Saturday, December 27, 2008

Oakland Prediction

Oakland Prediction:

Having went to the game last year at the Breslin, this game is very concerning. The Grizzlies played us extremely tough and if it weren't for Goron Suton, we would have been embarrassed. So now, one year later, the two teams will face off again but this time in a half-empty NBA arena. The perfect set-up for an upset. In fact, Oakland upset a talented Oregon team around this time last year.

The problem is that while Oakland is very offensive minded, I don't think that they have the firepower that they have had in the past. It will take a very efficient offense to beat the Spartans today and a stiffling defense to create a bunch of Spartan turnovers. Both of which, I don't think are capable of.

The Spartans should establish an up tempo pace early. Their transition game should exploit the advantage they have regarding athletism. They will also have to dominate on the boards in order to win this game. They must avoid playing at the level of the Grizzlies.

In the end, I see the Spartans holding on and winning unimpressively. I think this game will be closer to an upset than it will be a blowout. If I was a bookie, I would give the Spartans +5.
My Prediction: MSU 72-65

My Prediction: MSU 72-65


Jon in Owosso, MI writes:

....I have heard that [Kampe] is really good friends with Coach Izzo. Can you add an info on this or anything about Kampe's afro, did he always have one, how much product does he use in it.

First of all, Izzo is apparently friends with everyone. He plays on the road at IPFW because for some reason he is "really good friends with the Fife's." Is that why Dane went to Indiana? Because Izzo and his dad were good friends? It's probably better that he went there anyway.

Secondly, Kampe doesn't have an afro. His hair is just nappy. Someone needs to tell him that if he wants to pick up college chicks, he needs to hit aftergame parties and drink plenty of Natural Lite.

Thanks for the email.

Tomorrow: I will try and run down the game, but unfortunately, I can't watch it as I don't live in Michigan and don't get FSN Detroit. I don't know why this isn't also on the BTN. Fox has ownership in both so it should be on. Bastards!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oakland Preview

Tomorrow the Spartans head to the Palace to take on the Oakland Grizzlies.

Key Wins: At Oregon (82-79 in OT)
Key Losses: At Syracuse (86-66)
At Iowa (66-57)
At Kansas State (83-64)
Michigan (89-76) *at the Palace

What they do well: I won't pretend that I have seen Oakland play even one minute on television this year, but historically they have been a very offensive minded team. This comes from the their fearless leader, Coach Greg Kampe. My favorite quote of his is "We will win by scoring more points than every team we play." That makes sense to me. According to Ken Pomeroy's rankings, nationally they are 79th in offensive efficiency. Their team is composed mainly of players from the state of Michigan, led by gaurd Erik Kangas (17ppg).

What they don't do well: Traditionally, it has been playing defense. So far this year, their opponents are shooting 42% from inside the arc and 34% from three against them. They have been outrebounded by their opponents this year also. Their leading defensive player is Keith Benson from Detroit Country Day. The 6-11 RS sophomore is both their best rebounder and shot blocker. He probably has the best overall game on their roster.

Why Oakland might win:
1. The game is at the Palace
2. They played us well last year. Suton single-handedly saved us from an embarassing defeat.
3. They have beaten ranked teams at the Palace before (No. 21 Oregon last year).

Why Oakland won't win:
1. Lack of athleticism.
2. Poor rebounding.

Side Note:
College basketball needs to get rid of non-conference neutral site games. I hate playing teams in large arenas so far away from campus, especially when we are playing scrubs. Sure, the schools make a lot of money from ticket, beverage, and food sales, but the atmosphere does not compare to being on campus. It is a disgrace to see a school like Michigan State play a national power like North Carolina in front of a half-empty Ford Field. The same was seen in Houston versus Texas. This is not exclusive to MSU basketball either. Last week the Purdue/Davidson and Louisville/Miss State games were in large arenas with even less people there.

Relevant MSU Basketball Story:
Click here to read a Flint Journal story about Mateen, Mo Pete, and Robaire Smith giving back to Flint for Christmas. It's good to see Cleaves featured in the article as he goes back to Flint regularly and makes significant contributions to the community. While his professional career hasn't turned out the way he thought it would have, he still remembers where he came from. Many of Flint's star athletes do not and it's a shame. I've never heard of Glen Rice donating anything to Flint.

Tomorrow: My prediction for the game.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Well, I am only going to follow through on one of my two promises from yesterday. Today's post will definitely be short, but probably not fun.

