SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Trip to the Final Four in WVB and Attempting to Stay Focused in MBB: Match & Game Threads
Dec 9th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Alyssa Garvelink (17), Holly Toliver (18) and Rachel Minarick (12) help lead MSU to the Elite Eight.

It is a busy Saturday in early December for MSU Athletics.  It also appears Saturday is date night for TUS members; including one who appears to have become smitten with a Alabama SEC Belle. It my understanding TUS Compliance is reviewing regulations on the latter.

The Women’s Volleyball team is the headliner as they try to earn a trip to the NCAA Final Four in Volleyball tonight [8PM ET ESPNU). Standing in the #12 Spartans way is the #1 Nitany Lions (32-1).  The NCAA Regional Final is being held on Penn State’s home court in State College.  MSU will have to play near perfect if it is to advance.  MSU is 7-44 all-time and 0-7 in its last matches.  The Spartans lost 3-1 in each of this season’s matches.  However, both were close with MSU having many chances to steal the victory in each contest.

The Women’s and Men’s Basketball squads are playing the 3rd (of 5) Home double-headers.  The Spartan ladies (5-3) take on Rhode Island (1-7) (2:00PM ET BTN+).  The #3 Spartan Men (7-1) take on Southern Utah (5-3) (6PM ET BTN).

Time on the Pine or its 21st Century Version
Dec 6th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Nick Ward.

Michigan State University Basketball Head Coach Tom Izzo is a passionate man who wears his emotion on his sleeve.  Do you want to know Tom’s current position on the immediate subject in question?  Simply take a look at him.  And if you are within a quarter-mile shouting distance the vocal narrative is additive.  Add the Italian linage of vibrant body posture and the picture before you can be one of brutal honesty and full-color.

Izzo like some of the true greats in the basketball coaching realm (i.e., John Wooden), are teachers and instructors who believe that basketball coaching is only a part of their overall role.  Their style may be different, but these kind of coaches believe they are instructors guiding young men into the next stage of adult life.  Izzo is human and therefore not perfect in the execution of his role. TUS Membership is constantly pointing out this fact.  However, step back and think about all of the players that have come through MSU under Izzo.  How many visibly grew as players and adults under his leadership – and openly thank him to this day.  I think the answer is many, many more than not.

Tom Izzo believes great defense creates the equal result on offense.  And the teams with superior defense and good or better offense ultimately win over lesser’s.  To play a material long-term role on a Tom Izzo team you have to be (or become) skilled in your defensive role.  Who was the player Izzo said could not guard the opposition even if the game was being performed in a Phone Booth?

So now we come to the current crew at MSU,  The 2017-18 Spartans appear to be the deepest and most balanced team in years – perhaps ever.

A couple of key players on the team, Nick Ward and Cassius Winston have a tendency to take time off (while on the court) losing focus – especially on defense.  This style does not work for Tom Izzo and the last I heard he makes the call on playing lineup and playing time.

In last night’s Rutgers game – Winston and Ward were off their game.  Actually after 6 games in 12 days the whole team was off. A better than expected and fully motivated Rutgers team took advantage of the situation – making for a close game.  Izzo chose to play lineups that could deliver the defense needed to win the game.  The result? MSU held Rutgers to 25.8% shooting from the field and won the game. The implication?  Winston and Ward sat on the bench for long stretches.  On this night they did not answer the defensive bell.  Kenny Goins earned 19 minutes of playing time and as almost always was superb on defense.  Jaren Jackson earned 26 minutes and was stellar with 8 blocked shots.  Jackson was the offensive difference in the 2nd half with 11 points.

As is well documented Ward showed his emotion on the bench and let loose on his feelings after the game.  He wants to play and was frustrated.  Izzo said Ward simply had a bad game and not to read anything more into the situation.  No one can tell a person “how they feel.”  Therefore, I believe both Izzo and Ward are being honest and open with their feelings. Both effectively declared this night was in the rear-view mirror.

The ground rules for playing time at MSU are known and well established.  Do you want the opportunity for more playing time?  You know what to do.  It is that simple.

