Saturday, January 10, 2009

Michigan State Too Much for Kansas 75-62

Once again, Kalin Lucas led the Spartans to a victory over the Kansas Jayhawks. He finished with 22 points including 3-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Although Sherron Collins ended up with more points (25), Lucas came away with the better overall performance. He clearly is living up to his preseason billing of being one of the best point guards in the nation.

Player of the Game - Kalin Lucas 22 points, 3-4 3-pt

What went well for MSU:
1) Rebounding - The Spartans continued to dominate the boards on both ends of the floor with a +11 margin. They effectively neutralized all of the Kansas rebounders except for Aldrich who still managed to gather 11 missed shots. They did especially well in limiting offensive rebounds holding the Jayhawks to half of their season average (7). For the Spartans, it was a total team effort as four players had five or more rebounds. This is a testament to how much Tom Izzo preaches about winning the rebound margin.
2) Kalin Lucas - He set the tone for the game by hitting early three pointers and snapping the Spartans cold start to the game. He even hit 9 of 10 free throws which has been uncharacteristic of MSU so far this year.
3) Free Throws - The team finished 26-35 from the free throw line which calculates to 74%. What was even more impressive than these stats was that the team shot over 82% in the second half when you would think there would be more pressure on the players to convert their freebees.
4) Defense of TWalt - Travis Walton played outstanding defense on Sherron Collins today. The box score doesn't really correlate with this assessment, however, as Collins finished with 25 points.

What didn't go well for MSU:
1) Goran Suton - He continues to struggle. Throughout his last three games, he has been a liability on the defensive end. Cole Aldrich, however, is a great player and it is probably asking too much for Suton to handle him defensively. Furthermore, Goran was sick and apparently vomiting the night before. He did still manage to hit two long-range jumpers that were key in the second half.
2) Raymar Morgan - Once again, he had a game that looks good on paper with 13 points and 8 rebounds, but I didn't really even notice him out there on the court. To his credit, he hit 7-11 from the line which shows that he was trying to attack the basket, but it still seemed like he dissappeared in another big game. The difference was that instead of going solely through him for offense, Izzo opened things up and allowed Lucas to contribute with regards to scoring. All in all, I'll happily take 13 points and 8 rebounds from Morgan any day.

Why Kansas lost:
1) They ignored Cole Aldrich - In the first few minutes, it was apparent that Suton couldn't guard or score on this guy. Kansas exploited this and got off to an early lead. But, then once Lucas got hot, they got away from getting Aldrich the ball. I think this was a mistake by Bill Self as Cole Aldrich appeared like a dominate force in the paint. I would have tried to slow the game down and feed the big fella' all night.
2) Rebounding - Their strength coming into this game was rebounding, but they soon found out that collectively, the Spartans are a better rebounding team. Aldrich was the only Jayhawk with more than 3 rebounds.
3) Poor free throw shooting - The Jayhawks finished just over 60% for the game, 14% off of their average.

The key to today's victory was obviously the play of Kalin Lucas. Without question, he dominated offensively and again provided the spark that the Spartans needed to get the win. It was nice to see Michigan State come back from such a poor start and then essentialy dictate the rest of the game. It was disappointing, though, to see them let the Jayhawks cut it to within 9 towards the end of the game. I guess I'll just be happy with the victory.

"They [Kansas] could have collapsed in the second half and they didn't. At the same time, you have to give us a little blame. When are we going to learn to finish games?" -Tom Izzo

That is a good question coach. I wonder that everytime that we have a big lead. I think that Coach changes how he coaches games when he gets up on teams and isn't as aggressive. Keep the pedal to the metal coach!

"He [Cole Aldrich] is a really good player, but we're not doing enough to help him out." - Kansas coach Bill Self

I agree coach. It's pretty easy to correct. Just tell your guards to get it to the big man. He's the tall white guy who camps out down in the lane. Feed him! Feed him! Thank you for not perfecting this before playing us.

