Michigan State’s basketball team has a new coach in Dan Hurley, who has a lot of respect for the Spartans and their fans.
Hurley was in Michigan State Stadium, just hours before the Spartans lost to Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans had just one field goal, the last coming with 6:43 left in the third quarter.
“This is going to be one of the most emotional moments of my life,” Hurley said after the game.
“I just couldn’t help myself.”
Michigan State went into halftime down by seven, a margin that would be considered a game-changer.
The team had a chance to get one of its own back after a three-point play with 6.7 seconds left in regulation, but the Spartans missed three straight field goals, and the Irish pulled away.
The loss will leave Michigan State with the No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament.
It is the third straight loss for Hurley after a 9-0 start.
But Michigan State has to beat Wisconsin or Purdue, both of whom have a chance of winning their own conference tournament games, to make the NCAA semifinals.
The teams will play in a quarterfinal on Friday night at 7 p.m.
“We know it is going for a reason,” Hurle said.
“We are not going to give up.”
Hurley and his staff are trying to build a winning culture and he has already put a spotlight on the program after a 3-6 start.
Michigan State is trying to get to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009.
The Badgers have a 3.5-game lead over Wisconsin and Purdue in the Big Ten.
“Our program is a work in progress, but we have a lot to learn,” Hurler said.
Michigan has one of college basketball’s best offensive lines, and Hurley will have to find new ways to play with four freshmen, including a center who has only played sparingly.
“They have the talent to be the best team in the conference,” Hurles assistant coach Mike Henson said.
Purdue coach Matt Painter said the Badgers were a team that knew how to win in the regular season and in the tournament.
“There are going to come a point where it is time to make a change,” Painter said.
But the Spartans will be hoping to get a better feel for the tournament, especially in the semifinal, where they are facing a talented team from the Big East.
The NCAA tournament is played in Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday.
The two schools meet again in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday, when Michigan State will try to win its first tournament title since 1989.
Hurle, who came to Michigan State from Notre Dame, was a finalist for the national coach of the year award last year.
Hurly’s first trip to Indianapolis was in 2009, and he guided the Spartans to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
The Michigan State-Wisconsin game will be broadcast on CBS and ESPN.
Michigan State and Notre Dame have won the last three games in Indianapolis.
Hurler was hired to get the Spartans back on track after losing eight of the next 10 games.
The program has a 1-8 record against Wisconsin and Indiana.
Hurleys last team to make it to the NCAA Sweet 16 was the 2002 team that won the national title.
Hurley said he is not concerned about the team losing games this year.
“It’s a matter of doing better,” Hurly said.