Is there a growing controversy or conspiracy?  If you are thinking one is growing at MSU look no further than the Ball Family Clan and U.C.L.A. for comparison.  Perhaps the Ball Family Clan can team up with Rick Pitino, and propose to MSU it drain the basketball swamp and they will come in and make MSU great again.  Some times change is needed.  In my opinion, Ward and Winston need to make the change.  If they do – they will be grateful in the end.

Note: MSU is now pushing their defensive field goal shooting for the season down towards 30%.  I have been told, no team to College basketball is within 3% of this number.

Thoughts?

PK80 Kick’s Off – Spartans Shake Loose Win Game 1 – UConn Next
Nov 24th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

 

MSU’s Matt McQuaid drives to the basket. Fouled he sank both shots from the Free-Thow Line.

16 Men’s and 4 Women’s teams – All of the teams are sponsored by Nike Athletics.

  

The 16 team – three day – one city Men’s tournament honoring 80 year-old Phil Knight kicked off on Thanksgiving in Portland Oregon.  The teams will play again on Friday and Sunday.  A four-team double-header for Women’s basketball honoring Knight will be played in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday. The event is the brainchild of Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis and has been six-years in the making.

Michigan State University is represented in both the Men’s and Women’s events.

After beating DePaul (73 – 51) late on Turkey Day, the Spartans Men’s (3-1) team will face the Huskies of the University of Connecticut(4-0) at 11:59 PM ET (ESPN).  UConn defeated Phil Knight’s Alma-Mater; Oregon 71-63.

The MSU vs. UConn theme continues on Saturday as the Women’s teams face off in Eugene 11AM ET (ESPN3).

In the game against DePaul, MSU was in the giving mood in the first half.  Turnovers, fouls, allowing for open shots and, disinterest in rebounding was the theme.  At one point in the first half – four of the five Spartan Starters were sitting on the bench with 2 fouls.  The game was tied 31-31 at the half for a few basic reasons.  Despite a multitude of opportunities DePaul shot poorly from the field (25%).  For the Spartans it was Matt McQuaid’s 3-4 and Josh Langford’s 2-3 shooting from beyond the arc that kept MSU close.

In the 2nd half MSU got their act together;  fewer turnovers, more rebounding and continued good shooting.  The result: a 22 point gap favoring MSU.  McQuaid continued his hot hand shooting another set of 3-4 from beyond the arc.  Jared Jackson contributed heavily in point and rebounds (finishing with 13-10).  For the 2nd straight game Freshman Xavier Tillman made the most of his 14 minutes contributing 6 points and gathering 4 rebounds.

 

Two Topics for One: Lack of Depth on the Bench and MSU Men’s Basketball Gamethread (Stoney Brook)
Nov 19th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Topic #1:  Lack of Depth on the Bench.

MSU’s victory in College Football left a lot to be desired.  However a win-is-a-win and there should be no discounting the Spartans turn-around.  Go Green!

However, can the broadcast networks be doing a poorer job of providing sportscasters and commentators for these regional\national contests? And the half-time talent?  Big names with little-to-no background covering and commenting on the college game.

Let us put the subject of bias off to the side.  Way off to the side!

Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman were about as bad as it gets.  Both were ill-prepared. Their game-call was mistake-ridden from start to finish.  It would probably be easier to count the number of times a play sequence did not include some type of announcing error.  And hey,wasn’t it great that MSU Alum Holly Sonders was the field reporter!  Did we get a report from the field? Seriously! Other than the self engrandizing “coming home” half-time segment, did Holly actually make a report from the field while the game was in progress?  Holly covers golf (with a good deal of competence).  College football?  Shame on you FOX!

As we are all aware, the issue is not isolated to this game or FOX.  What has happened?  Not enough money left-over after the payment to the conferences to hire good talent?  Too many games broadcast and not enough time for preparation?  Potential Announcers know that USMC(retired) and JerseyJohn are going to offer public ridicule so they have chosen another profession?  For example, where are the days of ABC Wide World of Sports and Jim McKay, Bill Flemming, and Chris Schenkel.  Gosh, Chris Schenkel’s call made bowling exciting! Do I have Rose Colored Glasses on this topic?

