Ramstein Air Base, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, will host the Michigan State Spartans and the UConn Huskies, in the first ever Division I basketball game held in Europe. This will be the first game for the Huskies without legendary coach Jim Calhoun, who retired this past September after 26 years at the school. Tom Izzo is entering his 18th year as head coach at Michigan State, and is pretty confident about what his team can bring to the table in this game.
This will be Michigan State’s first year without all-star forward, Draymond Green, who was a second round draft pick for the Golden State Warriors this year. But there is a lot of depth on Izzo’s bench. The 14th ranked Spartans have a lot of solid talent on the roster, including guard Keith Appling and center Derrick Nix. The Spartans have a very young roster, with only one senior, in Derrick Nix, and three juniors on a roster of 15.
The unranked UConn Huskies are a different story. Not only are they entering the season without Calhoun, but also five of their best players, who left after the program was disciplined for not meeting NCAA academic standards. The Huskies also only have one senior on roster in guard R.J. Evans. They look to still be a solid competitive team in the Big East, even though they cannot go to the postseason due to their infraction. Head coach Kevin Ollie is up to the challenge of rebuilding the program, and hopes to continue its tradition of high level play. Ollie, a former UConn basketball player himself, played 13 years in the NBA up until 2010, when he became an assistant coach for Calhoun.
The highlight of this game will be what the young roster of both teams brings to the table. It will be also interesting how first year coach Kevin Ollie matches up against the high intensity attitude of Tom Izzo. The game starts at 5:30 E.T. and will broadcast on ESPN.
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