MSU's Eron Harris cherishes final Breslin Center moment
East Lansing —Tom Izzo talks all the time about memory-making moments, so when he had the chance to create one for Eron Harris on Sunday, he wasn’t about to miss his chance.
Harris, of course, was lost for the season to a knee injury suffered last weekend at Purdue, shelving the senior guard for the remainder of his Michigan State career, a blow that shook the entire team, from freshmen right up to the head coach.
So with Senior Day set against Wisconsin on Sunday, Izzo wanted to make sure he got the former West Virginia transfer on the court with a chance to kiss the Spartan logo at midcourt.
“Senior Day is the toughest day of the year for me,” Izzo said. “Always has been and probably always will be until I’m done. But last night I called my equipment guy, Dave Pruder, and said, ‘Don’t tell anybody but if we get way ahead or way behind I’m putting Eron in the game and it’s gonna be his one shining moment.’
“We were able to do that and it felt like all that is good about my job.”
Michigan State was in that position because it had the game in hand in the final minute, eventually beating No. 16 Wisconsin, 84-74.
So, with 11 seconds on the clock, in came Harris. The Spartans inbounded the ball and Matt McQuaid traveled on purpose to give Harris the chance to kiss the logo, just as fellow seniors Alvin Ellis and Matt Van Dyk had.
“He told me to put my jersey on today, so I assumed at some point he would try and get me in the game so I could kiss the Spartan head,” Harris said. “I was just waiting until that time came and thankfully our team got a good enough lead to where I could do that.”
That was the final highlight of the day for Harris, however. The first came before the game.
As the teams finished their warm-ups and the American flag was draped across the court, Harris mother, Marveda Saunders, came on to sing the national anthem. It was a moving rendition that brought Harris to tears.
“I didn’t know they were going to do that for me,” Harris said. “I had thrown it out there like a week ago that I could get my mom to sing the national anthem, that would be cool on my senior day. To actually put thought into that … they didn’t let me know. I was like, ‘Wow. Crazy.’
“It was like a dream come true. I want some people to hear my mom’s voice because she doesn’t have a platform to let people hear her voice, but she has beautiful voice and I’m thankful she got to get out there. ... I love my mom so much and it brought me to tears. I started to think about everything we’ve been through to get to this point and I got real emotional. It was good to let that out.”
The senior day was equally emotional for Ellis and Van Dyk, something that was not lost on the young Spartans.
“Everyone was emotional since the day started,” freshman Miles Bridges said. “Coach Izzo has been crying all day and I’ve never seen Alvin cry before and I saw him crying today. It was a lot of emotion but it was good atmosphere. We’re a brotherhood, a family. That’s what families do. We care about our leaders. It’s just a great all-around program.”
Not so generous
Entering the week, Michigan State had turned the ball over 73 times in four games, a number that was alarming this late in the season.
On Thursday in a win over Nebraska, the Spartans gave it away nine times and on Sunday gave it up just 11 times.
“That’s major,” freshman guard Cassius Winston said. “I just think we’re learning. We’re putting things together, being more patient, knowing the things we can and can’t do. It’s been paying off and it’s helping us a lot.”
Michigan State also had its best game from the free-throw line, making 21 of 23 for 91.3 percent.
“There are a lot of things we did well,” Izzo said. “We needed a good game in a lot of areas and we got a good game in a lot of areas. Rebounding, defense, turnovers, assists. We had 18 assists. Just did a lot of good things and couldn’t be prouder of my guys.”