Vacation - I will be leaving for Jamaica tomorrow and will not be back until Sunday, Jan 18th.
I may be able to make a quick post while on vacay, but I'm unsure. Please check back.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kansas Preview

Kansas (11-3 overall, 0-0 in the Big 12)

Key Wins:
vs Washington 73-54 (neutral court)
vs Tenessee 92-85

Key Losses:
Syracuse 89-81 OT (neutral court)
UMass 61-60 (neutral court)
at Arizona 84-67

Why Kansas could win:
1) Solid Defense - The Jayhawks enter this game with impressive defensive statistics. They are holding their opponents to 38% shooting from the field and are second in the Big 12 in blocks averaging just over 5 per game. If they can pressure Michigan State defensively, it could be a long day for the Spartans.
2) Good Rebounding - Kansas is second in the Big 12 in regards to rebounding margin at +7.6 per game. They are especially good at offensive rebounding averaging over 14 per game. I don't see any way that Michigan State can win if they were to get out rebounded by the Jayhawks. It should be a very interesting subplot to the game.
3) Great FT shooting - Unlike MSU, Kansas is hitting their free throws with great success. As a team they are converting on 73% of their attempts. If it is a close game or if the referees get whistle happy, they will have the advantage.
4) Sherron Collins - A strong individual performance by their star guard could lead Kansas to a victory. He can run the floor, is a great passer, and can score when he needs to. He currently is averaging over 17ppg and 5 assists.
5) Cole Aldrich - He is having a great sophomore year after hardly seeing the floor during Kansas' championship run last year. He is second on the team in scoring at 15.7 ppg and leads the team with 9.9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per contest. He is listed at 6-11, 245lbs and has had 8 double-doubles so far this season. I expect him to be a dominant force in the middle on both ends of the court. He may be the difference in this game.

Why Michigan State could win:
1) The Spartan offense is rolling - The Spartans are on an incredibly hot shooting streak since losing to North Carolina. They are averaging nearly 80 ppg and holding their opponents to 61ppg. Their three point shooting has seen a drastic improvement, especially since they have started conference play. They will need this hot shooting streak to continue if they want to counter the high scoring Kansas offense.
2) Rebounding- As mentioned above, the rebounding margin will be key to a MSU victory. I believe that both teams win games primarily by focusing on rebounding. I think the Spartans will have the advantage in this area due to the emphasis that Coach Izzo places on cleaning up the boards.
3) Kalin Lucas is on fire - He is having a great second half of the season. Since the Oakland game, he has a scoring dimension to his game that only adds to an already superb assist/turnover ratio. Hopefully he can continue this in front of a national audience.
4) Poor KU 3-pt defense - So far this season, KU is allowing opponents to shoot more than 34% from beyond the arc. Look for Chris Allen and Kalin Lucas to get plenty of opportunities to shoot the long ball. If they get hot, the Jayhawks will be a world of trouble.
5) Deeper Bench - Kansas has only 7 players that average more than 10 minutes per game. This is unusual because they really like to push the ball up the court. If the contest becomes a run and gun type of game, Michigan State will have the advantage due to a deeper bench.

At first glance, this game appears to be a hot Michigan State team playing a rebuilding Kansas team that probably lacks the talent that they are used to in Lawrence. But after looking at the two teams on paper, the two teams appear to be very similar in regards to their strengths and weaknesses. Both are averaging close to 80 points per game and both rely heavily on offensive rebounding to do so. Because of this, I think who ever wins the rebounding battle will ultimately win the game. The obvious player to watch out for is Sherron Collins. He can heat up quickly and really dictate a game. But, I am really worried about Cole Aldrich and his 8 double-doubles so far this season. Our interior defense has not been good since we started conference play and he could cause Suton to get into foul trouble early.

In the end I see the Spartans winning the battle on the boards and coming away with the victory in dramatic fashion.

MSU over Rock-Chalk-Jayhawk 81-79

Tomorrow: I will be trying to get a Kansas post game post up, but I am leaving early Sunday to go to Jamaica for a week. I may have a guest blogger during this time as I do not think I will have internet access.

MSU Notes

MSU Related News:
1) Izzo plans on pushing the ball against Kansas - Stated in the LSJ. The article can be found here. Coach Izzo stated that we will see a Lucious and Lucas lineup also.

