Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Game, Big Win

And we are....right back into college basketball season with some great games on throughout the day Tuesday. I had these lovely visions of coming home from work, settling in on the couch with a beer and flipping between various games on different channels....Sadly, that never happened. I actually ended up at work until 9:15 pm, crouched in front of my computer, focused on watching my Spartans take on the Bulldogs of Gonzaga (God bless I REALLY wanted to watch Memphis-Kansas and do a little writing about that, but unfortunately that wasn't an option....So guess what? MSU it is (I know, you're shocked).

As I sat and watched, I wasn't super-pleased with the opening effort. Down as many as 13 points in the first half, the Spartans were out-rebounded, out-hustled and out-manned down low. It seemed like they really struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm--on the other side, Gonzaga came ready to play and went at MSU hard. To be frank, I didn't pay much attention to Gonzaga this preseason. I always kind of assume they are going to be good and felt as though this would be a tough game regardless. Based on those assumptions, I figured I would just watch the game and see what they looked like...and had several observations...

1.) Gonzaga has SIZE. I didn't realize how large these guys actually are. They have a 7 footer and a kid that is SEVEN FOOT FIVE. I mean, seriously!?!? SEVEN FOOT FIVE!?!?!? How do you even GET to be that big? They also have 2 freshmen that are 6'10 and 6'11. Their best shooter, Matt Bouldin, stands at 6'5. Freshman 7'0 Robert Sacre had a great game, especially dominanting in the first half--he showed some great potential for his future with the Bulldogs.

2.) The Zags are CLEARLY underrated and will be in the top 25 very shortly. People questioned whether Mark Few was rebuilding or reloading. I think last night gave us our answer.

3.) Delvon Roe had a BAD game. Fouling out with about 9:30 left in the game, no points, very little contribution. It's still early in the season and he's definitely not 100% from his concussion, so I'm not TOO worried, but he HAS to contribute in order for the Spartans to do well. It is a must.

4.) Freshman Derrick Nix missed FOUR consecutive free throws. FOUR. Unacceptable. He's young and new and adjusting to being a college player in a high-pressure atmosphere, so I'm willing to cut him a LITTLE slack, but let's not make that a habit, okay?

5.) Durrell Summers is incredible--what else can I say!??! He got his first career double-double, hitting shots from all over the floor (including an off-balance, fadeaway while falling down...AMAZING) and basically carried the Spartans on his back, stepping up when others struggled.

6.) Other props go to Raymar Morgan, who despite a lackluster first half and minor ankle injury, came out strong in the second half and helped lift the Spartans back into the game before fouling out. During his time on the bench, he transistioned into a role as cheerleader and the alternating looks of concern and excitement on his face were just so endearing. He just CARES so much.

I had several non-MSU fans make comments during the game that I must be freaking out or that MSU can't win a national championship playing like which I replied, CALM DOWN! IT IS NOVEMBER. Yes, there were multiple things that they need to work on...but every team has multiple things to work on...Kansas, Kentucky, etc. etc. There is sloppiness and some questionable shooting on every team...that's okay. Typically, how it works is that teams GET BETTER as the year goes by. RELAX. If I can watch a game like last night without completely freaking out, I think everyone can.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let the Worrying Begin...

Note to all college basketball fans: It's NOVEMBER. The season just began. Try to keep the Final Four judgements in check.

Why do I write this you ask? Because it's only November and I'm currently reading an article about how one writer is backing off his earlier prediction of how good UNC is (I'm talking about Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports--who ranked the Heels at #5 in his poll). I enjoy Goodman's writing--he writes about a lot of different teams and seems to know his stuff. I don't have any argument with his writing, it's more his topic choice that struck a reminds me how silly all of us who have opinions about sports can often be.

Remember last year at this time? Everyone was singing UNC's praises. They were the team to beat. They alone had the national championships in their sights--everyone else was just a speedbump to run over along the way. Then *gasp* the Tar Heels LOST. Suddenly, no one had any confidence in them any more. They would crumble. We were duped--maybe they weren't REALLY that good. But as the season progressed, things changed and by April 6th, there they were holding up a trophy.

Perhaps UNC isn't as good as they were last year--they lost a LOT of talent and it remains to be seen how some of their relatively unknown players will fare, how the team will gel. But to write them off this early in the year? It seems a little extreme.

There is a long way to go from now until March. There are dozens of games to be played, thousands of headlines to be written, predictions to be made, analysis to share. Maybe UNC WON'T get back to the Final Four. Maybe they will. Who knows? I do know this: wherever they are now, they will get better. They will grow. Roy Williams is too good of a coach and the caliber of athletes at North Carolina is too high to suggest otherwise.

But we have a lot of time to see what happens. Let's just sit back and watch for awhile.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


You have to check this out from Villanova's Midnight Madness...The entire team and dance team doing Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

I love it when athletes aren't afraid to be goofy, let their personalities show and make fools of themselves....great!

Friday, November 6, 2009

I am completely jealous of Andy Katz....

The article is great, but the video is even better! Take a tour of Tom Izzo's basement and check out his Spartan memoribilia...I thought I was building a pretty good collection, but I'm pretty sure it will never come close to his...

Katz: Izzo, Spartans want to take one more step in

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Open Letter to the Spartans

Dear Spartans,

You know I love you. Every day since April 6th, I've counted down the days until Oct. 16, when Midnight Madness hits and you can once again unleash your basketball greatness to the world.

That time is now upon us. I can't pretend I don't have high expectations for you this season. You made it all the way to the championship last year and while I was proud, I think this is your time to take it all. I know you can do it. No matter what, I will always expect you to play hard. You may lose a game or two this season and that will be okay--which I am putting in writing because I'm sure I might have some anger about it later. I know it's early and there's a long way to go, but I'd like to take this time to address a few concerns.

Every November, the season starts and the injuries begin. This year is no different. It appears that several of you are having some issues. Delvon Roe: Concussion. Korie Lucious: Sprained Ankle. Chris Allen: Groin. Raymar Morgan: Sprained Ankle. Here is my plea: Get it all out now. Take the bumps and bruises, come down with swine flu, roll an ankle, whatever. Do it early and then STOP. Stay healthy. Be strong. In order to make it all the way, WE NEED ALL OF YOU AT 100% and not on the surgery table or sitting on the bench with a fever. I'm sure you will all be fine, but I'm just feeling some stress.

I would like to specifically address you, Raymar Morgan. You are an incredible asset to the team. We all love you. When you're on, you're unstoppable. You showed us in the UConn game and we were all so proud. This season, with Suton gone, we need that Raymar EVERY GAME. We need your leadership, strength, rebounding and most importantly, your offense. Please step it up and deliver. I know you can.

Here's to a great season, Spartans...I'll be watching!