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Michigan State football, 3 questions: On MSU’s late-game defense, etc.

The Michigan State Spartans held on to win a close one at Minnesota despite pretty much controlling the game. It’s a game that can be a learning experience for a young team that is playing beyond expectations coming into the season. The defense had been playing exceptional so far this season, seemed to let up to allow Minnesota to make a comeback.

Is how Michigan State’s defense finished at Minnesota anything to worry about?

Not yet. Not until you see it again. The Spartans’ defense was terrific into the fourth quarter Saturday. All the points MSU allowed through 50 minutes of football came after MSU turnovers, with Minnesota’s offense working on a short field. But it fell apart late for the Spartans, largely because of the mobility of Minnesota QB Demry Croft, who replaced Conor Rhoda and led the Gophers to three fourth-quarter touchdowns, two after long drives.

Source: Michigan State football, 3 questions: On MSU’s late-game defense, etc.

Tom Izzo: Michigan State basketball ‘legitimate contenders’ for title

 

Would Miles Bridges come back? It would be answered in April, when Bridges took a stage with Tom Izzo in front of MSU’s iconic Spartan statue.

A few hundred yards away from old Jenison Field House, he made the declaration to follow the path of Magic Johnson. Bridges would return for his sophomore season. Just like Magic. The same NCAA trophy Johnson sought almost 40 years earlier became his sole mission.“I got some unfinished business here,” Bridges said as the crowd of 1,000 erupted into cheers.“I have personal goals here. I want to win a national championship.”

It appears the Spartans have the horsepower to do it. Last year, the Spartans were deficient in terms of size up front, but made the tournament behind the play of Bridges and a cast that included fellow freshmen Nick Ward, Cassius Winston and Josh Langford. In addition, Tum Tum Nairn Eron Harris, Alvin Ellis, Matt McQuaid, Kyle Ahrens and Kenny Goins completed the playing group that had only one player other than Bridges over 6’7″. Big men Gavin Schilling and Ben Carter were both out for the season with knee injuries.

This year the Spartans will have both Carter and Schilling back along with Ward and freshmen 6’11” Jaren Jackson and 6’8″ Xavier Tillman and Bridges to provide an imposing front court.

The backcourt will have Nairn, Langford, Winston and McQuaid who all have played significant minutes to provide Coach Izzo with his most talented team in his twenty-two years in East Lansing. Loyal Spartan fans are excited for the season to begin. Expectations are high!!!

Source: Tom Izzo: Michigan State basketball ‘legitimate contenders’ for title

Are Spartans Title Contenders?

The Michigan State Spartans at 4-1 and 2-0 in BigTen play, find themselves in a position for fans to ask: are they contenders in one of the toughest divisions in college football? Coming fresh off a victory over in-state rival Michigan last Saturday, the Spartans have the opportunity to answer that question beginning this Saturday when they travel to Minnesota to play the Golden Gophers. We will see on Saturday if the Spartans can carry the momentum of their big win over Michigan into the rest of the season. They have three winnable games coming up against Minnesota, at home against Indiana and a road game with Northwestern before a big matchups against Penn State and Ohio State.

Almost no one outside the football complex at MSU figured the Spartans would be 4-1 at this point in the season. No one saw consecutive wins over Iowa and Michigan. Not with a team this young, though talented. Only five seniors played regular minutes against Michigan, and only two of them have started consistently this year.

The bulk of the starters were sophomores (10) and freshmen (three). Oh, and one redshirt freshmen. Here they are, prepping for Minnesota as the college football world begins to wonder what sort of team MSU can be. That happens when you beat a ranked team, which happens to be your in-state rival, at their place on national television in prime time. 

Coaches In Trouble

Entering into the sixth week of the college football season and it seems some head coaches of predominate programs are treading water or it seems the faithful fan base of the schools are demanding more.

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS  – Prevailing opinion has coach Butch Jones’s position as the hottest seat in college football. His team is coming off its worst home loss 41-0 to Georgia in more than 100 years. So, it seems that the Vols pretty much have to beat South Carolina on Saturday. However, firing Jones would be a costly proposition for Tennessee. Because he is under contract until the 2021 season, firing him now result in nearly $8.5 million contract buyout. The fans are furious with Jones, therefore, a respectable showing against the Gamecocks is needed to avoid him from being fired right away.

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS- Coach Brett Bielema for four and half years, has touted stellar defense and run-based, clock-controlling offense would be the hallmark of his program. The Arkansas’ blowout loss to South Carolina is one in a series of lows for the program. The Gamecocks totally embarrassed the Hogs 48-22 last Saturday. Guess what? there is Alabama and Auburn still yet to play. Bielema is now 27-29 at Arkansas; 10-24 in league play and 7-18 vs. the SEC West. The Hogs have a winning record against only two other league program since Bielema was hired: Ole Miss(3-1) and Tennessee (1-0). Since his hire, the team has lost nine games by 20 or more points. Only Kentucky (11) and Vanderbilt (13) have more losses by 20-plus. Much like the fan base in Tennessee, the fans in Fayetteville are restless as they struggle to find many highlights for the Hogs in SEC play in almost five seasons of the Bielema regime. One thing to note Razorback fans: Bielema’s buyout is $15 million before the end of this year!

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS – Coach Mike Riley finds himself in the crosshairs of the Husker fan base. It’s to the point where the fans are wishing he would return to his former job as coach of Oregon State. This came about after it was announced the Beavers’ coach Gary Andersen, left the program after a 1-5 record this season and a 7-23 record in his tenure at Oregon State. The fans in Nebraska are clamoring for the days of yore when the Big Red was a force in college football. Riley is trying to build a roster in the mold of Ohio State: speed, speed, speed. However, this past weekend, the fans watched Wisconsin run power, power, power to the point of occupying the ball for 14 of the last 15 minutes that keep all that speed on the sideline. The Huskers are 3-3, 2-1 in league play with Ohio State coming up next with tough games down the road with Penn State and Iowa. Ending with a 6-6 or 7-5 record won’t cut it with fans in Husker land.

 

Connie Hawkins

The basketball world is mourning the lost of a legend with the passing of Connie Hawkins. Hawkins, most commonly known as “The Hawk” revolutionized the game with his unique combination of size, grace and athleticism which was ahead of its time. His style of play is now a hallmark of the modern game. He was an offensive force with his graceful and acrobatic moves long before there was a “Dr. J” or Michael Jordan.

Hawkins was a New York City playground legend and led Boys High School to back-to-back  PSAL titles in 1959 and 1960. He earned a scholarship to the University of Iowa, but he never played for them because he was linked to a point-shaving scandal in New York. Although Hawkins was never arrested or indicted, he was expelled from Iowa and was blackballed from playing college basketball. He was initially barred from the NBA as well as then Commissioner J. Walter Kennedy informed all the teams that he would not approve any contract for Hawkins. As a result, Hawkins became a basketball nomad. He played one season for the Pittsburgh Rens of the American Basketball League and was the MVP. When that league folded, he played three years with the Harlem Globetrotters. After his stint with the Globetrotters, Hawkins played with Pittsburgh Pipers in the inagural season of the ABA in 1967. Hawkins had sued the NBA for $6 million for unfairly banning him. Both sides reached a settlement in 1969 and Hawkins’ rights were assigned to the Phoenix Suns where he played from 1969 to 1973. He later played for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks before retiring in 1976.

Hawkins was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.