2) Izzo thinks some recruits are wrongly advised regarding the Spartan offense - The same article discusses how some recruits are turned off by MSU's traditional offense. There is no question that certain kids don't want to go to Michigan State because of this. Even though we lead the Big Ten in scoring, I wouldn't say that we are an offensive powerhouse. We have the capability to put big numbers on the scoreboard, but I'm not sure if we can do it consistently. For better or worse, we win games by solid defense and great rebounding. That is Michigan State. So, instead of trying to convince people otherwise, he should just promote these aspects of the team.

3) The Morris Peterson jersey retirement not likely to happen - The Detroit News is reporting that the uncertainty is based on Peterson's practice schedule. The Hornets have a game on Friday night and then a Saturday morning practice.

Other Notes:
1) Interesting recruiting analysis - Someone at the University of Minnesota did a great analysis on Big Ten basketball recruiting over the last 10 years. It can be found here. It essentially shows which teams were the most successful in recruiting top 100 athletes and which teams got the most out of their talent. Michigan State leads the list in the number of top 100 players which is good, but unfortunately, they are tied for the second best conference record during this time period. This website also validates Wisconsin as the most overachieving team in the Big Ten with only landing 11 top 100 players in the last year but still finishing at the top of the conference.

2) Florida Gators win their second national championship in 3 years - Led by Tim Tebow, the Gators captured another BCS championship. I found it hard to really get into this game. Maybe it was because it was played a week after New Year's Day. I don't know. Anyways, is anyone turned off by Tim Tebow's super Christian-ness? Here is an article for you from The Enlightened Spartan. They refer to Tim Tebow as the anti-Brittney Spears. His girlfriend (pictured to the right) doesn't look like the anti-Brittney.

3) Mick McCabe thinks recruits are taking their school decision announcements to far - Can be found here. I don't disagree with him, but I think it is just part of the spectacle that the media drives. Also, on some level, it has happened for decades. Do you remember in Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball when they showed Magic's press conference? That seemed like a big deal to me.

That's Ridiculous:
1) Bill Romanowski inquires about the Denver Broncos head coaching job - He'll get that job right after Pac Man Jones is named VP of operations.

2) Woman cheats on same man she received a kidney from - What a dirtbag! The man is getting a divorce and says that he wants the kidney back or the cash equivalent which he says is 1.5 million dollars. Couldn't these guys just have waited to announce this on Jerry Springer? Link is here.

Tomorrow - Kansas Preview

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Izzo Starts to Limit the Bench

After watching the first three conference games, I wanted to address the substitution patterns of Coach Izzo. Earlier in the year I had mentioned that Tom Izzo normally starts the year off playing 10-11 guys and by tournament time, he whittles it down to 7 or 8. (Story can be found here). Well, I think we are beginning to see this early in conference play. It appears that we have solidified our regular starting five and we know that Allen, Summers, and either Gray or Ibok are going to be the guys coming in off the bench. Sure, occasionally some of the others are going to get into the game, but they shouldn't see extensive playing time barring a disaster.

This is the way I like it. I'm not very fond of letting players like Green, Thornton, and Dahlman get chunks of playing time in meaningful games just so they can get experience. That is what practice is for. We need to put our best players on the court as much as we can and then substitute as the need arises. I don't feel that Coach Izzo always does this, especially early in the non-conference portion of our schedule. This may account for the disparity that can be found between his regular season and post-season accomplishments.

Michigan State Notes:
1) Joe Rexrode misses the Izzone - Find the article here. Undoubtedly, the team misses students, but I don't think they necessarily miss the Izzone. Having been a member of the Izzone during the glory years ('97-01), I honestly can say that the impact of this formal student section is vastly overrated. Don't get me wrong, I think the group brings an energy that was lacking before the Izzone was created, but they are no Cameron Crazies.
2) No official word regarding the retirement of Morris Peterson's jersey - I don't really understand how MSU doesn't know by now. We will have to wait and see.

