The Pistons are within 1 1/2 games of the Atlanta Hawks, who sit in the No. 4 spot, which would give them home-court advantage for a first-round playoff series. With their 13-5 home record — and 8-11 road record — getting home court advantage has to be the immediate goal if they’re going to make any kind of postseason run.
The Detroit Pistons are quietly making a little run toward making the playoffs for their play this season, led by center Andre Drummond and guard Reggie Jackson. The Pistons are 21-16 at this point in the season compared to their record of 13-24 last year at this time. That is an eight-game turnaround. Not bad!! We will continue to keep on eye on them as the season nears the midpoint. So far the results are positive for the new look Pistons.
Michigan State came within one game of reaching the national championship game, but it sure felt a lot farther away in Dallas last week. The Spartans are now faced with the task of replacing a group of veteran leaders while trying to rebound from the 38-0 loss to Alabama in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
It’s no doubt the Spartans will have major losses on both the offensive and defensive lines quarterback, and receivers due to graduation. As a result, the question going into next year is can the program continue to keep climbing higher and build on what Coach Mark Dantonio has started in East Lansing.
True, this group of seniors won more games than any class in the history of the program and they will be missed. However, the cupboard is not depleted. Depth was a major strength of this team and a lot of underclassmen got valuable game experience this year due to injuries. Recruiting has also been very good as well. The 2016 recruiting class is highly ranked, so the talent level will be there for the coaching staff to work with. Spring practice will be interesting, especially the battle at quarterback where Tyler O’Connor, a fifth-year senior and Damian Terry, a fourth-year junior will compete for the job Connor Cook held for the last three years. In addition, redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke and freshman Messiah deWeaver will be in the competition as well. Lewerke looked very good on the scout team and deWeaver comes in highly touted.
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We all new it would come sooner or later regarding Calvin Johnson. The man’s body is beat up or he is just tired of the game and is contemplating retiring from football. I can’t say I blame him if he walks away from the game in one piece. After nine seasons, he’s taken a lot of hits and the body can only take so much. So, I say good luck to him if he’s leaving; you have been a joy to watch.
It is very apparent that Denzel Valentine is the star of this year’s Spartan team and the most valuable player. In the three games the Spartans have played without him in the lineup, the team has struggled to say the least. They went into overtime to beat Oakland University; were badly outplayed in losing to Iowa and struggled in beating Minnesota. The offense truly misses his 18.5 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists along with his 40% mark from the 3-point line. Defensively, the team is out of sync and not as intense. It appears that the team is just surviving until he returns to action.
Reflecting on the Cotton Bowl, it was apparent that when Alabama brings its “A” game, it will be very tough for anybody to beat them. They have athletes and are very well coached. MSU competed with them for a half, but once Alabama got rolling in the second half, the deal was closed on this game. The interception just before halftime was a killer for Michigan State. A touchdown or even a field goal before the half would have been huge in terms of momentum going into the locker room. Being down 10-7 or 10-3 would have been better than no score at all. When Alabama scored on the opening drive of the second half, the game was over.
The Spartans shouldn’t hang their heads as they were Big 10 champions and made it to the final four of football. There are the whole lot of teams that would trade places in a heartbeat with them on the success of their season. They simply ran into the team (in my opinion) that will be the national champions. We will say goodbye and best wishes to seniors like Cook, Calhoun, J. Allen, Thomas, Heath and Burbridge who end their careers as Spartans. Looking forward to next year, a new quarterback will be in place, either Tyler O’Connor or Damion Terry who both have been in the program for four and three years respectively. The running backs all return; the linebacking group loses Darien Harris, but returns Ed Davis as well as Bullough, Reschke and Frey. The secondary will have to step it up. The receiving corp will lose four player, so others will have to step it up. The team will rest up and start winter conditioning this month to get ready for spring practice, so I guess we will get a look in the spring.