Topic #2: MSU Men’s Basketball Gamethread (Stoney Brook)

The Spartans take on Stoney Brook.  The Seawolves play in the American East Conference.  They are 0-3 so far this year – losing all games by double-digits.

If you are saying to yourself “hey why I am thinking Stoney Brook as being a pretty good team.”  Stoney Brook used to be a good team.  The Seawolves jumped into Division 1 basketball at the turn-of-the century (gosh that sounds weird).  Coach Steve Pikiell was retained soon after and Stoney Brook starting winning at a high-level.  From 2009-2016 Stoney Brook almost always finished around 22 and something, play in the American East Conference Title Game (usually losing to Vermont) and go to the NIT\CBI.  In 2016 Stoney Brook won the American East Title and made the NCAA Tournament – losing to Kentucky as #13 seed.  Pikiell was hired by Rutgers.  Jeff Boals left his position as an Assistant Coach at the Ohio State and was named Head Coach at Stoney Brook last season.  The Seawolves finished 17-12.

The Seawolves lost 76-61 (in Uniondale NY) to the team representing the heritage of Henrietta Maria of France and Queen Consort of England and Ireland.

Visitors Representing Mary’s Land Travel to East Lansing – Spartan Football Gamethread
Nov 18th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Henrietta Maria of France – Queen Consort of England and Ireland. Mother of the Maryland Terrapins.

The up and down and highly unpredictable Terrapins of Maryland (4-6) are in East Lansing take on the Spartans of Michigan State (7-3) in college football.  The Terrapins need to win both games in order to become Bowl Elegibile.  That is unless there are not enough eligible teams and Maryland is at the top of the losers bracket (best 5-7 record and best graduation rate).  The Spartans are playing for bigger prizes.

All Smiles on MSU and Miles
Nov 6th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

The regular season for men’s college basketball at Michigan State begins Friday night against North Florida in East Lansing.

The Spartans and Sophomore Miles Bridges are the media darlings to start the 2017/18 season.  Only Duke (aka DUCK according to TH) tops MSU in love from the media. Most of TUS Membership winces (in discomfort) when the MEDIA looks favorably on MSU.  On these rare occasions, JJ is known to start looking for places to hide (witness protection programs, etc) so as not to jinx the Green & White.

MSU and Bridges are the headliners for today’s MBB launch on ESPN [here].  Ironically the lead story by Carvell Wallace is different than most of the ESPN hype.  It is actually a rather “deep” long format piece.  It is worth the reading.

The Associated Press came out with its pre-season All American Team [here].  Miles garnered the most votes.  So favored is Miles, that he led voting by a double digit margin – for only the 3rd time in the history of the AP.

As most of you know – I do not like the media hype.  Because if there are any bumps in the road during the course of the regular season – unneeded noise and drama usually occur – to exacerbate the situation.  If things go swimmingly – then the Media attention and pressure to win it all get even greater.  I hope this MSU squad can successfully weather to attention and make the Final Four.  However this is challenging for any team.

Football Notes:

Good news… no GREAT NEWS.  MSU is a 14.5 to 15.5 point underdog for Saturday’s game.  ODDShark has MSU losing by 18 (40-22).

I hope that MSU Head Coach Mike DEAntoni, his three legged dog JustABum, and his young over-matched team can find transportation down to Columbus for the schooling by the Acorns.

Weather Forecast:  Cloudy High 44 degrees. It is supposed to rain Sunday.  Encourage the weather system to speed up so that is rains during the game.

Leaving Behind Allows for What’s Ahead
Nov 5th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

It is November 2017 and football at MSU is relevant in the B1G and national landscape.  This condition is Mark Dantonio’s stated position – has been for some time. With its seven hour walk off field-goal 27-24 victory over Penn State  the Spartans control their destiny for a B1G Title in November for the 5th time in the last 7 seasons.

