Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Watch What Happens 2.0

Here we go!

The season is STILL early and I'm not yet done with what I'm looking forward's my final thoughts on what I think are the most interesting storylines.

1.) The return of UCLA:  Ben Howland hasn't had a whole lot of fun the past couple of years.  Injuries, early departures to the NBA and "questionable" players in terms of character have clouded the school's incredible history.  However, with a strong recruiting class and some big names, everyone is saying the Bruins are back.  A lot hinges on whether Shabazz Muhammad gets cleared to play, but UCLA should have enough talent to get some wins.  But WILL THEY?

2.) Kentucky's Nerlens Noel:  This one is really just because he's so highly touted and that always interests me.  I'll be watching his early play, his development and just in general want to see how good he is on the NCAA stage.  I can't say I'm a fan of the Kid N'Play haircut, but I DO admire his commitment to getting UK shaved into the back of his head. 

3.) Ohio State without Sullinger:  OSU still has talent, so I know they'll be in the hunt for a Big Ten championship, but how will the loss of Sullinger impact the team?  Also, will there be less whining to the refs now that he's gone? 

4.) Coaching stars:  Who's the next "smallish" conference or young coach that makes a splash?  Two years ago it was Shaka Smart, last year it was Ohio's John Groce.  Next?

5.) Michigan: Really a top 5 team?  Not trying to be a hater, but that seems a LITTLE high.  I know I should automatically hate them because I'm a State fan, but I actually really like watching Michigan play.  Trey Burke is special, Tim Hardaway, Jr. is extremely talented and John Beilen is a great coach (and a really good guy).  But is that enough?  Who else will step up?  And in other news, I'm SO GLAD Zack Novak finally graduated--Huzzah!  If he were on my team, I'd love the guy.  But he's not....and he irritated me for 4 long years.  SEE YA!

6.) Big Ten-ACC Challenge: The last couple of years, the Big Ten has stepped up and won the overall challenge, finally quieting the talk of how the almighty ACC is SOOO superior.  On paper, that should hold this year.  But WILL IT? 

7.) Teams that I find enjoyable to watch in general and make me tune in: UConn, Mizzou, Duke, Louisville, Syracuse.  With the exception of UConn, all had huge years last year and lots of hype headed into this season--how will they do? 

That's about it for now...but let me know what YOU want to see--and if this early set of games has lived up to your expectations!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Watch What Happens

The second set of topics I'm most looking forward to is, unsurprisingly, centered around the Big Ten.

Over the last few years, it's been the toughest conference in the country--tons of talent, loads of great coaches, lots of competition.  This year looks like much of the same. 

I'm really, really interested to see how the conference race shapes up.  Understandably, Indiana is the favorite, given that they're all preseason #1 right now, but that will absolutely be threatened in conference play.  I see Michigan, Ohio State, MSU and even potentially Wisconsin  The key (I think) will be 2 things:

1.) Who maintains their homecourt advantage and 2.) Who can snag the most wins on the road (a near-impossible feat in Big Ten play). 

In the past years, the champs or co-champs have had about 3 or 4 losses in conference play--and it may be similar....which brings me to other teams I'm interested in...

Indiana:  TONS of hype around this team, mostly because of the tree that is Cody Zeller.  However, what I didn't realize at first is how many OTHER key players are coming back as well--Jordan Hulls provides a long-range scoring threat, Christian Watford is tough and strong and is a threat from anywhere on the floor, Victor Oladipo can score AND rebound--eek!  Add in a top 10 recruiting class and they're pretty much stacked.  I'm a Tom Crean fan, and not just because he's a former Izzo assistant.  He's intense, he knows how to interact with the fans, he respects the tradition of IU, he can recruit and his teams always play hard.  If MSU isn't winning the conference, I'd be good with IU taking it all. 

I'm really curious to see how they live up to expectations and how long they can maintain that top rank.  If they do lose in the uber-competitive Big Ten, how harshly will they be punished for it?  Can everyone stay healthy?  Will the guys that were virutally unknown at this time last year handle their stardom or buckle under the pressure?  Stay tuned!!  


