Saturday, November 14, 2015

Basketball in the midst of international tragedy

I don't really want to write about politics in here, but in this case it's really unavoidable.

Yesterday, as everyone knows all too well at this point, Paris, France was devastated by horrific terrorist attacks. The news hit shortly before I headed out to Breslin Center to watch the Spartans open up their basketball season against Florida Atlantic.

I don't know if "cognitive dissonance" is the proper term to describe my feeling at enjoying the trivial pleasure of watching a college basketball game while, across the ocean, one of the world's great metropolises was in the midst of horror. The game suddenly seemed pretty inconsequential, and I found myself periodically checking my phone to catch updates of what was happening in France.

But as far as the game goes, it was enjoyable and a good distraction from what was happening in the "real world." Michigan State will have an exciting team this year, and there is no telling how far they could go. It's not out of the realm of possibility to suggest this could be another Final Four squad.

Here's my Facebook post that I wrote after returning home from the game: "...opening night of the 2015-16 season. Checking my phone at timeouts to find out what was happening in France. I'm enjoying a trivial distraction in Breslin while Paris is suffering through unspeakable horrors. The Spartans should have an exciting team. Newcomers Dayonta Davis and Matt McQuaid will become fan favorites. (In his first official game, Davis had the second highest single game blocked shot total in MSU history. He could be a star player). Matt Costello and TumTum Nairn are poised for breakout seasons. Denzel Valentine looks like he is ready to be the leader in his senior year. Thanks to my bro-in-law Michael for inviting me. Had some great post game beers and burger at Harrison Roadhouse." Lourawls Nairn, Deyonta Davis, and Matt Costello are the players who impressed me the most. Nairn continues to bring non-stop energy to the team and his defense reminds me of Travis Walton. To top it off, he's added a reasonably decent jump shot to his repertoire (though with Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes, and Eron Harris around, Nairn will not likely be asked to shoot much). Deyonta Davis is a freshman, but he certainly does not look like a freshman. He has length, size, and a feel for the game that belies his youth. He's also a shot-blocking machine. Davis will be a fun player to watch this season. Matt Costello came into his own late last season, and the way he played against FAU, there is every indication that he is picking up where he left off.

At this point, my only concern is that old bugaboo, free throw shooting. It was not good last night. Maybe this is just an aberration, and it will be better in future games; but based on what I saw last night, it may still be a problem.

But compared to the problems faced by the people of Paris, my concerns about MSU's free throw shooting are pretty damned inconsequential.

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