Around the Big Ten:
1) Michigan pulls one out in overtime against IU - Didn't see the game, but they obviously struggled. IU had an open look for the game winner at the end of regulation but couldn't convert. Michigan then capitalized on this and came home with the victory. I can't really figure the Wolverines out.
2) Wisconsin destroyed Northwestern - Northwestern continued to live and die by the three point shot. In this game, they definitely died. They finished 3-17 from beyond the arc. On the other hand, Wisconsin appears to be living up to their reputation of flying somewhat under the radar only to capture yet another Big Ten championship. In my opinion, the schedule is definitely in their favor as they do not have to travel to the Breslin Center this year.

Hey Sparty Basketball,

That was a great win, we're 3-0! ........Suton looks continually out-matched on defense. He is getting beat everytime and I think it is time to get Ibok and Gray a few more minutes if only for the improved effort/athleticism. Lucas, however, continues to impress.
-A-Fed, Saginaw

Yeah, Suton has not looked good in his last two games, especially on the defensive end. Maybe his knee is still hurting him. Hopefully he snaps out of this funk quickly.

I can't tell you why Izzo didn't play Gray more and why Ibok didn't even see the floor. It doesn't make sense. My argument against Gray would be that you don't know how much effort he is going to give you. He's a true basketcase that will hit for 18 points one night and then zero points and 5 turnovers the next.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Spartans Get Past the Buckeyes 67-58

Led by Kalin Lucas and his twenty points, Michigan State won its eighth consecutive game. The Spartans overcame a cold start as they missed 11 of their first 15 shots.

Player of the Game:
Kalin Lucas 20 points on 6-8 shooting.

What went well:
1) Kalin Lucas - He continued his recent domination of opponents by limiting turnovers and scoring effectively. Kalin has really stepped his game up and has done a complete 180 compared to the start of his season. Now he is truly living up to his super sophomore preseason hype.
2) Defense of Jon Deibler - Well, it probably was a combination of solid defense and his poor shooting. He came into this game extremely hot, but didn't shoot the ball well against us. He finished 2-8 from the field including 1-6 from behind the arc.
3) Three-point shooting - MSU finished 8-17 from three-point land making this the second consecutive game where they have shot better than 45% from distance. When we shoot the ball like that, we are extremely difficult to beat.
4) Rebounding - The Spartans again won the battle of the boards with a +8 advantage. Ohio State did manage to grab 11 offensive rebounds which was surprising since they rank near the bottom of the Big Ten in rebounding percentage.
5) Raymar Morgan - He had his third consecutive double-double despite poor shooting going 5-14 from the field. You can find a Drew Sharp column discussing how everything is coming together for Morgan here. Personally, I think this is way too premature. We need to see how Raymar plays against the best of the Big Ten. I also believe that the play of Lucas recently has been much more impressive than Morgan's.
6) Korie Lucious - He only played sparingly, but contributed solidly. I still believe that he is the most game ready freshman on this team. Watching him on the floor he appears that even might be a better passer than Lucas, although at this point statistics would not agree. I agree with Lavin on the idea that Izzo should try putting Lucious and Lucas on the floor at the same time. Heck, with both of those guys out there, the Spartans could really pressure the ball and force an uptempo game. Just an idea.

What didn't go well:
1) Shooting at the start of the game - Against a better team, we can't afford to get off to such a slow start. I would have liked to at least try to establish a presence inside initially. Instead, the very first shot was a three point attempt by Raymar Morgan. Eventually, however, we snapped out of our funk.
2) Goran Suton - This was his second consecutive performance where he struggled somewhat. He finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds which is respectable, but he went 2-6 from the line, made stupid fouls, and turned the ball over too much. Give credit to Dallas Lauderdale and BJ Mullens for their inside presence also. They combined for 5 official blocks, but altered many more shots than that.
3) Durrell Summers - Once again, Summers played essentially half of the game, but failed to impress. Yes, he did have three offensive rebounds which are invaluable, but he was 1-7 from the floor. I still think that he is shooting too many three pointers and needs to attack the basket more. I know he is currently shooting 48% from long distance, but I don't think that will last. Unlike Allen, he is not a pure shooter. He needs to be more like Mo Pete who could stroke it from distance, but preferred to take it to the hole if it was open. Please Summers, dunk more and shoot less.

