Tag Archives: Tom Izzo

The Boat Report: Bubble Wrap Edition

Why, hello fans and supporters of Sports Squared! Actually, it might just be down to my sister and my mom and this point, but hey. They count and they have to read what I write because they’re related to me.

Sarah and I took some time off because… well… I don’t really know. It’s not as though we stopped following MSU – if you check our Twitters, you’ll see that we are still firmly on the Spartan Boat and following every move.  I think sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy things – like the Rose Bowl victory! Regardless, we are thick in the hunt of another Big Ten basketball title, and before we get to March Madness, I felt it time to give a quick update.

I don’t even know when we last spoke, but it’s safe to assume that we blew up the Boat, kicked a few people off, felt angry, had unspeakable joys, cried, laughed, and slapped the floor in regards to this basketball team. Sarah and I are both in agreement that we love this team. We love them with caution and safety, but we love them. Finally, last night, our leader Adreian Payne returned to the team after 16 years of sitting on the bench due to the most annoying foot injury of all time. One of the lovely Only Colors bloggers last night said that our team has sort of a Final Destination feel to it at this point, with the most random and frequent set of injuries the world has ever seen. Admit it – you thought that Travis Trice was going to break his leg last night when he went down with a twisted ankle. It’s ok, we all did.

Get right in there and make him feel better, DVal.

Get right in there and make him feel better, DVal.

Anyway. We’re here. It’s February. And things are getting HEATED!

On to the BOAT!

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Filed under Basketball, Big Ten, College Basketball, MSU, Posted by Sara, The Boat

The Boat Report: We’re #1!

Michigan State basketball has a knack for playing anyone, anytime, any place. Aircraft carrier? Sure. Air Force Base in Germany? Yep. Scheduling non-conference games against Duke, Kansas, Connecticut, or Kentucky? Why not. How about an asteroid floating around space? Yeah, MSU will probably play someone there too.  Tom Izzo used all these games as a chance for his teams to get experience against better teams to use as a base for big games later in the season, however, MSU rarely won.

I like these guys. I like them a lot.

I like these guys. I like them a lot.

It was different last night. MSU took down #1 Kentucky 78-74 in the Champions Classic in Chicago in what is being described as a program win. I do agree with the sentiment that MSU needed to get one of these big non-conference wins, but I think our program is pretty good. Regardless, it was an impressive showing (especially in the first half) and now the Spartans should have the number one ranking next week.

How fun is it to watch MSU run the ball like they did? I know that Izzo says every year that MSU is going to run, but it seems like that really is the game plan this year. I was concerned that this would cause sloppy play as we’ve seen in the past, but the Spartans finished with just 7 turnovers.  With the stingy defense all over the place, Kentucky was forced into giving the ball away 17 times.

I hadn’t had a chance to see much of this team prior to the game yesterday, but I am impressed with this bunch of grizzled veterans. I mean, seniors, juniors, and sophomores who can contribute to a basketball team’s success? Who knew that was possible! If you listened to any of the broadcast yesterday, it didn’t seem like that was an option! And still, the narrative today seems to be that we learned nothing from the game other than Kentucky is young and good and wouldn’t have lost this game come March.

But I’m with Tom Izzo. Everyone is talking about how Kentucky is going to get better. Well guess what? The Spartans will be playing in March too. And I don’t know about you, but I think we’re going to be better too.

On to the Boat!

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Filed under Basketball, College Basketball, MSU, Posted by Sara, The Boat

MSU vs. Kentucky: HYPE HYPE HYPE

Good morning, Spartans!  Here we are, it’s time for our first real test of the 2013-14 basketball season. It’s about time, am I right? Wait, this is only the second game of the season? Well.

Bring it.

I, like many of the Spartan faithful, haven’t seen a ton of this team yet…but what I have seen is very exciting. Why not test it out now? Let’s see what these guys have.  Tonight marks the first 1 v 2 matchup in about six years, but what most people care about is the amount of talent that will be on the floor in both games. Joe Rexrode has a great breakdown of some of the story lines leading into tonight’s game.

Now, I know everyone is taking some time today to feel bad for John Calipari and how unfair it is that he has to take his group of freshman (maybe one of the best classes ever assembled in college basketball) and face the experienced Spartans, but once you dry your tears…how about some HYPE? You know we love a hype video.

Who wants to hit the gym?

One of the most ridiculous games ever…MSU vs Kentucky, NCAA Tournament 2005

And a great wrap up from last year, featuring two of my favorite Izzo hugs of all time.


So there you have it. Tune into ESPN tonight at 7:30 to see our mighty Spartans take on the Wildcats of Kentucky.

Go Green!


