"I love it that Ivy League coaches are coming to our camp and Big Ten coaches are coming to our camp. South Florida is coming. We've got about 70 schools that are coming to our camp."
… and we didn’t just survive, we had the better season!!!
Now that they are out, let’s be honest with ourselves. MSU had a VERY talented team this year. Appling, Harris, Dawson, and Payne are all great players. Do they have flaws? Yes. But they were very good.
Yes, MSU did have injury problems this year. Lots of them. But so did we. Maybe not as many, but stuff happens, man. Injuries happen the same as players leaving early for the draft happens (Morris, Burke, Hardaway).
Instead of focusing on MSU’s misfortunes. Let’s look at what this says about our program. We just successfully took MSU’s best shot, and beat them. We won the regular season by 3 whole games. We beat them head to head 2 to 1. We made it just as far, if not further (#BeatKentucky), than them in the tournament. What a fantastic job by Beilein, the rest of the coaching staff, and of course all of the players to take this program where it is today. The tide in this rivalry has officially shifted. No longer are the days when we were terrified of playing at Breslin. No longer are the days where we hoped, PRAYED, for a season split in the series. No longer are the days when we watch Izzo lead his team deep in to March, while we either exited in the first round or didn’t make it at all. Those days are over.
Sparked by Stu’s three pointer on the right wing as the shot clock was winding down, sparked by Draymond missing a floater in the lane as time expired, sparked by Darius Morris shouting, “Get the F%$@ off my court”, sparked by Trey picking Appling’s pocket, and sparked by DEATH FROM ABOVE, a new era has begun.
Time to enjoy it.
EDIT: Mods feel free to delete and replace with a more generic one if you want.
Since I'm losing my mind waiting for our game and quickly lsoing patience watching UConn's disgusting brand of basketball, here's another post to talk about the fan experience of this run compared to last year's:
I'm not used to sustained success from the basketball program, let alone acute success. I can't stop thinking about how much different this year's team is than last year's team, and how much different our tournament run feels.
Last year, every game seemed like a gift. We were seeded underdogs in almost every game. Going into the Elite Eight, after that miracle against Kansas, I was in a state of Fandom Nirvana. It was one of the only times where I really truly think I would have felt very minimal pain from losing. I was also terrified of Florida, and had little faith we would win.
This year? I don't know how to feel. It seems like last game we were Kansas and Tennessee couldn't quite pull out the dagger against us. At the same time, we've been disrespected and largely ignored. It makes me doubt the knowledge I've gained about the team from watching them all season, and makes me be overly cynical. But I am not as scared of Kentucky, even if I should be. I also think I will be much more upset if we lose. Mostly, I am impatient.
There's my pregame thoughts. What say you all?
First we have the JV game (ha), UConn vs Staee. Unfortunately I feel like Virginia had a much better chance to beat State than UConn does. I don't see UConn being able to match up with Payne and Dawson's physicality down low. Virginia had them on the ropes, but State made just enough plays down the stretch to come out with the W. I think UConn's only chance is for either Napier or Boatright to play the games of their lives. This is definitely possible, especially in MSG, but I unfortunately see State pulling this one out.
Then we have our Michigan Wolverines taking on Kentucky. In basketball, there's really two ways to create extra possessions for your team. One is to get offensive rebounds, which Kentucky is probably going to do. The second is to turn the ball over less than your opponent, which we (hopefully) will do. If those two things are close to even, then it really just comes down to who shoots the ball better. Michigan needs to play very efficiently offensively, and I think we'll be able to. One thing a lot of people aren't talking about is the loss of Cauley Stein's pick and roll defense. I think having a big guy that is skilled at defending the pick and roll is one of the most important factors in being able to contain Michigan's offense. While I haven't seen much of Dakari Johnson play, everything I've read points to him possibly struggling in this area. I think we definitely need to take advatage of this. And also, it will be key for Kentucky to shoot 3-pointers more to their season average (4/14 vs Louisville), and not get hot like they did against Wichita State.
MSU 77, UConn 67
Michigan 73, Kentucky 68