Post Game Quotes:
"We found a way to win and that's the name of the game but I'm not sure we took a step forward today as far as getting better." - Tom Izzo

"We talked about pulling up, pulling up, pulling up and we just wanted to keep taking it in there so they could block shots."
-Tom Izzo on why he felt his gameplan didn't work

I find this second statement to be very interesting. Personally, I would prefer to attack shot blockers and force them into foul trouble. In fact, the Spartans essentially did this by forcing Lauderdale to the bench early in the first half. I would rather take my chances attacking the basket than settling for jump shots, especially in an era where athletes have not developed that mid-range game. But, he's the legendary coach and I write a blog.

That's ridiculous!
1) BJ Mullens' dunk and glare with thirty seconds left - What was this? Scoreboard you bastard! If I was Thad Matta, I would have called a time out and taken him out of the game right then just to prove a point. You can't be an idiot on national television.
2) The lame Breslin crowd - Nothing illustrated this more than when ESPN was having technical difficulties and switched to the WVU/UConn game. West Virginia's students were also on break, but their arena was loud and filled with plenty of excitement unlike the Breslin Center. From what I could see, the arena wasn't even full. Despite the poor atmosphere, the Spartans extended their home winning streak to 26 games.
3) Penn State basketball fans - Last night Penn State pulled off a shocking win over preseason Big Ten favorite Purdue in front of 4,014 people. Michigan State and North Carolina playing at Ford Field thinks this is ridiculous.
4) The Big Ten Tonight's stopwatch - The post game highlights timed how long it took Lucas to go baseline to baseline. He did it in 3.49 seconds. It wasn't exactly Tyus Edney though. No one really even guarded him. Thanks for the info though BTN.

Dear SpartyBasketball,

I have a few comments regarding your review of the "Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball Review":

1)Greg Kelser was excited to discuss his playing career. ANY athlete would talk like he did when they remember their career, especially when he was pretty much is in Ervin’s shadow historically speaking…and Kelser was a great player.. I am not sure he “loves” himself at all. If he did love himself, you’d hear about it all the time. I’ve met him a few times and he is the most gracious person.

2) Obviously, any coach is only as good as his players. Chuck Daily would not have taken the Pistons to two championships without his “Bad Boys”. UNC wouldn’t be going to the Finals without their Studs. Izzo did take that ’05 team to the Final Four because he was a very good coach and he got his players to play at the peak of their performance. They may have gone to the Finals if Anderson hadn’t torn up his knee- remember MSU was up by 5 points against UNC at the half, but then Anderson couldn’t answer the bell.

Anyway, keep up the good work. I enjoy reading the blog. Go Green!

-Mark, unknown location

First of all, I like Greg Kelser also. I was one year old when he was in his prime so I obviously don't know him as a player. I am familiar with how good he was though. From what I see of him on television now, I can see how he could be "the most gracious person". That is exactly why I found him to be so funny during the special. I especially liked the part where he said he noticed Larry Bird was guarding him and how he knew he was going to take advantage of it. Even if they knew it was true, most people would not call out Larry Legend like that. Apparently it was Greg's time to let the world know he was a college star.

Your second point is right on. Izzo got that 2005 team to peak at the perfect time. It was amazing.

Tomorrow: More Ohio State Post Game and I'll talk briefly about Tom Izzo's substitutions.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ohio State Preview

Today the Spartans will host The Ohio State for their Big Ten home opener. Michigan State has begun conference play with two impressive road wins and are looking to go 3-0.

The Ohio State (10-2 overall, 1-1 in the conference)

Key Wins:
at Miami (FL) 73-68
Notre Dame (neutral site) 67-62
Butler 54-51

Key Losses:
West Virginia 76-48
at Minnesota 68-59

Why they could win:
1) Evan Turner is legit - He leads the team in both scoring (16.2 ppg) and minutes played (33.8). He also has contributed solidly on the boards averaging 7.1 rpg. If the Buckeyes use the same starting lineup as they did against Minnesota, we will be in for a great matchup with him and Raymar Morgan going at it.
2) Jon Diebler is on fire of late - In his first two Big Ten games, he was 12-22 from beyond the arc. I expect him to shoot without hesitation against a Spartan defense that ranks near the bottom of the conference in 3-point FG% defense (8th).
3) Dallas Lauderdale is an underrated inside presence - Although he is only 6-8, he currently leads the Big Ten in shots blocked. I expect him to hassle Goran Suton in the middle. His offensive game, however, is less impressive.
4) The MSU students are still on break - Crowds don't win games, but they certainly help. I've been to a number of games during holiday breaks in recent years and they are kind of a downer. They lack the excitement of young college kids and this could prove to be the difference in a close game.