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We're BAAACCK!!!

It's that time again folks!

College basketball season is FINALLY upon us! 

The disappointing performance of my Spartan football team has somewhat increased my levels of enthusiasm (it's a new offense, they will get there, I still love them!), but there are WAY more reasons I'm looking forward to 2012-2013. 

Instead of writing a preview of the Top 25, over the next few entries, I'd just like to share some of the storylines I'm eager to watch unfold.  Full disclosure:  I try to be somewhat objective, but since this is my blog, I don't get paid for it and I can write what I want, I refuse to hide my love of Michigan State.  GO GREEN!

Speaking of, let's start in East Lansing, shall we?

Last year's Spartans only lost 2 players from the squad--but what losses they were!  I think the main question mark behind this team is "What do they do without Draymond Green?"  (For those of you playing along at home, this would be a GREAT sidegame during any MSU broadcast--keep track of how many times DayDay is mentioned). 

It's a completely valid question.  Green led the team last year physically, emotionally and mentally--what he brought to the floor in terms of intangibles can't be summed up in words. 

That said, this year's team certainly has the TALENT to be amazing--and their #14 preseason ranking suggests I'm not the only one who thinks so.  They have experience in guards (Keith Appling, Travis Trice) AND down low (Derrick Nix, Adrien Payne), some solid role players with room to grow (Russell Byrd, Brandan Kearney) and some great, fresh talent (Gary Harris).  There's also some guy named Branden Dawson who's coming back from an injury and is supposed to be pretty good.  Dawson, for me, is one of the keys to the season.  If he's strong, he adds an athleticism, depth and a scoring threat the Spartans don't have anywhere else. 

From my perspective, the Spartan season will go one of two ways:

1.) One (or more) of the starting five picks up where Green left off--setting the example for the others, keeping the team unified, stepping up in clutch situations and MSU is a presence in the Top 25, fighting Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan and possibly Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.  This season would also include a nice tournament run as well. 

The other situation is scenario #2, where no one knows what to do without DayDay and everything is a kind of a big mess.

I'm VERY interested to watch how this goes because frankly, I'm just not sure.  With Izzo at the helm, I feel as though chances are that scenario #1 or some variation of it is what we can reasonably expect--but Izzo can't be on the court FOR these guys and to some extent, it's going to be left in their hands. 

Since they play their first game on FRIDAY (who's excited!?!?!) we get a bit of a peek at what they'll look like then. 

And one final note:  Regardless of what happens at the beginning of this year, it is important to remember the following things about MSU: 

1.) They always play an extremely tough schedule in the beginning of the year
2.) They ALWAYS get better as the year goes on.  How they look in November is NOT how they'll look at the end of February. 

That's it for now--but in the meantime, any additional thoughts regarding the Spartans? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reactions from the weekend...

That sound you just heard was my bracket exploding into a million tiny pieces.  After the first weekend.  Which has NEVER happened to me.  With all the basketball I watch and read about, I'm usually slightly more accurate (at least until the 2nd weekend).  I mostly blame Mizzou and Florida State for totally falling short of expectations. 

But in spite of all that, this tournament has already been everything I dreamed it would be.

We started Sunday with 68 teams and within 1 week, the field is cut to 16.  It's how it's always been, but when you really stop to think about it, it always blows my mind.  The days of games seem to take forever and yet when they're over, I always find myself thinking, "that's it?"  Since I'm not going to analyze every game, here are some general thoughts:

~There were absolutely NO buzzer beaters.  Not a single one.  There were a couple of last-second shots TAKEN, but zero made.  One of the writers I follow pointed that out and at first I said, "wait, what?!?"  BUT IT'S TRUE!  Hard to believe that in all the excitement of the weekend it never happened, but there you go. 

~WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT DUKE!?!?  To be fair, I never expected them to go out in the first round, but I KNEW they were getting bounced early! 
~Baylor's uniforms:  I keep reading all these things about how the team uniforms are a "fashion statement" and "bold"...But I think they're hideous (the uniforms, not the team).  I can feel my retnas burning every time I look at them.  I'm all for taking risks, but yuck.
~THE BIG TEN!  At this time of the year, I usually root for the entire conference to do well--it validates the fact that there was a 3-way tie for the conference title and also why there were so many teams in the middle of the pack.  We pretty much just beat up on each other for 2-3 months.  To be real, the only team I DIDN'T think would get out of the first round was Purdue and it turned out to be Michigan.  I know I'm supposed to laugh maniacally about that, because of the whole UM-MSU thing, but I honestly do wish they had won.  Here's hoping the teams survive another game (or two).  And speaking of Purdue...

~ROBBIE HUMMEL.  Homeboy almost SINGLE-HANDEDLY beat Kansas.  I'm sure all the aforementioned Big Ten teams were watching and thinking, "welcome to our world, Jayhawks."  That loss was heartbreaking for the Boilers, so I'd like to offer 2 totally different perspectives when it comes to this young man:

1.) As a fan of basketball, he will be missed.  Good kid, hard worker, came back from incredible adversity, great player, etc.  He's everything you would want in a collegiate player and he can leave knowing he left a positive mark on the program, the fans and the sport in general.  I'm sure Purdue will celebrate him for years to come.  

2.) As a person who's watched him light up her team a million times, I say...PEACE OUT!  Good luck, good riddance, LEAVE US ALONE!  There are a select group of players I was THRILLED to see graduate after 4 years:  Dee Brown at Illinois, Tyler Hansborough at UNC, J.J. Reddick at Duke and Dallas Lauderdale at Ohio State (the last one not so much because he torched my team or was constantly discussed by the media, but because I SWEAR he was there for like 7 years and no one EVER MENTIONED IT.  Also, I'm pretty sure he was 43 years old.  I never did see a birth certificate....But I disgress).  Robbie Hummel is on that list. 

~Jae Crowder is a beast.  That's pretty much all I have to say about that.

~I picked Witchita State over VCU in the first round.  Total mistake.  We should all know by now not to pick against the almight SHAKA!  But I will say I'm proud of the Hoosiers for coming back and winning that second round game.  Well done!

~My father laughed at me when I told him to pick Colorado over UNLV.  My thinking was that UNLV was on a 5-game losing streak and not playing well, while Colorado had a solid record and just won the Pac-12 tournament.  We debated this for awhile and he thought I was nuts.  WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!?! 

~Unfortunately, my father and I ALSO spent a great deal of time discussing my choice to pick Belmont over Georgetown and THEN to put Belmont in the Sweet 16.  He also thought that was crazy...but it turned out he listened to me.  And I was REALLY wrong.  Sorry, Dad.  :(

~SPARTANS!!!!!  Of course I was going to mention it.  DRAYMOND GREEN'S TRIPLE-DOUBLE!  A GRINDING WIN OVER ST. LOUIS!  A MATCH-UP WITH LOUISVILLE!  I'm excited and terrified and stressed out all at once.  And really, that's all I can say for now. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The West Region---aka Lindsay's Region of Doom!

My totally biased opinion is that this region is by far the toughest.  Maybe that's because my beloved Spartans are the #1 seed here, but even if they were to get knocked out, I STILL think every game will be a fight. 

Some thoughts:

1.) I heard several of my favorite experts pick MSU to lose early or not to make the Final Four.  Naturally, I was all set to launch into a long-winded diatribe about how silly it is that all the analysts say "don't count out Izzo in March" yet they were ALL counting out Izzo in March!  But then I checked out ESPN and realized I missed a crucial Bracketology conversation in which several experts (even DIGGER) picked the I can no longer rant on that one.  I'm not saying MSU is a lock for the Final Four--this is, of course, the tournament and as we see every year, literally anything can happen.  And who knows how the loss of Branden Dawson will affect MSU down the stretch.  But they played really well in the BTT and I don't think it's totally out of the question.  It's just nice to see the media have some faith. 