Rumors: A thread says that Chris Allen has a seperated finger. The poster stated that Tim Staudt reported this. I'm not sure if it's true, but hey, it's Christmas and there isn't anything else to really write about. How does one separate a finger? The wording makes me think even more that it isn't true.

"This is a fantastic blog that I stumbled across, in your few posts you have the same feelings about MSU basketball that I do. Really top notch work, you show hard work that Izzo would be proud of. Even though you probably sit around in your underwear all day thinking about basketball."
Sparty From Owosso, MI

You must know me. Thanks for the email.

If you would like to contribute, please email me at

Tomorrow: I will attempt to preview the Oakland game.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Helter Skelter

I don't think any two words can better describe my feelings towards Tom Izzo. Regardless of whether he has earned it or not, Coach Izzo is labelled as one of the best coaches in America. I would argue that he is a better person than he is a coach.

Tom's greatest attribute is leadership. I have never seen highlights of Tom as a player, but I can only imagine. I picture him as a Mateen-like guard who was best known as a floor general and the emotional leader of the team rather than the most skilled player on the court. He has transformed MSU into a perenial Top 25 team through hard work and discipline. He probably has been more influencial to Michigan State athletics than any other person, including Magic Johnson.

Tom has always had a great relationships with his players. I think this has helped him become an excellent recruiter. His relationship with the Flint Stones is infamous, but not exclusive. He has really bonded with Drew Neitzel, Travis Walton, Alan Anderson, Chris Hill and others. I think that kids see that as a big draw to MSU.

Team first Mentality. I really admire how Coach Izzo emphasizes personal sacrifices for the greater good of the team. I think he has done a superb job of getting his teams to set aside personal goals for the betterment of the team. Who else could get J-Rich to ride the pine for most of his freshman year and convince Zach Randolph to come off of the bench? He has never catered to one person or modified his coaching style in favor of a superstar. He has instilled a level of discipline that is unmatched by many programs around the country.

Tom Izzo is not God, however.

He is one of the worst X's and O's coach I have ever seen.
I think that early in his coaching career, he got away with leaving games in Mateen's hands and talent prevailing during clutch situations. To illustrate my point, pay close attention the next time that Michigan State comes out of a timeout and tries to execute a designed play. Most of the plays are not only poorly executed, but also poorly designed. During the glory years, Tom essentially would call a time out, give Mateen the rock and tell him to win the game for us. This often resulted in Mateen dribbling at that top of the key entirely too much and often shooting a line-drive three that somehow would always go in. Or more recently, Tom would force the ball into Drew Neitzel's hands for a desperation three even if opponents have three guys on him.

His regular season record is atrocious.
This is best illustrated in this must-read article. As you can see, his record against the top 25, especially while ranked themselves, doesn't merit all of national attention that he gets for being a great coach. I have been saying this for years. I think most of this is because Tom doesn't really care about the regular season. This is most evident early in the regular season every year. How many times have we seen Tom use 12 players against a highly touted Carolina or Duke team in a November contest? Then, when the tournament comes around, he sticks to 7 or 8 guys. I love Isaiah Dahlman, but no body wants to see him touch the floor against UNC under any circumstances. I want to see our 7 best play against their best five. What's worse is that he does this against teams that we should blow out by 30 even when we are losing! The perfect example of this was the IPFW game this year. We were losing in the second half and still played with lineups that had as many as 3 freshmen in it at the same time. Tom was determined to play all his guys and didn't care if we lost to a team who's mascot is some kind of stampeeding elephant. Although we won the game, I left saying to myself that I wish I didn't even see it. I have seen too many games like this under the Izzo regime.

MSU needs to live up to expectations.
Whether he likes it or not, Coach Izzo has raised expections in East Lansing. Unfortunately, in the last 5 or 6 years, his teams have not lived up to these expectations. Too many times we have been picked to win the conference and then fall flat on our faces with a fourth or fifth place finish. If you look at Tom's teams over the last 13 years, he has underacheived during the regular season in more than half of his teams (7). This has been masked by the fact that in many cases where his teams didn't live up to regular season expecations, he was still able to get them deep into the tournament (namely '01, '03, and '05).


From John in Dearborn:

Re: "Crandell and Kebler - Somebody email me something about these guys that isn't on their bio sheet."

A Kebler is a white cracker that normally comes in a green box.

-Nice. You are right. That is not on the bio sheet.

Tomorrow: Something short, but fun for Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Diaper Dandies

On to the freshman......

1) Delvon Roe - One of the most heralded freshmen that MSU has landed this decade. He turned down Carolina to come here and the Spartan faithful are excited to see him at his best. The question is when will this be? After his devistating knee injury last year and then an injury to the other knee in the offseason, I wasn't very optomistic about him contributing to this team right away. But, he has given the team some solid minutes so far. He is a surprisingly good rebounder and with each game you can see his offensive skills becoming more polished. Hopefully he fully recovers and can get back to doing this.

For some reason Delvon reminds me of Andre Hutson. They don't play the same position, but they are both long and left handed. They both can handle the ball relatively well for big men.

2) Korie Lucious - Personally, my favorite freshman this year. Unlike the poll posted on this site, I think that he is the most game ready of all the freshman. I think this guy has extremely good ballhandling skills. He can get the ball up the court just as fast as Lucas and may be the best passer on the entire team. His entry passes into the post are amazing. Sure, he turns the ball over some, but he's a freshman. After the IPFW game, I thought that he was going to take some of Walton's PT, but then Walton had the big game against Maryland and the rest was history. I'm sure that Lucious is going to have a big game at some point this year, but he will need to see the floor more in order to make it happen.

3) Draymond Green - The hefty one from SagNasty who put in time over the summer to lose some weight. He has been extremely efficient with his limited PT providing solid defense and rebounding. I'm not sure what his role is going to be on this team, but I hope that he continues to push away from the table so that he maintains a respectable weight.

Randomness: I try to stick to only basketball on this blog, but I couldn't ignore Joe Rexrode's article with the latest edition update on the football team beating of a MSU hockey player. If the lawyer's account is true, then why aren't the suspects charged with breaking and entering also? It says throughout the story that they were intruders.

It is extremely hard to believe what the lawyer is selling. How could any institution allow this behavior without kicking anyone involved out of school? Even Ohio State wouldn't tolerate this if it were true. We will have to see how things turn out.

Tomorrow: I'll dive into my thoughts on Coach Izzo. See why we share a love/hate relationship.

Returning Bench Players

On to my thoughts of the returning bench players this year.

1) Durrell Summers - The athletic swingman that the team desperately needs. He was the least heavily recruited among last years freshman, but may be the most athletic on the team. The problem is that we haven't quite seen it yet. After hearing that he had improved dramatically over the summer, I was hoping that he would have a breakthrough sophomore year like J-rich did. This has not been the case. Now, I know the timing of this is poor, but why is he shooting so many threes? Why is more than 1 in every 3 shots he take a three pointer? The obvious answer is that he is 13 for 25 on the season, but I don't really buy him being that good of a shooter. I would feel much more comfortable seeing attack the rack on a consistent basis.
What announcers will say: He's athletic!

2) Marquise Gray - He probably is the most highly touted recruit on this team, but unfortunately as a RS senior he is most accurately labelled as an underacheiver. Every once in a while he surprises us with a double-double, but unfortunately his play normally is average at best. His problems seem to be 100% mental and 0% physical as he has great size and is pretty agile. Pay particular attention to him the next time that he screws up on the court. His facial expressions speak volumes as to how shot his confidence is. Maybe this is a result of regular playing cupcakes at Class C Beecher while in Flint. Or maybe it is because Izzo rides him on almost every play he is involved with, even if he does a good job.
What announcers will say: He's from Flint.

3) Idong Ibok - A guy, who for nothing else, is featured in the MSU commercial most often seen on the BTN. You know, the one where he has that ackward smile just before he goes up for a jump ball. That's hilarious. Seriously, like a reader wrote yesterday (see below), Ibong is very underrated and underutilized by Izzo. He should have seen the floor a lot more in the absence of Suton if not only for his size. Just as Chris Allen has never seen a shot that he didn't like, Ibong has never seen a shot that he didn't think he could block. He try's to swat threes from the lane. That's pretty funny also!
My own personal nickname for him: I Dunk, I Block

4) Isaiah Dahlman - The former Minnesota High School career scoring leader. Unfortunately, his game has not transitioned well to the next level. He has seen limited time on the floor during his first two seasons due to what appears to be a lack of quickness and agility. I had read the reports that he had improved his three point shooting in the offseason and was hoping to have a role similar to Jason Klein this year, but that hasn't happened. Instead, Izzo has shown that he prefers Ashton Thornton over Dahlman which is probably the right call. I feel bad for Dahlman because he seems like a nice kid. I think he should have went the route of his former teammate Maurice Joseph and transfered last year. Sadly, I don't think that he can redshirt due to some scrub time appearances that he had this year. Thus, transferring for one year is going to be difficult.
What announcers shouldn't say about him anymore: The Minnesota High School career scoring leader. (his record was broken this year)

