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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Set your DDRs for some classic Jud (with some Special K and Izzo mixed in)


Michigan State’s legendary Jud Heathcote, who led the Spartans to 339 wins in 19 seasons as the head men’s basketball coach, is profiled Saturday in a new episode of Big Ten Icons, presented by Discover. Hosted by Hall of Fame broadcaster Keith Jackson, the show airs at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET, following the Michigan State-Nebraska men’s basketball game [Saturday].

The show includes new one-on-one interviews with Heathcote; Michigan State coach Tom Izzo; award-winning journalists Jack Ebling and Dan Wetzel; former MSU All-American Greg Kelser and others.

Heathcote led Michigan State to three Big Ten championships and nine NCAA Tournaments, highlighted by four Sweet 16 appearances, two berths in the Elite 8 and the 1979 national title. After arriving in East Lansing in 1976, Heathcote quickly established a new basketball culture by adapting his team’s style to his players’ talent. This hallmark coaching philosophy was perhaps most evident when he recruited a 6’9 Lansing native to play point guard.

“Magic Johnson was not looking at Michigan State that hard until Jud Heathcote said, ‘You come play for me, you can be a point guard,’” Wetzel said. “That was the game changer. It didn’t just change Magic Johnson. It didn’t just change Michigan State. It changed basketball forever.”

Heathcote developed seven All-Americans before stepping away from the MSU sidelines in 1995. Before retiring, he left one final, indelible mark on the program by insisting that then-assistant coach Tom Izzo be named his successor.

“He helped me develop as a coach while he was still the coach, and most people wouldn’t do that,” Izzo said. “I really appreciated that. He helped me grow, and I think that’s why we had success when I got the job.”


  1. I already had my DVR set when I read the post. I saw the commercial and noticed Jud walking in front of Kelly Tripuka. I was at that game in Indianapolis on St. Patty's Day in 1979. It was an Elite Eight game against Bill Lambier and the rest of the Irish that sent us to the Final Four in Salt Lake City.

    We destroyed Penn (yes Pennsylvania not Penn State) by 40 points and then won our first National Championship against an undefeated Indiana State team featuring a guy named Larry Bird by 11 points. It was the first time the national champion won every game by double digits. Bet you didn't know that.

  2. The 2000 team also won every game in the Big Dance by at least 10 points. Bet you DID know that!


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