Why The Ohio State could lose:
1) The Spartan offense is rolling - It really seems to clicking right now and I don't see how the Buckeyes can stop them. Their best bet will be to slow the game down and hope that the Spartans help their cause by committing a lot of turnovers.
2) The Buckeye offense is struggling - They are having a difficult time scoring the ball so far this year, especially without David Lighty. In their last 5 games, they have average 57 ppg which is 9ppg below their average. I expect Evan Turner and Jon Diebler to try to carry the team offensively.
3) Lack of Depth - I am predicting that frequent substitutions by Michigan State will wear out the Buckeyes who essentially play 7 players. Look for B.J. Mullens to provide a presence inside with his tall frame, but let's hope that his breakout game doesn't happen against us. He hasn't lived up to the high expectations that he had coming out of high school, but he is tremendously talented and will contribute more as the year goes on.

Today, I think the Spartans clearly have the advantage over Ohio State. The Buckeyes are going through a lot of adversity right now with the injury to David Lighty and the recent transfer of back up PG Anthony Crater. These losses make the Buckeyes' bench incredibly thin and will force their starters to play extended minutes. In the end, I don't think that The Ohio State can produce enough offense to win this game. Barring a legendary game from Evan Turner, Michigan State will cruise to the victory at home, even if it is in front of a student-less Breslin crowd.

Michigan State over The Ohio State 79-65.

MSU Related News:
1) Raymar Morgan wins Big Ten Player of the Week - Congratulations to Raymar. On paper, the decision makes perfect sense. He averaged a double-double and shot more than 50% from the field. If you watched the games, however, I think Kalin Lucas played better overall. Raymar's performance against the Gophers was less than stellar even though he did have a double-double.
2) Michigan State to possibly retire Morris Peterson's jersey on Saturday. This was reported as a possibility by the Detroit News here. My question is, why don't you know yet? The game is four days! Did someone last week just come up with the idea? How was this not planned out already? I hope it does happen as I will be in attendance.

That's Ridiculous:
1) After graduation, Nikola Kecman plans to play basketball professionally - Kecman, a junior college transfer, will be eligible to play for the first time all season tonight. During the past offseason, he was cited by the NCAA for an infraction while playing basketball in his native country Bosnia. On his official Ohio State biography, the statement above was written. See it here. This just proves that no one goes to Ohio State for an education.
2) Dudes wearing nuts on their chest - I don't get it. Yeah, they are buckeyes, I know.....I still don't get it. Why do you want nuts on your chest? Can't you just wear a scarlet and gray jersey and be done with it? Paint your face if you have to. Just don't wear nuts around your neck. It's disturbing.
3) No updated pictures of Raymar Morgan available. I first noticed this two days ago when I posted a picture of him on the blog. I thought I just didn't look hard enough. Well, apparently, the Big Ten didn't look very hard either because they used the same picture that I did from last year. If this is true, we need to get Drew Stanton back so that he can revive our sports information department.
4) Matt Millen on NBC - I know it's a little late, but where does NBC get off putting Matt Millen on their broadcast? What credibility does this guy bring? Who wants to listen to the opinions of a guy who just ran a franchise into the ground? I turned off my station immediately when I saw him.

BTN's "Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball" was a great show. My wife and I snuggled up on the couch with a bottle of wine and a roaring fire in the background. What a wonderful way to spend an evening. I Like the site!
-SpartyMSU of

Ah..........Watching Spartan highlights and drinking booze with a woman. What more can you ask for? Thanks for the support.

