...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
So Why Should You Know Him? First and foremost, because it’s great rooting for goofy-looking Canadians to do badass things on a basketball court. I loved him last year, but now that he’s turned into a star, it’s even better. Nik Motherf—in’ Stauskas is fun for everyone.
I have no idea if Stauskas can be as good as Klay Thompson in the NBA, but for now, the Klay comparison works well. Imagine if there were no Steph Curry in Golden State and it were on Klay to lead the offense. Substitute Trey Burke for Curry, and that’s sorta where Michigan is right now. They have an improved Caris LeVert, Glenn Robinson III … but it all starts with Stauskas, the Lithuanian Canadian wild card at the center of the offense.
Blue Guava posted this in the other Nik thread and also mentioned that the author missed the "not just a shooter" memo, but it's nice to see Nik getting the pub on the "journalistic" side of the WWL
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.
Obviously not just a shooter reference included in the write-up:
These matchup nightmares aren’t necessarily an elite scorer, a potential NBA lottery pick or someone who fills up the stat sheet each night. They’re simply the toughest players in college basketball to get ready for. Certain stars are obvious: Kansas’ Joel Embiid, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Duke’s Jabari Parker come to mind.
But who are some under-the-radar matchup nightmares? Which lesser-known players affect a coach’s preparation more than almost any others? Let’s take a look at the top 10.
Great article. Money quote about halfway down.
Uh-oh quote, from dad: "He knows all he has to do is keep his nose to the grindstone for another couple of months, and there's a really good possibility he might be able to go pro. He's working really hard to achieve that."
With all the Football Post-Mortems, it's time to remember: It's Basketball Season. Stauskas is a game time decision, GRIII is playing.
9:15PM Eastern on ESPN. Go Blue. Beat Duke.