"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
There has been ongoing discussion regarding MSU's defensive strategy with regards to both football and basketball on this site. Whether on the gridiron or the hard court, their aggressive grabbing, pulling, hand checking, using the coach as an extra defender, jamming, neck twisting, throat punching, etc. has been well noted right down to their self proclaimed thuggery of "X minutes of unnecessary roughness". As frustrating as it has proven to be for opposing teams, it has been mostly effective for them. So when these antics occasionally backfire (see repeated floor slapping, Valentine's woofing, unleashing Russell Byrd in any capacity), it's nice to savor the moment.
My contribution to said meme is highlighting one of the strategies deployed in attempt to disrupt Stauskas's shot on Sunday. There were clearly a lot of extra curriculars targeted at Stauskas, as the numerous scrapes on his body throughout the course of the game would suggest, but the focus of this post is the Rick James approach.
As Stauskas was elevating and finishing over every defender Sparty put on him, I began to notice that MSU's players had more or less given up on trying to get a hand on the ball to block his shot. Nor were they satisfied with simply getting a hand straight up to impede his sight line or the trajectory of the ball. Instead they resorted to literal face slapping (also not a foul)...
Appling: "What did the five fingers say to the face?"
TL;DR summary - Sparty's defensive strategy:
Perhaps people with wrist boo boos should consider fewer slaps of the court, opponents faces, and what not.
As far as basketball goes, this upcoming season brings a lot of excitement and, let's be honest, raised expectations stemming from a co-big ten championship team in 2011-12.
I'm pretty sure the Badgers and Ohio [edit: I should not have forgotten to include Indiana here] will be there in the end, but I'm more certain our team will have to go through Sparty (perhaps more than once) to reach its goals.
Since it's summer and I'm bored, I did some research to try and determine how the teams match up for the upcoming season. I tried to state (within the parentheticals following a player's name) the position/s each player plays, with the earlier-stated position being the preference based on the player's history. For example "TREY BURKE (1 or 2)" means that he is ideally playing at the point guard 1 position, but he could play the shooting guard 2 position if needed; small forward is position 3, power forward is position 4, and center is position 5.
In general, I tried to group the guards into category A, the forwards into category B, and the "centers" (although bear in mind that there are few true centers playing in Big 10 basketball) into category C. The true freshmen have traditional lettering, while returning players have names in CAPS LOCK lettering. The bold lettering is for players expected to contribute meaningful minutes.
The matchups are below:
KEITH APPLING (1 or 2) and Garry Harris (2 or 1) and Denzel Valentine (1 or 2) and TRAVIS TRICE(1) (with DAN CHAPMAN (2) and KEENAN WETZEL (2) and JOE SWEENEY (1) in relief role)
TIM HARDAWAY JR (2 or 1) and TREY BURKE (1 or 2) and Nick Stauskus (2 or 1) (with COREY PERSON (2 or 1) and JOSH BARTELSTEIN (1) and [edit: Carl LeVert (2 or 1) and]Spike Albrecht (1 or 2) and ESO AKUNNE (2 or 1) in relief roles)
BRANDEN DAWSON (recovering from knee injury) (3 or 4) and DERRICK NIX (4 or 5) and BRANDAN KEARNEY(2 or 3) (with RUSSELL BYRD (4 or 3) and COLBY WOLLENMAN (3) in relief role)
Glenn Robinson III (3 or 4 or 2) and JORDAN MORGAN (4 or 5) and MATT VOGRICH (3) (with MAX BIELFELDT (4 or 3 or 5) in relief role)
ADREIAN PAYNE (5 or 4) and Matt Costello (5 or 4) and Kenny Kaminski(4 or 5) (with ALEX GAUNA (4) in relief role)
Mitch McGary (4 or 5) and JON HORFORD (healed from injury) (4 or 5) (with BLAKE MCLIMANS (5 or 4) in relief role)
What I notice is Beilein has only 3-6 players that can demand or expect major playing time (at least 20 minutes per game) based on previous production and/or recruiting hype. For Izzo, I think it's more like 7-9 players that could or will expect or demand that type of PT.
I think because of this distinction, Beiliein will have more freedom to operate Xs and Os with regard to changing lineups throughout the season. There's less pressure for him to spread a limited resource (minutes playing time) around. For example, he only has to give Stauskus and Spike minutes if they earn them. In contrast, the guards coming in for MSU are highly touted (by Izzo himself) and are competing against two proven guards in Appling and Trice. That group will test Burke and THJ for sure, but I prefer our team's tandem (with our freshman and uppperclassmen supporting them).
Group B is a little more difficult for me to analyze, however with Dawson still recovering, I have to give the edge to Michigan.
Our Group C is unproven and Sparty has talent and experience there. I have to give MSU the edge here. Hopefully we can close the gap with regard to rebounding and defensive shot blocking with our infusion of talent. [edit: McLimans, fwiw, is a player with length and experience.]
Both teams have 10 players that (most likely) will be able to give productive minutes. How many minutes does each player get? That's up to the coaches obviously, but there are only 200 minutes to give out in each regulation game.
Anyway, it looks like there will be some great games to anticipate. I wouldn't trade our group A and group B players for Sparty's or any other teams'. I think our group C has the most to prove though; I'll obviously be rooting for them.
I most look forward to seeing how Stauskus adjusts to the college game, and how well Horford bounces back after much time away. I have to believe by now, Horford can provide rebounding and defense, and maybe even put-backs and shot blocking.
Anyway, as I stated earlier, I'm bored, so I welcome any and all feedback on this topic. Thanks, all.