2.) I'm totally bummed that my second-favorite team, the Missouri Tigers, are in our region.  I have mixed emotions on this one.  On the one hand, I don't want to have to play them and be forced to root against them (because of course, I would be rooting for my own team).  But on the other hand, if we DO have to play them, it would be great because it means BOTH teams would have done well enough to have a shot at the Final Four.  And if MSU gets to the Elite Eight, I'll be extremely happy and proud.  Of course, a Final Four and/or a national championship is better, but I'm trying to keep things in perspective.  :) 

3.) The match-up that baffles me:  Louisville vs. Davidson.  I just don't know which way to go here.  Yes, Davidson beat Kansas...but that was so long ago!  And yes, Louisville has had some issues this year...but they're playing really well right now and just won the Big East tournament, so they're coming into this tournament with some momentum.  Additionally, I just love Rick Pitino as a coach.  I think his teams always play hard and I usually really enjoy watching them.  But then back in my sports TV days, I went down to Davidson to do a feature on Steph Curry and absolutely loved the school, the fans and their coach, Bob much so that I now own a Davidson basketball t-shirt.  WHAT TO DO!?!? 

4.) Sleeper team in the region: New Mexico.  I think because they aren't on TV and not in a power conference, people can overlook them.  Sweet 16?

5.) Another favorite team: Marquette.  Jae Crowder is a total beast.  Buzz Williams is totally underrated as a coach...and I find him hilarious.  This team is tough, physical and ready to win.  I would LOVE to see them vs. Mizzou.

6.) Teams I know pretty much nothing about that scare me:  St. Louis and Memphis.  I'm already nervous about LIU-Brooklyn.  No one wants to be the first 1 seed to lose to a 16.  So there's that.  And then, if MSU wins their first game, I hear lots about Memphis that turns my stomach.  I'm more worried about getting past them than anyone else in the bracket, probably because I know more about the other teams and can think about how MSU matches up with their players and strengths and weaknesses.

So that's the West.  President Obama likes Mizzou...who do YOU have?

Monday, March 12, 2012


Given my state of mind for the last entry in this blog, I would like to begin here by addressing the awesomeness of the Big Ten Tournament, particularly the FANTASTIC performance by my very own Spartans!!!!!!!! 

I was really, really excited to see how they re-grouped after the Ohio State loss.  They were focused and ready to play.  Not only that, but I thought their defense was terrific and I loved how various guys stepped up each game.  Everyone gives Draymond Green a lot of credit (and they should) but MSU has a lot of guys that do a lot of things well.  I LOVED that Ohio State game.  It was intense, physical and you could really tell that winning that tournament title meant a lot to both clubs....and even I felt intense--my palms were sweaty, my heart was racing and I had to physically remind myself to BREATHE.  I was so happy they won and even though I wouldn't have cared if they'd gotten a 2 seed, it was pretty awesome to see them get a 1.


How excited are you for this tournament?  If the conference tournaments were any indication, this is going to be one crazy ride.  Instead of doing all kinds of game by game analysis (because let's be real, I'm not ACTUALLY qualified to do that), I'm just going to give my thoughts on some matchups and teams in general. 


All the "experts" are all about Kentucky here and I don't blame them.  Please understand I think Kentucky is a VERY, VERY good team.  They have incredible talent and a coach that knows what he's doing and can get the best out of his guys.  BUT.  I'm not totally enamored of them, I have to say.  With the exception of a couple of teams (Florida, Vandy), I think the SEC is pretty weak and I don't think UK has had many challenges or faced too much adversity.  I also think that all the youth on that team can really be a factor in the tournament.  The pressure and the expectations are a lot to handle--not to mention the sheer SCOPE of the tourney--the atmosphere, the schedule, the fact that most people are rooting against you because you have a 1 in front of your name.  I think Kentucky is really good, but I don't think they're invincible.  If they go up against an athletic team with a lot of size and experience, they could be in trouble.

The match-up in this region that's really giving me pause is Notre Dame and Xavier.  ND had a rocky start and lost their best player to injury...but somehow managed to regroup and make a run through the Big East.  Xavier had an amazing start to the season until that horrible brawl against Cincy and then it all seemed to go downhill.  They seemed to figure something out though on the way to the A10 championship game--but have they figured out enough?  I love Xavier, and when they were on, they looked like a Final Four team early this year.  I can see them viewing the tournament as a fresh start and playing with a lot of drive and emotion.  But I can also see ND just being a little too much for them.  The Big East is a tough conference and ND has certainly been battle-tested.  The jury's out on this one...I still can't decide. 