If the media and television Accounts of MSU were to be believed you would think the Spartans had returned from 100 years of isolation on the Front and that all other appearances on the national stage were rare flukes. A number of TUS members hint at and or openly claim a Media Conspiracy.  I do not.  The Media – on the whole – ain’t smart enough.  For the most part, the Media is just lazy and sloppy.  It is easier to follow what is being fed than actually covering the event.  It is easier to play to the masses (e.g., Walmart Wolverines who tune into Fox in Michigan or Fastfood Buckeyes who watch ESPN in Ohio) than actually provide intelligent insightful coverage.

All the positives of the Mark Dantonio Era at MSU up to New Years Eve 2015 seemed to evaporate before the eyes of its fans during the CFP National Semi-Final. The off-season, and 2016 season were the equivalent of driving into a parked car on a dark street at night in an unfamiliar city and living through an endless wait to establish clarity on the implication.

The very public and seemingly rapid demise of what we had come to know as MSU football left many in shock and disbelief.  Worse, this situation was occurring on Dantonio’s watch. Also it was hard not to believe it could be foreshadowing of misery to come.

Were the ghosts of Denny Stolz, Muddy Waters, and John L. Smith rattling their chains with great effect?  Where were Biggie and Duffy?

In the 22 months since the CFP wipeout in Dallas the Dantonio Administration has been subject to the grist-mill of life.  Events and situations highly uncharacteristic of the Dantonio program became fodder for the sports blogs.

It would have been easy for Mark Dantonio to use the current trick of diversion – claim fake news or the old one – claim it is the fault of all others.  Dantonio is above those lame tactics.

Instead of falling victim to tactics used by true losers, Dantonio played things straight and for the long term.  Ever the honest broker Dantonio while not lying or providing what would prove to be dishonest or mis-leading statements – laid low and provided information and thoughts when appropriate.  While not sexy, flashy or Breaking News worthy – it was smart.

Dantonio used the time to restore the foundation of the team and also make adjustments (play Freshman and pass the ball) where appropriate.  While never dramatic or fast enough for fans the return to a good foundation and changes are proving to be beneficial.

It is November. MSU heads to Columbus in control of its destiny.  MSU is the perceived underdog.  Few expect MSU to win.  The perfect Dantonio formula.  What could be better?  Ohh… BAD WEATHER!

Spartans at Wildcats Football – Gamethread.
Oct 28th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

MSU takes on Northwestern in college football.  Game time 3:30PM (EDT) on ESPN.

MSU Men’s Basketball Kicks Off 2017/2018 Season! – Ferris State at MSU Exhibition Simulcast
Oct 26th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

The Spartans Men’s plays Ferris State at 7PM!

Check your email for details on the TUS virtual tailgate!

Hoosiers at Spartans Football – Gamethread
Oct 21st, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

  

Liberty University takes on Monmouth (1PM ET ESPN3) and Indiana travels to East Lansing, MI to take on the Spartans (3:30PM ET ABC).  Those are key college games for TUS Membership.  The Astros host the Yankees in game 7 of the American League Championship Series (6:08PM ET FOX).  UofM takes on Penn State (7:30PM ET ABC) and Notre Dame and USC battle (7:30PM ET NBC).

So there are lot’s of events of which to focus and comment.

Also high on the list of things to do, is continued projections of what The Marine will ultimately settle on as the Moniker for Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire.  Dr. Real Irony of the Naming Institute For Society (NIFS) says that Vegas betting had established “Forest Fire” as a early 3-1 favorite followed by “Plant Manager” at 7-1.  However Irony feels USMC(retired) ultimately will settle on a better Moniker given his skill of blending the arcane with the notable.  She thinks that Hortus Conclusus might prove to be a solid choice given the limitations Gardenhire might experience with Detroit.

The IU sports beat writer for the newspaper in Bloomington Indiana say the Hoosiers have been focusing during practice this week on:

1. Containing MSU’s Quarterback

2. Stripping the ball from MSU’s Running Back.

The Spartans are favored by 6+

Go Green.

SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa
© Copyright, The Usual Suspects - All rights reserved.