I really do. Was just talking with Jana, and made note of how I'd read that Izzo had to stop and compose himself several times during the post-game press conference, and it made me giggle. She said "Hey, he's an NMU (Northern Michigan) grad!" As much as I love Yoopers, I love handing that one losses.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Really, it's a sign of respect. Izzo built Michigan State into the best program in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country about 10 years ago, and the fact that we've been able to beat them three-quarters of the time under Bo, is immensely gratifying. It could be argued convincingly that we've supplanted them as the class of the league. I'd like to win tomorrow before spending too much time building this case.
Very happy to never play Neitzel again. He's one of those rare guys who actually scares me, and the fact that we took his best punch today and came out on top is a relief. There wasn't a Badger fan around us that didn't think his last 3-pointer was going in, it was a good look.
Kalin Lucas is going to be a big-time stars. He's the quickest player I've seen this year, he plays under control, and he has a nice touch. J-Bo couldn't guard him. Flowers made a great play to anticipate his pass and make that decisive steal.
The AP story dwelled on how many fouls MSU had and how many guys fouled out. It was sort of incredible - three foul-outs in 56 seconds - but not baseless. We made a concerted effort to get the ball into the post and did solid work from there. And there were dumb fouls like the Spartans, I think it was Naymick, who ran over Krabby setting a pick under the basket. Really though, Suton is their only difference-making big. Ibok played some productive minutes for State.
Still, we racked up our share of difference-making fouls, too. Flowers' foul trouble played a big role in Neitzel's early success. And Bo has a two-game technical streak going.
Bottom line is, in this tournament the referees have been front and center, and not in a good way. It seems like Hightower is hearing "Let's go Ed!" rather than "Let's go Red!" These guys blow their whistles, run across the floor and jab their fingers in foulees' faces. They wait until the crowd noise dies down before announcing their calls. It's been bad all the way around, and something should be done about it.
The Illinois-Minnesota game was sort of bland, although Illinois clearly played better and deserved to advance. Pruitt played assertively and under control, although tomorrow I'll probably be yelling "he walked!" every time he gets the ball in the post. Randle played really well today, better than I've seen from him in two years. McCamey is their guy to stop, we should put Flowers on him.
Got a feeling that even if Pop can go, Jarmusz and Leuer will probably need to play a few minutes tomorrow. Jarmusz made two nice cuts to get open today and didn't look out of place. Leuer missed a 3-pointer, but I'm glad he didn't hesitate when he shot.
Illinois should be feeling fatigued tomorrow, four games in four days is tough for anyone, even young guys, and each one of their games has gone down to the last minute before being decided. Late in today's game, Meacham and Frazier both missed free throws short, which I'm hoping is a sign of things to come tomorrow. As my son would say, "my 'egs are tired."
The scalpers are hating this matchup, but I'm loving it. If we lose, another Big Ten team gets into the tournament - one with a losing record to boot. Would rather bring home another trophy.