Ever wonder what it would look like if your rec-league or intramural squad took on Michigan State’s basketball team?
Wonder no more. We saw it Saturday afternoon, as MSU easily destroyed Nicholls State, 84-39.
The game should have been played at Court One North Athletic Club or an undersized church gymnasium somewhere.
Nicholls State didn’t have its best two players — 22-point scorer Fred Hunter (injury) and last-year’s scoring guard Dantrell Thomas (eligibility).
Without them — and who knows with them (might not have made a ton of difference — the Colonels resembled a community college team. Nothing wrong with that. Except they were playing in the Big Ten.
What does MSU get out of it? Well, another win. The Spartans are 6-2 and at the end of the year, no one knows the difference between Louisiana Lafayette and Nicholls State.
And, for Gary Harris and Travis Trice, both of whom lost their wind by the end of Wednesday’s loss at Miami, this was a good run. Just as if it was noon at the old Downtown Lansing YMCA.
For players such as point guard Keith Appling, worn down a bit by playing too many minutes and the quick succession of games, it was a less strenuous afternoon than any practice.
This was also the debut of what figures to be MSU’s lineup — and maybe it’s rotation — the rest of the way.
Adreian Payne came off the bench, with Branden Dawson moving down to power forward and Harris back in the starting lineup, alongside Appling, