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 ESPN360.com). 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 this...to 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.
HAPPY BASKETBALL SEASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!