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...