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Filed under Basketball, College Basketball, Hype, MSU, Posted by Sara

Boat Report: SHIP OF DREAMS Edition

WHAT UP! Sports Squared is back! There was a hiatus, but you know…life happens. Now fueled by the football Spartans evisceration of Michigan and the upcoming basketball season hype, we’re back, just in time for the 2013-2014 basketball season’s first BOAT REPORT.

They called it the ship of dreams…and it WAS.

Everyone knows your Michigan State basketball Spartans are coming up on a season full of expectations, hopes and dreams. We all remember how this worked out the last time (RIP 2010-2011 season), but it’s time to shed those fears and embrace the hype. So without further ado, your boat report.

[Also, if you need some refreshing on the ship of dreams…here is in 30 seconds. Like this…except with fewer ice bergs.]

Captain: Keith Appling 

Duh. Keith isn’t the most purely athletic player on this team, but Tom Izzo has been working for three years to craft him into a Big Ten point guard. Keith can drive, he can shoot, he’s a good ball handler and most of all, he should be a big part of the leadership on this team. Keith (or as we like to call him, Keef or Keither) often takes the game on his shoulders on the court – hopefully he’s ready to shoulder some of that leadership off the court too. Things to watch for- assist to TO ratio. MSU has said they’re going to push the pace this year (no really), so Keef keeping the TOs to a minimum will bode well for MSU’s success.

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Filed under Basketball, College Basketball, MSU, Posted by Sarah, The Boat

Boat Report: Gut Check Edition

Welp, here we are friends. Two games left in the Big 10 regular season, and SOMEHOW Michigan State is still in the running for a share of the conference title, despite losing its last three games. (For more on all the Big Ten scenarios, Rexrode has you covered.) The thing is, aside from going 0-2 against Indiana, the Spartans have split with every other competitive team in the Big Ten, and all the other top teams keep losing. So, as MSU heads into Thursday’s game against Wisconsin, we’ll take a look at who’s showing captain-like qualities, and who has to walk the plank.

Also, you might want to get out your best corn-colored attire for the Indiana/Michigan game on Sunday, because in addition to beating Wisconsin, MSU needs the Wolverines to beat Indiana in order to force a four-way conference title tie (Indiana, OSU, UM and MSU).

On to the Boat!

My mouse is broken, so this is the worst boat ever.

My mouse is broken, so this is the worst boat ever.

Captain: It has never been more obvious that the captain of the Spartan Boat is Adreian Payne. In the losses against OSU, Michigan and Indiana he showed the most hustle on the floor, and continued his unbelievable three-point shooting, which helped keep Michigan State in all three close games. Payne had 12 boards and 14 points against Michigan, and his stats for the three games previous are just as impressive. 15-12 against OSU, 7-17 against Indiana, 14-15 against Nebraska. For a team that looks like they are lacking in energy and focus, Payne is playing with twice as much hustle and focus as anyone else. There’s a lot of talk about how this team lacks a leader…Why can’t it be Payne?

First Mate: Gary Harris. LOOK. I will not entertain any arguments about Harris’s late turnover or missed FT against Indiana. Harris is the best freshman in the country (since Nerlins Noel tore his ACL) and as the only non-Payne player scoring consistently, he’s kept MSU in games where they should have been trailing by double-digits. His last five games scoring totals: 16, 14, 19, 14 and 17 pts. Without Gary Harris, MSU does not even sniff the Big Ten conference title.

Second Mates: Derrick Nix and Travis Trice. Nix has not been stunning lately, but he’s been good and consistent. He is, maybe, the best free throw shooter on the team currently. Sometimes he is maddeningly Nix-like, but he doesn’t make me have a rage blackout, so there you go.

Trice showed that his game is returning, after being out for what seems like a year with concussion symptoms. He made several 3s against UM and seems to be re-finding his feet, although Izzo didn’t appear to love the way the offense ran with him at the helm. Welcome back, Trizzle!

Freshman Crow’s Nest: Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello Honestly, would love if MSU could involve these two more, as they’ve shown a lot for young guys. But their minutes are important to the team’s depth, and both are playing fairly solid basketball.

Tropical Island Vacation: Keith Appling. Keith, oh Keith. What is your life? This regression to last season’s mean is inexplicable and frustrating. We all know you’re not a “natural” PG, whatever that means, but there’s no reason for you to just forget how to play basketball sometimes. You’re also in a shooting slump, which is unfortunate. You played better against Michigan, which was encouraging, but made idiot mistakes down the stretch, which was heartbreaking. You were so clutch and icy at the beginning of the season! How can we help you? One thing’s for sure, this team needs you to have any hope at the Final Four run, so we hope you get lots of hugs and stuff and figure yourself out soon.

