Back and maybe NOT better than ever, but I will try.
It's been a little tough getting back into the fray after 3 weeks of nothing but scores and highlights at my fingertips. It's bad news when you have a college basketball blog, leave the country and return with the need to play extreme catch-up. It might not be such a bad thing though--I won't be jaded with past performance or records, but rather where teams are at NOW and how they progress as we head into the meat of the season.
Rest-assured that I will have plenty to say about the fact that the Spartans gave me not one, but TWO heart attacks this week, eeking out wins over Minnesota and Michigan.
I watched South Carolina overtake Kentucky, watched Kansas dominate Mizzou (which was so sad, I thought Mizzou would have given them a better game), and can't WAIT to regale you with tales of games that will happen this weekend.
The Kentucky-SC game was interesting...I've never been a huge Kentucky fan, but they are quite fun to watch and I admit wholeheartedly that I've bought into the John Wall hype--I LOVE him. I HATE getting emotionally attached to players who will only be around for one year. I still say what I've said before and that is that Kentucky's youth in close games can and will get the better of them come tournament time. That's not to say they'll go out early, but they've now shown, just like all the other top teams, that they are vulnerable and not just when playing the big boys.
Also, SC getting fined for court-storming?!?! Not a fan of that rule. Yes, I understand WHY it exists--it is purely for safety and I would rather they have it now then after someone gets seriously hurt, but it puts such a damper on the joys of being a rowdy student fan...not that those rowdy student fans seemed to be dampened after that win. ;) *sigh* I miss those days.
It will be interesting to see who's #1 after the weekend as well..tons of big games and tons of opportunity for someone (*cough* NOVA) to sneak in and steal that spot. And in case you are wondering, no, I won't have a problem if Kansas does well this weekend and gets back to #1. At this point in the season, they are EARNING it by playing well and beating quality opponents. Make sense?
And in case you are wondering, NO, I don't think MSU should be #1. I love them, but they aren't there yet. They can be #410 right now for all I care, just as long as they are #1 come April (ok, maybe not THAT far down, but you get my point).
Speaking of MSU...8-0 in the Big Ten, best start in school history? I'll take it. I don't know how long it can last given their schedule and if they can't put teams away, this "we got the W because our opponent missed their last-second shot" luck is going to run out quickly. I have mixed emotions about the idea of my favorite teams going undefeated--on one hand, I LOVE IT. On the other hand, I think it gets into dangerous territory and possibly lulls them into a false sense of security. While I never WANT the team I cheer for to lose, I think an occasional loss can be a wake-up call and keep a team hungry and on their toes. That said, MSU still has a LOT of tough games coming up--at Wisconsin, at Illinois, vs. Ohio State and 2 games with Purdue. Yikes. I have full faith that they CAN run the table, but whether or not they will remains to be seen. It's a tough task for anyone, particularly when they are already at the top of the conference with a target on their back. With each win, that target gets bigger and every team wants to be the ones to take them down just a little bit more. Hopefully, the Spartans remember to just play well, play as a team and take it one game at a time. I have no doubt Izzo reminds them of that daily. :)
However, I think the Michigan game was evidence that the Spartans aren't quite playing their best basketball yet. The turnovers are driving me CRAZY and it's something that they've struggled with for the past couple of seasons. When they take care of the ball and make sharp passes, hard drives and strong moves to the basket, they can make anything happen. CONTROL IT PLEASE.
I AM very pleased with the response from Raymar Morgan. He has this fire in his eye that just says, "Get out of the way, 'cause we aren't leaving here until we win." LOVE IT! I've seen that look in all the Spartans in the past and I hope Ray can inspire the rest of them with his passion.
Big games this weekend kids....enjoy!!!
P.S. Props to anyone tuning in after my long hiatus...thanks for reading! :)