Michigan State had little time to celebrate its first win over Michigan in three years before … well, maybe the players had too much time to celebrate.
Star point guard Mateen Cleaves, 20, and forward Andre Hutson, 19, were arrested on alcohol charges early Wednesday, just hours after the Spartans’ win over the Wolverines in East Lansing, Mich.
“I feel I let my family down, my team down and MSU down,” Cleaves said.
Cleaves, a sophomore who leads the No. 14 Spartans in scoring, assists and steals, was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol, refusing a breath test and violating a seat belt law. Hutson was charged with “zero tolerance,” because he’s a minor and had a blood-alcohol level of more than .02 percent.
Coach Tom Izzo said a school investigation was in process and has yet to make a decision on punishments.
“I can’t tell you how embarrassed I am,” Izzo said. “Based on the facts there will be some consequences that are appropriate with what happened.”
Both the date (Feb. 18) of the arrest and Michigan State’s opponent were eerie reminders of a previous incident involving Cleaves.
On Feb. 17, 1996, Cleaves, on a recruiting trip, was in a Ford Explorer with five Michigan basketball players when it rolled over. Cleaves had back problems as a result of the accident, leading to an up-and-down freshman year last season.
Purdue coach Gene Keady, whose No. 5 Boilermakers are now in third place in the Big Ten, was left wondering exactly where his team was on Wednesday night, when it got drubbed by Iowa 88-69 in Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes shot 70 percent in the first half, after which they led 53-27. That made it easy for Iowa to cruise to just its third win in nine games after starting the season 13-1.
“You can’t be letting people shoot the ball whenever they want to. I would have liked to have somebody within six feet of them,” Keady said. “They were hungry. They were hurting. They want to qualify for the (NCAA) tournament.”
Purdue fell to 22-5 overall, 10-3 in the Big Ten, a half-game behind Illinois for second place. The fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, who apparently know an overrated team when they see one, let the Boilermakers know it, too.
“They started chanting overrated,’ and they’re right,” Keady said. “We are overrated. This was ridiculous. They just weren’t ready to play, and that’s really embarrassing.”
They’ve started again.
The yearly grumblings about how the game of basketball has passed by temperamental, overbearing Indiana coach Bob Knight are once again present in Hoosierland.
After first-round flameouts in each of the last three NCAA tournaments, a so-so (for Indiana) 8-4 record in the Big Ten, and two unscheduled player departures in one year (Neil Reed and Jason Collier), Knight is again facing criticism, even from inside the state that usually worships him. IU president Myles Brand even wrote a letter to the media to support Knight and his coaching style.
“I have no problem with it,” sophomore guard A.J. Guyton said. “People tend to say all he does is yell and scream. That’s not all he does. People don’t see the jokes and the fun we have in the locker room. All they see is him ranting and raving at officials.”
And often at players. Two weeks after Collier left, Knight had a shouting match with sophomore guard Michael Lewis on the sidelines during a Hoosiers’ win over Michigan.
What works to Knight’s advantage is the immaculate reputation his program has academically (79 percent graduation rate, second-best among public schools this decade) and in the eyes of the NCAA, which has never had to step on campus for an investigation.
“I don’t know why people wouldn’t support us,” Knight said. “I could not understand in any way, shape or form, with what we’ve done here and what our kids have done. If you can’t support what we’ve done here, you’ve got to be a moron.”
The reputation of the program, plus his status as the winningest active coach, makes Knight’s job secure, even though his team might very well disappoint again.
“I don’t think this team is ever going to play a game where everything is good. I’m convinced of that,” he said. “… There’s always something for me to bitch about … I mean, you think I like to bitch. You got no idea how happy I’d be to walk off the floor and say, Goddamn, there’s nothing to bitch about today.'”