Walk the Plank: Branden Dawson. DAWSON. You are an idiot. Speaking of people who look like they’ve never played basketball before, you missing bunny after bunny is INFURIATING. If you can’t make a layup, what good are you to an NBA team? We’re all glad your knee is well-healed, but maybe now you need to focus up on not making the world’s most baffling passes, remembering how to put the ball through the hoop and drive the lane. You are a physical freak and one of the most athletic players in the Big Ten. ACT LIKE IT.


Filed under Basketball, Big Ten, College Basketball, MSU, NCAA, Posted by Sarah, The Boat, Uncategorized


You would not be alone in Spartan Nation if you admitted that you’re a wee bit concerned with the state of our basketball team, especially after the miserable game on Sunday.  In fact, if I had updated the Boat immediately after the Ohio State game, it would have looked something like this:

Boat 2-27


But, I took a few days to reflect and I’m feeling a little bit better now.  With some help from our friends in Minnesota who upset Indiana last night, Michigan State is back in the running for a Big Ten title. Yes, it’s a long shot…and of course now there’s a scenario where Indiana/UofM/Wisconsin can win the Big Ten (DO NOT WANT), but MSU is only a game out now. Basically, we just need to win all of the remaining games.

Look at it this way, Sunday’s loss was the FIRST TIME all season that MSU had lost back to back games. That’s astonishing, especially after seeing them struggle against far inferior opponents (please see Louisiana Lafayette, 3 point victory) and especially after seeing how good the Big Ten has been. What I’m saying is, don’t let those two losses in a row ruin your image of the team.

There are issues. And in a week we saw the ceiling and the floor of this team. Obviously you don’t want to see a game like the Ohio State situation so close to March, but it’s important to keep our focus on bigger goals.  I have concerns, as do many of you, about what has happened to Keith Appling and Branden Dawson, but I’m not going to let these past couple of games dictate my entire opinion of the both of them. This is not the first time in Appling’s MSU tenure that we’ve seen him struggle with confidence. He’s dealt with this before.  The difference this year is how he responds on Sunday. He’s never going to be a Draymond Green type leader, but he’s a leader on this team. He just is. If his shot is going to continue to disappear (which I pray it doesn’t), then he just needs to focus on assists and making the plays that the Spartans need him to. As for Dawson? He just needs to remember that a basketball game has two halves, and he needs to be present for both of them.

In Tom Izzo’s press conference this week, he stressed that people need to stop panicking. Losses happen. They just do. It doesn’t mean that this team is terrible or that they will never win again. What it means, in this case, is that the Spartans need to refocus and get fired up for Sunday. I don’t think they’ll have a problem getting excited for the Michigan game, but they have had a problem getting up for every single game they play. That’s a problem. But it’s not something that we can’t overcome. I’m hoping that this off week gives every one a chance to remember what we’re doing and what the goals are. As Izzo said this week, MSU wasn’t even in the Big Ten title conversation when the season began. They have come a long way. And I believe it’s all going to be fine.

So what was the point of this post? I’m not really sure. I think we all just needed to rally a bit and remember that we have a huge game Sunday in Ann Arbor. All is not lost. We’re going to be fine. These are Izzo’s guys, after all. And I have more faith in him than anyone else come March. And remember, March is what we want.

If you’re still feeling down, Sarah and I have found something that has not failed to cheer us up. Watch this a few times and you will find joy again.



We’ll be back later this week to get some hype going for the Michigan game.



Filed under Basketball, College Basketball, MSU, Posted by Sara, The Boat

The Boat Report: Fat and Sassy Edition

What a difference a week makes, eh? No, we’re not abandoning ship over here (boat pun, YES!), we’re just smarting a bit from the knock back down to Earth delivered by the Hoosiers of Indiana.

When we last spoke, things were JOYOUS. Finally we had seen the potential of this team when pretty much everyone was able to play together. And then it all fell apart. From the second the game started on Tuesday, something was amiss with our beloved Spartans.  They didn’t appear to have the fire or focus that they came out with against Michigan. They looked tired and rattled and more than a few times were incredibly panicked. It wasn’t exactly what Spartan Nation had in mind when envisioning this game. Perhaps what was most disappointing was this because the first game that MSU just couldn’t close.  It had become one of the strong points of the season, and pretty much fell apart this game.  Additionally, if Indiana could have missed ever from outside, that would have helped too. But, we can’t always get what we want, I guess.

This is what TV Teddy makes Tom Izzo look like.

This is what TV Teddy makes Tom Izzo look like.

So, the Spartans lost 72-68, but there is no time to be down. Schedule of Doom part II is underway and MSU cannot let this effort get them down. With the next three games being (at) Ohio State, (at) Michigan, and (home) Wisconsin there is no rest for the weary. Perhaps this loss will remind the team that while they have an abundance of talent, it is not the time to be fat and sassy and NOTHING is guaranteed.

Onward to the Boat!

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Filed under Basketball, Big Ten, College Basketball, MSU, Posted by Sara, The Boat