::ahem:: SUCK IT WISCONSIN
Just wanted to get that out of the way.
Last night, the MSU basketball team won a tough game on the road against the Wisconsin Badgers, breaking a decade-long losing streak in the Kohl Center. It was a game of tough defense, ugly shots, slow pace and nail biting. Standard MSU/Wisconsin. The team performed more than admirably- hanging together in the clutch, keeping turnovers to a minimum and shooting well (for the most part). The officiating was ridiculously awful (a technical on someone sitting behind the bench? OK.) and the clock debacle might deserve a post all it’s own, but what’s most important is this team continues to be exciting, tough and GOOD. Have I mentioned good?
Today Sara G. and I discovered that last year’s basketball team only won 17 games. 17!!!!! They got their 14th win on February 10. This year’s team is 14-2 on January 4, and knocking at the nation’s Top 10. Last year we were also SO disgusted with the team we blew up the boat on December 23, then didn’t do another report for a month (in a post fittingly titled “The Five Stages of Grief.” Apparently we do that a lot?) Then Korie Lucious was kicked off the team on January 26. We did not update the boat’s status again until the end of the season. BUT NOT THIS YEAR. Boat status: ballin’
Ahoy! (Click the image for a larger version)
Boat Captain: Keith Appling
Keith continues to develop into the kind of electric player that makes announcers wet their pants and fans squeal with delight. He took on pre-season All-American point guard Jordan Taylor at both ends of the court last night and was in a word, sick. His electric play has really ignited the offense, he looks more comfortable running the point and his defense is really lock down. Bonus: I love his stanky mad face in tight games. He gets serious attitude when things get sticky. He’s also a sophomore. Congrats Keith, you’re making a great case for an All Big 10 season.
First Mate: Draymond Green
Green really functions as almost a co-captain here, he’s been that impressive. Everyone knows he’s the heart and soul of the team, and he pulled down another double-doubel against Wisconsin, with blocks, steals and all-around hustle to round it out. BUT please make your free throws when the game is on the line Day Day. Thanks.
Second Mate: DERRICK FREAKING NIX
Ok. We at Sports Squared have been really hard on Nix. He had an abysmal season last year, and a tough few games at the beginning of the season. But he’s settling in, and last night he had two key back-to-back buckets. He has one move under the basket, but it’s a good one, and he’s also playing great defense. Nix’s biggest asset is his size, and last night it seemed like Wisconsin just didn’t have an answer for him. He also logged 25 minutes on the court, showing his stamina has really increased over the past year. Well done, Derrick.
Crow’s Nest: Adrieian Payne and Brendan Dawson
Payne and Dawson are really coming along, playing good D, snagging rebounds (and in Payne’s case steals), contributing offensively and just generally bangin’ under the hoop. Young dudes, keep it up.
Also on the boat, but I was too lazy to draw them: Brandon Wood and Travis Trice
Every game it become more apparent that Brandon Wood’s contribution as a leader on the court is invaluable to this team. He didn’t have an explosive night offensively, but he does a great job running plays, making good passes and getting the ball to the hot hand. We love you Brandon, please don’t ever leave. Trice has seen his minutes reduced lately, but last night it just may have been that Wisconsin’s size was too much. (Sidenote: This game was the first time I thought MSU looked undersized all season. Given the competition, that’s saying something)
Thrown Overboard: Austin Thornton
Austin played 30 minutes in this game and has been improving through Big 10 play. However, when he gets frustrated he commits really stupid and unnecessary fouls. In a close game like the one against Wisconsin, that can be a killer. So Thornton remains in limbo. Will he crash into the sea? Will he be rescued? Stay tuned.
Island of Misfit Toys: Brandan Kearny, Alex Gauna and Russel Byrd
Where are you guys? Pre-season I was really excited about at least two of these guys (Byrd and Kearny) but they haven’t really been seeing much of the floor. Understandable, as it seems Izzo has a rotation that works for him, but if one of them could develop into a strong scorer off the bench, it would only help our chances in March. Special shout-out to Alex Gauna, who only logged one minute of play last night, but hit a nice 18-ft jumper cold off the bench.
And that’s the Boat Report! MSU basketball is on hiatus until January 10, so enjoy the NFL playoffs until then.