5) Austin Thornton - The rebounding guard who saw a significant amount of PT this year. He seems to have at least a decent three point shot and good size to get some boards. Hopefully he doesn't turn the ball over as he has looked shakey at times while handling the rock. I should have put him in with the freshman, but he technically was on the team last year.
Announcers will say: He turned down several full ride scholarships from MAC schools to be a walkon for Tom Izzo

6) Tom Herzog - Has played sparingly again this year only appearing in 5 games. You can't teach size, but apparently Tom will take teaching shorter guys over playing Tom. That's what you get when you take a guy from Flint Powers.
Thing I remember most about Herzog: Quality minutes in the BT tournament semifinal game against Wisconsin due to rediculous over officiating.

7) Crandell, Kebler - Somebody email me something about these guys that isn't on their bio sheet. All I know about them is that they can't hold a candle to Steve Cherry or Matt Ishbia.

OhioSpartan writes:

Two things:

Roe's freethrows: His form looks fine, I think he will start hitting at 60% real soon and by next year he will be a 70% FT shooter.

Idong Ibok: He started, played significant minutes, and helped the team win. Anyone who predicted that Idong Ibok would do this on the road against a top five team is lying. I think he is the real player of the game that nobody is talking about.

-Well, we can only hope that you are correct regarding Roe. However, I would argue that my form looks great also, but I don't think that I can shoot 70% from the line. And regarding, I Dunk I Block, I agree that he had contributed solidly in the Texas game. Again, he is very underutilized. Hey, also, if you are in Ohio, tell those Buckeyes to leave Braylon Edwards alone. If they keep this up, he might ask to be traded. Actually, with his dropsies maybe that's what they want.

A summary of the current freshmen.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Returning Starters

It's day number two of my blog and I thought I would run down my thoughts on the returning starters. I know, they aren't all starters, but they are starter quality.

1) Travis Walton - The Mateen-like emotional leader of this team (without the offense and ball handling abilities of course). He has always been one of my favorite players because of his passion for winning. His biggest game so far this year was MSU's worst against Maryland. He looks to have worked on his shooting in the offseason.
What announcers like to say about him: He's the strongest guy on the team. He benches over 300lbs!

2) Goran Suton - Both the MVP and most undervalued player on this team. He was the Big Ten's third leading rebounder last year and didn't even get honorable mention despite also having solid offensive contributions. This team needs him to play well in order to be competitive with national powerhouses like Carolina and UConn.
What my friends call him: Moron Suton

3) Raymar Morgan - The most talented player on the squad. When he plays well, MSU nearly always wins. Their record is 15-3 when he scores more than 15 points. The problem is that their record is probably 3-25 when he doesn't. Everyone knows that he disappears in the limelight. He is very turnover prone and commits the dumbest fouls I have ever seen. I could do without his whinny reactions after EVERY foul he commits.
What announcers say about him: Best NBA prospect

4) Kalin Lucas - The speedy PG that has all of the talent that Travis Walton is lacking. He played out of his mind last year, but is off to a rough season so far. He is in danger of having the worst offseason regression in modern day Spartan basketball. Right now he can't hit a shot, but is still taking care of the ball very effectively. Even if he turns his season around right now, I don't think he will live up to some people's projections of him being a second or third team All-American.
What announcers say about him: He's fast!

5) Chris Allen - The fearless chucker who never saw a shot that he didn't like. This year he seems to be less confident and has stuggled so far. He is by far the best shooter on this team and once he gets on track, we will be hard to beat. I don't think it is coincidence that his two best games ever were against UNC and Memphis. Both blowouts that required him to be in the lineup. Izzo should award his new haircut with more PT.
What announcers say about him: He's a pure shooter.


Has anyone ever noticed how MSU basketball stories get recycled over and over. For instance, check out this AP story in USA Today stating that Justin Mason suffered his head laceration as a result of an Idong Ibok screen. Anyone who watched the game, clearly saw that Mason ran into one of his own teammates. Do these guys watch the games? Did Mitch Albom contribute to this story and report seeing J-Rich there?

See the Summers three pointer here

Quote of the Day:

"Free-throw shooting is like throwing strikes, or a quarterback who can't hit open people. It gets in your head. It is a problem. I don't feel like we're Memphis, and we can overcome it. We have to be better at it." - Coach Izzo

Yeah, unfortunately, we aren't Memphis. They could dominate teams despite shooting below 50% at the line. We also don't have an entire team that poops ice cream.

I'll get into the returning bench players and more randomness.