Tim Doyle, that no-talent idiot can put an egg in his shoe and beat it. By the way, what round did he get drafted in? That's right, he just does commentary for a second-rate TV network and has gotten significantly chubby since leaving North-worstern. Now excuse me, I have to go put some water in Tim Doyle's momma's dish.
-A-Fed, Sagniaw

A-Fed, I like where your head is at. I don't remember Tim Doyle when he was a player at "North-worstern" but I think that pretty much sums up his career. I still think that it is impressive that someone thought enough of this guy to give him his job being that he just graduated 2 years ago. Even Doyle sees irony in his own bio where he describes breaking down NCAA tournament games on television despite never playing in a single one.

Tomorrow: Ohio State Post Game.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball Review

I finally watched the BTN's "Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball" yesterday. I thought that it was really good and did an excellent job of summarizing the history of the program. It was both informative and entertaining. Here is a quick list of things that popped in my head when I was watching.

1) Bob Knight helped Izzo - Of all people to give Tom Izzo confidence as he was about to start post-season play, I would never have guessed that it would come from Bobby. Apparently, after the Hoosiers pulled out a close victory over the Spartans at Indiana, he asked to talk to Izzo and told him that he had a team that could win it all.

2) The 2005 team had the biggest weekend in MSU history - Now that they mentioned it, I would have to agree. Not only did they beat Duke and Kentucky, they did it when most people thought they didn't have a chance against either one. It was a sweet redemption for that senior class who up until that point, mainly underachieved.

3) Magic Johnson almost went to Michigan - This was a big surprise to me. It makes total sense, but I just imagined him being a diehard MSU fan his whole life since he was from Lansing. Watching his high school press conference was pretty cool.

4) Greg Kelser loves Greg Kelser - I really like Special K, but when you listen to him on this program, he seems to think that he was the baddest guy around. It was surprising to see him so confident when talking about his career compared to how he conducts himself while broadcasting basketball games. He normally is reserved and talks on an even keel.

5) Where would Tom Izzo be if he didn't land the Flintstones - Undoubtedly, he wouldn't have went to four Final Fours, but would he have went to one? Would he have been able to land all of the subsequent recruits?

That's Ridiculous:
1) My Original Tim Doyle Post Yesterday - Yesterday, I originally posted an opinion on Tim Doyle's pre-game comments regarding Raymar Morgan being "the girl with the curl." In my blog, I told Tim it was a poor attempt at humor and that if he wanted to make fun of Raymar Morgan, there were other ways to do so rather than attacking personal appearances. Well, apparently, I am an idiot and did not understand that this is a reference to a nursery rhyme found here. I wanted to take this time to formally apologize for accusing Tim Doyle of being unprofessional.

"If Raymar Morgan wasn't on the floor, I really believe that Northwestern could have-, should have won the game." - Tim Doyle, Northwestern Alumnus and Big Ten Tonight Analyst.

What a classic statement. If the Bulls didn't have Michael Jordan in the early nineties, the Detroit Pistons would have beat Chicago also. But they did, and Michigan State has Raymar Morgan so let's stay away from hypotheticals.

Great past couple of games for Kalin Lucas - if he continues to mature, I really feel we are legit Final Four contenders. This is what we have been missing since Mateen left - a reliable point guard who creates opportunities but is not afraid to get to the rack and/or shoot jumpers if we need a bucket. - A-Fed, Saginaw

Indeed, Kalin Lucas is playing extremely well. Maybe he will even win the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week later today. He has had 42 points and 11 assists in his first two conference games. I would argue that we have had one point guard who could dish and score effectively since Mateen left. That guy was Marcus Taylor. But unfortunately, he got some bad advice from his dad and left prematurely. I wonder what he is doing these days. Thanks for the excellent email.

"U r a moron. dont write a basketball blog unless u actually have an understand of the game." - Anonymous Fan

I wanted to publish the first negative comment of my blogging career. I really appreciate this constructive criticism. In response, I would like to tell Mr. Anonymous that if he doesn't like this blog, he can always "turn off his station". Refer to this clip to understand more. Thanks for the email.

If you send it, I will read it.

Tomorrow: The Ohio State Preview. ( I couldn't get to it today)

Michigan State Handles Northwestern 77-66

The Spartans improved to 2-0 in conference play behind an amazing performance by Raymar Morgan who had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Kalin Lucas chipped in 18 points with 15 of them coming in the second half. This marks the first time in school history that the Spartans begin the Big Ten season with two victories on the road.

