The “Izzone:” Loud, loyal and annoying

Sean Shapiro and Sean Shapiro

EAST LANSING, Mich. — If you’ve ever been to the Breslin Center or watched a Michigan State basketball game on TV, then you’ve been introduced to the “Izzone.”

The Michigan State student section, named for current head coach Tom Izzo, is loud, loyal — students have to earn a chance to get in the lower bowl through past attendance — and annoyed the hell out of me Saturday afternoon.

Unlike Anderson Arena, where I get to take in the action from basically the rafters, my seat on press row at the Breslin Center was within an arms reach of the white-wearing, always-jumping, yelling Izzone.

No one warned me that I should have brought earplugs — which one reporter for a Michigan-based publication inserted right before tip-off — and I’m partially thankful that BG never led after the first couple minutes, because if anything was thrown… well it would have hit me in the back of the head.

First half

20:00 — Michigan State wins the tip and the entire Izzone blows up brown paper bags, not sure what that’s for…

19:12 — Spartans score their first points of the game — after BG had taken a 2-0 lead on a Dee Brown layup — and all those brown bags get popped in unison, kind of like when you’d squeeze a bag of chips as a kid until it popped, imagine that noise, but a lot louder.

17:05 — A’uston Calhoun subs into the game, Izzone can’t help but notice he’s apparently spelled his name wrong, I’d be reminded of this every time he touched the ball.

12:07 — Jordon Crawford airbags a 3-point try, this was by far his biggest mistake of the game, not because he missed a 3, but because the crowd won’t let him forget as he’s instantly gone from “midget” — Crawford is 5-foot-6 — to “Air-ball.”

9:24 — Michigan State misses back-to-back 3-point attempts, both which seemed forced and I hear a student in the Izzone behind me say, “Wow, this zone is killing us.” First and only reference made to the game that actually has to do with strategy. Meanwhile on the court, BG only trails 10-9.

2:08 — Possibly the same guy who made the zone defense comment makes this gem of a statement, “How are we only at 20 points? At this rate we’ll never get tacos.”

0:19 — Luke Kraus is blocked by Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, leading to a basket at the other end, crowd starts chanting, “Bring the pain,” which eerily sounds just like Central Michigan’s football chant, “Move those chains.”

0:00 — Buzzer goes to end the half, Spartans lead 25-19 thanks to a pair of late BG turnovers, get my first reprieve from the Izzone as I head to the media room for a beverage.

Second half

18:44 — Dee Brown scores and the Falcons are on a 4-0 run to start the second half, BG only trails 25-23 and for the first time this game, it’s quiet enough to talk to the other members of press row.

17:46 — So much for that, Spartans drill back-to-back 3s and this place is rocking, only one thing could make it worse/louder — more 3s.

17:08 — And of course they hit another 3-pointer.

16:20 — And another.

15:31 — And another.

13:40 — And another .

9:00 — And another… no wait, that’s actually a putback dunk by Payne on the rebound. By the way, the score is now 52-29, Spartans are now truly “Bringing the pain.”

7:02 — Kraus flips a Michigan State player over his back while fighting for a rebound, Izzone goes ballistic, good thing Draymond Green doesn’t take the crowd’s advice, at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, I don’t think it would have been fair fight for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound BG guard.

2:56 — It’s 67-38 and this crowd wants tacos, so what better way to let the players know, then chant, “We want tacos! We want tacos!”

1:58 — And they get the tacos! Thank god I only had to listen to that chant for 58-basketball seconds — which was more like five minutes in real time.

1:02 — Spartans empty the bench and bring in the subs, crowd is still on its feet and jumping up and down, really? The score is 72-38, do you need to keep jumping?

0:42 — James Erger air-balls a 3-pointer, luckily for him Crawford already has claimed the moniker “Air-ball” and this game is pretty much over.

0:00 — Buzzer sounds and the Spartans can celebrate a 74-39 victory, and most importantly, I can head to the media room and away from the Izzone.