Sometimes the day after Thanksgiving you run to the fridge, throw together a meal that looks real sloppy but turns out to be pretty good. That is exactly what the Michigan State men’s basketball team did slopping their way to a 70-52 win over the visiting Oakland Grizzles.
The game was not pretty at times as both teams had stretches of poor play, for example the Spartans had twenty turnovers for the game while Oakland shot just twenty seven percent from the field. I guess, just like a messy left over meal it doesn’t matter how it looks , the thing that matters is how it tastes and in the end this one tasted like victory for the Spartans. With the win the Spartans improved their record to 4-1 as they continue through their cream puff portion of the schedule.
As I said in the open paragraph it was an ugly game and both coaches agreed. After the game Oakland coach Greg Kampe opened by saying “I said to Tom after the game and he agreed, I think that was the worst played Oakland vs. MSU basketball in the series since we have moved to division one. I thought tonight was very bad basketball.” Throughout the press conference Coach Kampe was not at a loss for words when trying to describe the game and his team’s performance. At one point he said “I’ m very, very disappointed. I rather get beat 99-0 and play good basketball than what we did.”
When Coach Tom Izzo took the podium he agreed with Coach Kampe’s assessment “I’m embarrassed. I thought that was worst game Oakland and Michigan State have played.” Coach Izzo did not linger on how poor his team performed for very long as he quickly placed a lot of the blame on his shoulders. “I think it’s more my fault than the players or anyone else, we just got so many games in a row with so many new bodies in there.” Continuing on about the stretch of the schedule where his team plays almost every other day Izzo said “We got to do a better job of scheduling, I’ll be very honest with you. Not who we play but when we play them and how we play them.”
Coming into the game the story was first ever meaningful meeting between Denzel and Drew Valentine. One of the brothers ended up being the star of the game and thankfully for Spartans fans that ended up being Denzel who finished the game with ten rebounds and points to go along with six assist. After the game Denzel spoke on facing his big brother “It will not really hit me till I get back to the dorm and get into my bed but I can tell you it was really fun.” Denzel may have had fun but I guarantee it is more fun for Spartans fans blossom into a star. Without a doubt it is clear the kid has all the tools it takes to become a star at the college level.
Coach Izzo was not as impressed as most the stadium was with Denzel saying “Early Denzel was back to his one handed passes ,the most god awful turnovers, a cross court bounce pass the only one who is going to be more upset than me is his dad because he coached. Yet what I do like about Denzel is he bounced back. He told me at halftime that it’s not going to happen again. He shored up his defense, gets ten rebounds, got a couple of big offensive boards. We all know the guys going to be a hell of a player; it’s just that we need him to be too good right now because of the situation we are in.”
The Spartans held a comfortable lead for most of the game despite the turnovers and mental defensive lapses. In the second half the Grizzles managed to cut the lead to four until Denzel Valentine and Derrick Nix took over. Valentine provided nonstop energy to go along with great passes and rebounds, it was the clear the freshmen did not want to lose to his big brother. In combination with Valentines efforts once the Spartans decided to actually go to Derrick Nix things really started to fall in place as Sir Nix A lot responded with some key baskets and passes that help make the lead balloon from four to the final margin of eighteen points. Many fans in Spartan nation wonder why Nix is not more involved in the offense, good things seem to happen when the Spartans play through him, evident by the last few minutes of today’s game. Hopefully as the season progresses we will see Nix become a focal point of the offense.
After two straight ho-hum performances the Spartans return to action at noon on Sunday verse Louisiana Lafayette. Even with injuries and the short turn around the Spartans should lay down a beating on the Ragin Cajuns, no excuses. This part of the schedule is supposed to be blow outs, not sloppy turn over plagued, ugly basketball games.
Hopefully by Sunday the Spartans clean things up and come out firing on all cylinders for once. Then again we usually have to wait till March to see that.