Player of the Game: Raymar Morgan 23 points and 13 rebounds

What went well:
1) Solid perimeter defense - Michigan State held Northwestern's three-point shooters to 9-29, which is well off of their 40% season average. In particular, Travis Walton did a very nice job pressuring the ball and frustrating his opponents. This Wildcat team seemed to be less disciplined compared to their teams in the past. Northwestern was too one dimensional just focusing on chucking up threes instead of running their Princeton Offense.
2.) Great rebounding - Hopefully this continues to be a recurring theme. The Spartans dominated the glass on both ends of the floor outrebounding the Wildcats 47-28. The 19-10 advantage in offensive rebounds was key in this victory.
3.) Raymar Morgan played a great game - He took full advantage of his athleticism against the less talented Wildcats and gathered his second consecutive double-double. It was almost as if he heard the comments made by Tim Doyle in the Big Ten Network's pregame show (more on this later). My only concern is that I hope his success from the 3-pt line (2-4) doesn't encourage him to shoot more from the outside in future games. I felt he got away with a few bad shots where he was clearly being defended, but the shots went down. I think he should only shoot from long distance if he is truly wide open.
4.) Kalin Lucas and Chris Allen continue to produce - Lucas had a slow start to the game, but really emerged in the second half. Chris Allen had his second consecutive productive game by shooting 4-7 from the 3-point line and finishing with 17 points. Hopefully he will continue to be a regular contributor to this team.
5.) Marquise Gray made a solid contribution - He only played 12 minutes, but was very productive with 5 rebounds and a nice no-look dish to Morgan for a jam. I thought he should have played more in the second half for Suton who was struggling.

What didn't go well:
1) Interior Defense - The Spartans looked horrible in defending the paint. Northwestern got a lot of easy buckets down low. Fortunately for us, they insisted on chucking threes from nearly half court.
2) Goran Suton - This was his worst performance of the year and is the prime example as to why Spartan fans sometimes refer to him as Moron Suton. His defense was definitely a liability as numerous defenders sped past him essentially untouched. He also struggled on the offensive end by bobbling numerous passes and loose balls. It seemed as if he had more turnovers than the one listed in the box score. Hopefully, this is the last we see of Moron and we will get Goran back for the rest of the year.
3) Durrell Summers - He played a significant amount of minutes in this game, but did not seem to utilize them very well. Yes, he had 3 offensive rebounds, but if I remember correctly, that was on the same offensive possession. He finished with only 6 points despite playing more than half of the game.
4) Turnovers - Overall, this wasn't really that big of a deal. But, in the first half, Kalin Lucas did not look sharp. He had all three of his turnovers during that time period leading to a team turnover margin of -5. In the second half, however, we tightened it up and finished with 13 total turnovers.

Post Game Quotes:
"Give Michigan State credit. It's a good team and in the second half, they really went at it in the first five minutes." -Northwestern Coach Bill Carmody

The early minutes of the second half were the key to the Michigan State victory. The Spartans went out to a 12-0 run that forced Bill Carmody to call 3 timeouts and commit a technical foul.

That's ridiculous!
1) Welsh Arena - Was this game even played on campus? Isn't there a standard for D-1 basketball arenas? I'm pretty sure that there is a rule that you can't play games at your local technical high school. The only thing Welsh Arena is missing is a bunch of volleyball lines marked out on the floor.

2) No Photos - Apparently, there were no photographers at the game last night. I've checked my usual websites and no one has any pics from the game. Even the MSU website put up a picture of Raymar Morgan from last year. I'll chalk this one up to the economy.

This post has been edited and will be explained why tomorrow.

"SpartyBasketball, I like your blog. I'm also glad you've learned your lesson on predictions. . . how many was Minnesota supposed to beat State by?
-Anonymous Spartan, Whittier, California

Well, we can only be happy that I was wrong about my Minnesota prediction. I can't predict when we are going to play our best game of the season, but hopefully it wasn't against the Gophers. If we play like we did against them, we will be extremely difficult for any team in the country to beat.

Tomorrow: Ohio State Preview and a brief review of "The Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball"