Friday night at the Veterans Classic.

Michigan State faces Navy in the second game of a doubleheader in Annapolis, Maryland, following Tennessee and Virginia Commonwealth.

It's something the Spartans have experienced plenty in recent years, facing North Carolina aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego in 2011 and playing Connecticut at Ramstein Air Base in Germany in 2012.

And coach Tom Izzo has enjoyed every moment.

"It's kind of caught fire where everybody's getting involved now, and I'm thankful that we were part of some of the first things that happened in this," he said. "It's been great. I'm looking forward to that experience, and I think my players are too."

The Spartans spent Thursday touring and taking part in many of the day-to-day activities at the Naval Academy.

It was especially meaningful for senior guard Travis Trice, whose grandfather Robert Pritchett attended the Academy, as did his uncle Matt Pritchett.

Both are expected to be at the game tonight, but Trice is appreciative he has been able to take part in so many games honoring the military.

"You get to see every aspect of it," said Trice, who played in both previous military games. "You get to see the guys on duty that first year and in the second year in Germany you see the bad end of what could happen (with the wounded warriors). Now you see people our age going into it and in college."

Izzo hopes that leaves an impression on his player as they begin the regular season.

"You're around people that are so structured and disciplined," Izzo said, "and then you start going to a couple of the events that they're going to have us going to, where you maybe have a better appreciation that college life is a little different there than it is at your own institution. I think it's a positive."

Michigan State at Navy

Tip-off: 9 Friday, Alumni Hall, Annapolis, Md.


Outlook: This is the third time in four years Michigan State opens on the road. All three games have been military appreciation events. ... This is the second meeting between the teams, with the Midshipmen dropping the host Spartans, 91-90, in overtime on Nov. 29, 1986. ... Navy returns five starters from last year's team that went 9-21. ... Navy coach Ed DeChellis went 4-11 against Michigan State during his time at Penn State.