Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Big Ten Tournament Guide for Spartans Travelling to Indy

Please excuse my recent break. I have been trying to track down my own tickets for the Big Ten Tournament and neglected the site for a few days.

Since your blogger currently resides in Indianapolis, I thought that I would put together a few things that I would check out if I was visiting the tournament for the first time.

You Must Experience
1) Spartan Pep Rally - It occurs at the Westin at 7:00PM on Thursday and admission is free. I think this is the best part of the entire weekend as it provides an opportunity for alumni to interact with each other, and maybe even with Coach Izzo like last year. They also have free food at the event, but if I were you, I would get some food before hand because what they serve isn't very good. It's as if they transport pizza from Rick's Cafe in E.L. down to Indy for the event. If you like Rick's pizza, don't worry about it. Otherwise, Loughmiller's Pub is right next to the Westin and they have pretty good food.
2) The Big Ten Tournament- If you don't have tickets, don't worry, there are plenty of them that will be available outside of the stadium. Beware, however, that the face value of tickets for each session is very high. Your best bet to save some dough is to buy extra tickets off of fans and not scalpers. Especially fans of losing teams that are looking to dump tickets.

Consider Checking These Out (No particular order)
1) Coach's Tavern - This is my favorite bar in Indianapolis. It's your typical hang out place where you can throw back a couple of yellow pops before you go to the game. Its location is awesome as it is only one block North of Conseco Fieldhouse. The best day to go would be Saturday before the games as they will be having the prominent local sports radio station broadcasting live.
2) Slippery Noodle - This is the official Michigan State designated bar for the tournament. It's the oldest bar in Indianapolis and is known for its blues music. They have great food. The only problem is that it is not particularly close to the stadium. It's probably about a half of a mile away. But, you may find more Spartans there than anywhere else.
3) Circle City Mall - If you are staying downtown, you won't be able to avoid it. It's a popular city attraction, but really doesn't have many deals. It just looks nice.
4) Clauddaugh Irish Pub - For some reason, people in Indianapolis go to the Clauddaugh as if it's more of a bar than a restaurant. It's a very popular place. They are planning on having a tent outside for the Big Ten tournament on Sunday so it might be worth checking out. You can't beat the fish and chips at the Clauddaugh.
5) Fogo de chao - High end Brazilian steakhouse that is truly unique if you have never been there before. The food is unlimited and they bring you rounds of filet, chicken, beef, etc until you say stop. Vegatarians should avoid this place.
6) Broadripple - This is a particular neighborhood of Indianapolis that is known for having a long strip of bars. People from Michigan compare it to Royal Oak, but it's not as nice. The crowd is a little bit younger, but all and all, you can always find something to do there. It is about 6 miles north of downtown, but worth the trip if you plan on partying all night.
7) The Speedway - It's located out on the Westside. It would take you about 15 minutes from downtown to get there and I am told that they have tours daily.
8) Plump's Last Shot - This is a bar in Broadripple that is owned by Bobby Plump who is the real Jimmy Chittwood from the movie Hoosiers. The place isn't particularly nice, but it has numerous photos of the famous 1954 Milan high school team who won the state high school championship. You also could consider visiting Hinkle Fieldhouse which is less than 4 miles away.

If You Have Kids
1) Children's Museum - Is really great place for children. You could spend a whole day there and not see everything.
2) Indianapolis Zoo - It's smaller and more expensive than Detroit's. I would pass on it.

Friday - I will try to get a preview up in time for the game, but I can't promise as I will be at the Pep Rally tomorrow. I will also try to run down the games this weekend, but I'm not sure how much time I will have since I plan on attending most of them.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Michigan State Pays Back Purdue 62-51

The Spartans closed the regular season by getting a hard fought victory over Purdue. The Boilermakers were un able to overcome poor second half shooting as they lost to Michigan State 62-51. The Spartans were led by Kalin Lucas who had 21 points.

Player of the Game: Kalin Lucas (21 points, 5 rebs, 4 assists)

What Went Well for the Spartans
1) Defense - I will go ahead and blame Purdue's poor shooting on excellent Spartan defense although the Boilermakers looked like they missed a lot of open looks. Travis Walton continued his defensive hot streak and seemed to be all over the place. As a team, we also held Purdue to 4-23 from behind the three-point line.
2) Kalin Lucas - Kalin had a much better game than his 6 turnovers and 6-14 stat line showed. He did a great job directing the Spartan offense and was able to score effectively when he needed to. I wonder what was up with the undershirt?
3) Second Half Free Throw Shooting - When it looked like this game was going to come down to a free throw contest, the Spartans responded well by finishing 17-23 in the second half. Kalin was 7-8, while Suton and Allen were both 4-4.

What Didn't Go Well for Michigan State
1) Defensive Rebounding - Purdue is not a very good offensive rebounding team, but you would not have known it yesterday, especially in the first half. The Boilermakers finished with 12 offensive rebound for the game which is much higher than their season average. Maybe this was due to their unusually poor shooting from the floor.
2) Turnovers - We finished with 19 turnovers yesterday. Obviously, this is way too many. While I insist on getting the ball down low, we can't dump it in if it isn't open. Purdue was doing a great job denying our post men and we tried to force it too many times yesterday. We also had some careless turnovers in the open floor, especially in the second half. Raymar Morgan, what were you doing yesterday with just over 2 minutes left trying to throw the ball the length of the court?
3) Converting Offensive Rebounds - Yesterday's game looked just like the one at Purdue in this respect. We were missing point blank put backs that should have been easy twos. I guess we will have to credit Purdue's defense because this was the second game in a row that this has happened.
4) Poor Shooting - We finished 18-53 which was good for 35%. Much of this has to do with Purdue's defense, but this must improve in the post season.

I was pumped up after we won yesterday. After all, we beat the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten and won the conference by a four game margin. That is unbelievable.

After looking at the stats, however, my excitement quickly faded. 19 turnovers. 35% shooting. That's not exactly stellar. Did we win this game or did Purdue's poor shooting lose it? I mean, they only scored 20 points in the second half. I don't think too many NCAA tournament teams are going to have that happen against us in the future.

If nothing else, this game showed me that we haven't found an answer to our turnover problems, and when facing a great defense, our offense still struggles. I don't know if Izzo can correct either of these two things before the NCAA tournament. If he doesn't, we will be in a world of hurt.

Other Game Thoughts
1) Future Spartan Trivia Question - Who is the only Michigan State player to kiss the Spartan S twice? Ibok almost spent more time kissing the floor than he did standing on it yesterday. Actually, when he did play, he was busy being confused on which player to gaurd on pick and rolls. He left the shooter open twice yesterday.

DVD Giveaway
Congratulations to Ryan in North Carolina for winning the latest "Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball" DVD. I will send it out this week.