Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Spartans escape

I may have lost an additional year of my lifespan after enduring MSU's 76-66 overtime win over a shorthanded but feisty Michigan team.

I still don't quite know what to make of Spartan basketball this season. Is this a tournament team? If they are (and I think they probably are), I don't see them making it past the first round. But just getting this team to the NCAA tournament could be considered a success for Tom Izzo. And if the Spartans both make the tournament AND make it to at least a second game, then that would be a phenomenal success.

John Beilein deserves lots of credit in getting a short-handed and banged up Wolverines team to play hard and never quit until they ran out of gas in overtime.

This is a flawed MSU team and we just need to accept that. The free throw shooting will continue to be terrible and the perimeter shooting erratic. One positive to take away from today is the resiliency they displayed in overtime. Matt Costello and Denzel Valentine in particular brought it strong when it mattered the most. Costello had some huge blocked shots down the stretch, and scored four of MSU's ten points in overtime. Denzel Valentine made up for missing the front end of a one-and-one with 31 seconds left in regulation that may have sealed the win and prevented overtime. Valentine scored five points in OT with two rebounds.

Looking at the upcoming schedule, it's favorable for the Spartans. Illinois at home is winnable, as is a road game against Northwestern. Then MSU comes back to Breslin for a date with Ohio State. An 11-7 conference record is certainly attainable.

I'm certainly not pounding my chest after this Michigan win. I'm merely relieved. It was a dicey proposition and MSU was lucky to escape with a win.


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was fortunate to have tickets to the Michigan game and went with my wife. The Lansing area was socked with a monster snow storm and we slipped and slid our way from our house in Okemos to East Lansing. After parking at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house, we trudged our way through the ice, snow, and bitter cold to Breslin. Once we arrived, I made a point to make a bee-line (and not a Beilein) to the program vendor to purchase a game program. I rarely buy programs any more, but this one featured a bonus special issue of Tom Izzo's "20 biggest moments in 20 years" written by Jack Ebling. It's a more slender volume than I hoped, but still it's a nice keepsake.

The crowd at Breslin was spirited and excited through most of the game, but I was disappointed to see them begin to stream out of the arena with 55 seconds left in overtime. Really, people? You've made it this far and now you're leaving? The weather is already terrible, so staying an extra few minutes won't have any effect on your trip home; and forget about beating traffic, it's not gonna happen. Why not just stay until the end and give the team a hearty round of applause when the clock hits zero? Just a thought.

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