I also can't decide about Baylor.  I've seen them do really well....and seen them choke in big games.   I want to think they can make a deep run but I can also see them, as well as Duke, getting bounced early.  Duke to me is super vulnerable.  They have some athleticism in the Plumlees, but that's about it.  And if Ryan Kelly doesn't come back or isn't at full strength, they're even more depleted.  They're also a team that lives and dies by the 3.  If they meet a really fast, strong, athletic team, and the 3s aren't falling, they're toast.  I also don't respect their defense--or should I say, lack thereof.  Of course, Duke will ALWAYS have the advantage of one of the best coaches in the game in Coach K.  And their players, while not necessarily "athletic" are both intelligent and skilled.  I could see them getting far, but I could also see them losing to the ND/Xavier winner. 

More tomorrow on a different region--let me know what you think about the South!    

Monday, March 5, 2012

To the Victor....Go the Spoiled....

I'm really, REALLY disappointed and upset about that MSU-OSU game.  I mean, I'm REALLY irritated.  I've managed to keep most of the games in perspective this season, but this one is tough to swallow. 

And here's the thing:  Michigan State WON the Big Ten championship.  Granted, they are sharing it, but they WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP.  This is a team that everyone (well, all non-MSU fans) wrote off at the beginning of the season, the team picked to finish FIFTH in the conference and barely make the tournament--certainly not a team that was expected to be in contention for a conference championship or have a top 5 ranking at the beginning of March. 

Yet here I am, fresh off a regular season that far exceeded expectations--whining, complaining and ticked off because MSU has to share.  If I was on the outside, watching a fan of any other team do that, my response would be an incredibly indignant:  "REALLY?!?!" followed by a derisive "your team won the conference.  Stop crying about it and shut your mouth."   

So that really made me reflect on it because frankly, my disappointment isn't really a normal reaction. 

(ASIDE:  One thing I think I AM justified in being really sad about is Branden Dawson and his season-ending ACL injury.  AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL.  He is such a HUGE part of our team and we NEED him.  Also, I always feel for any kid who has a season-ending injury, ESPECIALLY late in the year.  It totally sucks.  End aside.)

This is the thing:  When State started playing well and winning and climbing the ladder of victory, I got excited.  I said from the beginning of the year that MSU would be better than everyone gave them credit for...AND THEN THEY WERE! 

After last year's awful season, this is exactly what I wanted and needed and hoped for.  And you know what?  I got greedy.  I didn't just want to finish near the top, I wanted to finish AT the top.  And then I wanted to finish at the top ALONE.  Oh, and I started to want that NCAA tourney #1 seed too.  Why?  Because I'm spoiled.  We're all spoiled.  I've been to 3 Final Fours in 6 years, seen several Big Ten titles, read and listened to countless media outlets sing Izzo's praises and generally enjoyed an obscene number of victories.  It's not a question of IF we'll make the NCAA tournament, but where we're seeded.  And after last year's horrible showing, I wanted to erase those memories as quickly as possible. 

I couldn't even tell you how MSU blew that 15 point lead and lost that game. Normally I'm pretty analytical and can say, "OSU did this and MSU did that and here's what happened." Not this time. All I know is we were winning and it felt great. And then we were tied and Buford was hitting the game-winner with Appling in his face. And the final dagger through the heart?  MSU controlled their destiny.  All they had to do was win 1 of their final 2 games...and they couldn't.  I know that this team is young and I often forget that because of the great senior leadership they have.  But that part ticked me off too.  THEY needed to make it happen.  And they didn't.  I know that experience will come in time and those kids (emphasis on KIDS) have played their butts off this season.  But it still stings.

So that's the first part.  I'm just a spoiled brat.  But then I realized there was a little more to it than that....

It was also SENIOR DAY.  And more importantly, it was DRAYMOND GREEN'S Senior Day.  And DELVON ROE'S Senior Day.  And AUSTIN THORNTON'S Senior Day.  And I wanted those guys who all worked so hard and been through so much and truly shown what it means to be a Spartan, to have their moment.  To be able to have the fans at Breslin and thousands of fans watching on TV see them get buzzed out one at a time, kiss the floor and wave to the thunderous ovation of the crowd.  I wanted them to have that time and they didn't and couldn't.  I wanted to see DayDay come off the floor and hug Izzo and tug at the heart strings of Spartans everywhere.  It should have been a celebration and instead it was disppointment over a loss and disappointment over losing Branden Dawson. 

So that's where I stand.  I'll get over it eventually and be ready to cheer this weekend during the Big Ten Tournament.  But for today, I'm going to mourn the loss and thank the seniors...and hopefully stop whining really soon.  ;) 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I love when I make observations and it turns out I'm not completely out on a limb.

As I watched MSU-OSU this past Saturday (a HUGE road win for State by the way and one I was extremely proud of), I mentioned to the man sitting next to me at the bar that it seemed like Jared Sullinger was really affected by the physicality of the game. 

I've watched several Ohio State games this year and while I really respect Sullinger as a player, I notice that he gets a LOT of calls.  But conversely, when the refs aren't calling it his way, he seems to get a little pouty--sarcastically laughing and shaking his head, complaining to the refs, etc.  And subsequently, his game suffers.  I knew the game was physical and the refs were "letting them play," so I thought MAYBE there was some validity to his complaints.  But then, they should the free throw discrepancy and I changed my mind.

This afternoon I came across THIS from's Seth Davis in his mailbag...

Beyond the questions about depth, I thought Chris from South Dakota made a salient point about Sullinger. He was way too engaged with the refs during the Michigan State game. The Spartans' game plan was clearly to get physical with him, but it's hard to argue that was unfair when Michigan State was whistled for four more fouls than Ohio State, allowing the Buckeyes to attempt six more free throws. Perhaps Sullinger's treatment by opposing defenses has been a little too prominent in his mind. The morning of the Michigan State game, Sullinger's father, Satch, who coached Jared in high school, was quoted in The Columbus Dispatch complaining about "bush-league coaches [who] are beating on him just to make him lose his cool." (I say unnamed, but the Dispatch reporter interpreted Satch's comment as a reference to Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.)
Apparently, Matta showed his players video of the loss to Michigan State and pointed out their facial expressions and body language. Said Sullinger, "Honestly, we looked like spoiled brats out there if you look at the tape -- arguing with one another, complaining about calls." Maybe they learned a valuable lesson.

Read more:

I think you'll find it supports my claims.  :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

All Roads in the Big 12 Go Through Lawrence

I won't bury the lead.

Last night's Border War between Kansas and Missouri was everything a rivalry game should be: passionate, intense, emotional and down to the wire.

Regardless of any preseason expectations, I think it's safe to say Kansas will always be at the top of the conference. They're talented and well-coached, not to mention being backed by a rabid fanbase that creates a fantastic homecourt advantage. So even though they weren't picked to win this year, it's hard to believe they wouldn't put up a fight. Now, of course, everyone is singing a different tune. And even though Missouri had the higher ranking heading into the game, I got the feeling they were considered a little bit of an underdog.

I wish I could have been at that arena last night....WOW. It was a completely electric atmosphere--so much so you would have thought the Jayhawks were walking in ranked #1.

The game started fast, the crowd fed off the pace, the teams fed off the crowd and it stayed close--13 lead changes in the first half alone. The one thing I thought was interesting was that Kansas seemed to really find it easy to go inside...and yet didn't really exploit that enough.

The difference-maker in that first half was the explosiveness of Mizzou's guards and in particular, the play of Marcus Denmon. Homeboy's been in something of a shooting slump the last few games and chose this opportunity to bust out of it in a big way.

The 2nd half was a bit of a different story. KU came out really aggressive and finally seemed to be taking advantage of their size--grabbing rebounds, scoring in transition, hitting the offensive boards and getting 2nd chance 8-0 run later, they were on top.

With about 4 minutes left in the game, Mizzou went cold from 3, started forcing some bad shots and I even turned to my friend and said, "looks like Kansas is about to run away with it..."

Then a couple of interesting things happened. With just under 2 minutes to go, KU's Thomas Robinson (who'd been lighting it up in the 2nd half) drove down the lane and got called for an offensive foul--which just happened to be his 4th personal. On the ensuing possession, the hero of the hour, Marcus Denmon, came off a screen and hit a HUGE 3. BAM. Momentum = shifted.

From that point on, it was all Tigers. Kansas seemed to go into desperation-mode (which I've seen them do a couple times this year), making stupid frustration fouls and allowing themselves to get out of control when trying to draw contact on the offensive end (usually resulting in offensive fouls and turnovers). If they want to be successful come March, that HAS to stop. Tourney games are often tight and come down to the wire (I know, a statement worthy of Captain Obvious) and losing your poise is what sends you home.

Of course, I was excited to see Mizzou get a huge win and see my man, Phil Pressey get to shine! But the regular season is far from over and Missouri still has a few big obstacles in their way...the largest being a return trip to Phog Allen Fieldhouse in a few weeks. Suffice it to say the Jayhawks (and their fans) will be waiting.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Random Ramblings....

I promise that not every post will revolve around Michigan State.
Most of this post will sorry, but bear with me.
~As much as I have faith in my Spartans, I'm really concerned over the pattern I've seen so far this season. In close, late-game situations, they seem to be disorganized, out-of-control and tentative. This leads to silly mistakes, bad shots, careless turnovers and in 2 of 3 cases, a loss.
Exhibit A: MSU-Wisconsin. Michigan State was somewhat in control and just needed to run out the clock for their first victory at the Kohl Center since basically the dawn of time. However, that comfort slipped away in the waning seconds after Wisconsin hit a number of random 3s. Thankfully, Ryan Evans' last-second 3 at the buzzer was ruled no good and MSU escaped. But it shouldn't have ever happened. That shot was a REBOUND off another desperation 3 heave. As Izzo said, "all I saw was a missed shot that we didn't get the rebound." AMEN BROTHER!
Exhibit B: Draymond Green's weird lane floater thing against Michigan...I won't go into that game again. I'll just leave it there.
Exhibit C: Michigan State vs. Illinois: Keith Appling's weird lane-driving floater and then no MSU rebounds.
I realize a lot of this can be chalked up to inexperience and that's fine--it's a young team and I know they'll learn from it. I'm just wondering how long it will take. Does this need to happen 5 more times before they break through? Or is it something that will see dividends come March? Or will we have to wait until next season after one more summer of seasoning? I don't really know, but I HOPE it happens sooner than later. My heart can't handle this all the time.
~The technical foul on Draymond Green: Silly? Yes--but understandable. It's been made very clear that the coordinator of officials, John Adams, wants refs to crack down on the disrespect from players and coaches all around. And that's fine. The rules should apply to EVERYONE, even a kid like Green who is rarely criticized for anything by anyone. He needs to watch himself just like all the rest of them. Which begs the question..
~Did anyone else notice the ridiculous amount of time Dan Dakich and Mike Tirico spent talking about Draymond Green's technical foul against Illinois? I mean, I get that the game was horrible and they were struggling for subject matter....but they seriously spent 15-20 minutes of real time discussing the memo from John Adams. At one point I actually YELLED AT THE TV and was like, "OK! We get it!! There was a memo! MOVE. ON." There were even a few times that I THOUGHT they moved on and were talking about something else and then Tirico would be like, "So back to that memo..." This happened FOUR TIMES. FOUR TIMES. And in case you're wondering, yes, he DID read the memo in its entirety. I normally enjoy Dakich and have no particular feelings one way or the other about Tirico, but last night they were getting on my last Polish nerve.
~I'm obsessed with Mizzou. OBSESSED. Their guards are insane, in the best possible way. They're lighting quick in transition, can slice through the lane and then just when you think you've stopped them, they pass it out to a different guard who hits a 3. They all seem to be pretty unselfish as well--they have great court vision and always seem to know where their teammate it and whether or not theirs is the best shot. It's awesome to watch. I also feel the national media jumping on my Flip Pressey bandwagon. Please see other blog entries from the past season where I declare my love for him. Climb on up people! There's still plenty of room!
~Speaking of Mizzou...I cannot WAIT for Mizzou-Kansas on Saturday. Can. Not. Wait.
~In other Big 12 news, Texas has a lot of young players and are in a sort of "down" year...but I bet that's not the case in 2012-2013.
~While we're talking attention to how much the announcers like to say the name "Myck Kabongo." I want to know if I'm the only one who thinks they all love his name and so they use it WAY more than necessary.
~Also, can anyone explain to me the recent trend of players spelling their name M-y-c-k (pronounced "Mike")? I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I just haven't seen it before.
~Sigh. Oh Xavier. What happened to you?
~Not to be critical, but Anthony Davis' unibrow has GOT to go. Please. It's so distracting I almost forget how good he is. Almost.
~My friends and I used to keep a running tally of number of times that Tyler Hansborough was mentioned during a broadcast, even when UNC wasn't playing. I'm thinking of modifying this to fit the Zeller brothers. I feel like this would be an amazing game during March could, you know, take a sip of water or something...every time they talked about them....
~People are already talking about bubble teams. Isn't a little early for that? Let's wait until the end of February at least...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beyond the Rivalry

Greetings friends!

One of my goals for 2012 is to blog every week. Given that this is my first post and it's the middle of January, I'd say I'm off to a rocky start.

But fear not! I'm committing to it AT LEAST once per week from now until the end of the tournament.

As of right now, all I can think about is last night's horrid Michigan-Michigan State game. And I mean horrid because of my dismay at the way my favorite team played. All the other factors were there: a great crowd, two teams coming off losses and fighting for position in the Big Ten, two great coaches, bragging rights...the stakes were high.

My initial thoughts on the match-up were that MSU would have to contain Trey Burke on the penetration, defend the 3 and rebound their faces off. I figured they had so much size on the inside that State's bigs would eat UM for lunch.

Safe to say that didn't happen.

I applaud the Spartans for fighting back and grabbing the lead late in the second half--whatever mistakes they had made previously wasn't enough for them to give up on the game. And I LOVED that. But for most of the game, I didn't love what I saw.

Overall, I felt like Michigan played to WIN and MSU played not to lose. Their defense (in both the loss to Northwestern and to Michigan) was spotty, their shot selection was very poor and they were extremely soft inside. I give a lot of credit to Michigan as well. They're tough, they're scrappy and they NEVER give up....that tenacity has won them a lot of games regardless of how they match up with the other team on paper.

(Oh and P.S. Denard? THAT'S what it's like when a Michigan team beats Michigan State. Figured I would point it out since you have no idea what that feels like. ZING!! Sorry, I had to.)

Here's the bottom line: Rivalry aside, I was really disappointed with State's performance on the whole. I don't mind losing if you give it everything you have and it just doesn't go your way (i.e. the UNC and Duke games). I mind losing when it's a game like that. As I said before, I love the way they fought back, but at that point it was too little, too late. And what really irks me? The fact that a win like that would have put them at the TOP of the Big Ten allllll alone....but the loss brings them into a 4 way tie for first. And it only gets murkier from here on out.

I am confident though that the coaches AND the players are unhappy with back to back losses. I am also confident that they'll all come out guns blazing.

At the beginning of the season, I never expected anyone to make it through the Big Ten undefeated. The league is too good and home court advantage holds too much weight. I walked around confidently predicting that while we would be better than the media gave credit for (see previous entries), the real different maker in the league would be those people that can 1.) Protect their home court and 2.) sneak out a couple of road wins anywhere possible. Since MSU stole one up at Wisconsin (and I admit, I NEVER thought that would happen until it did), I feel slightly better about things.

But at this point, in order to contend, MSU HAS to win out at home and will need to steal a victory from Illinois, and any combo of Indiana, Purdue and Ohio State.

Only time will tell.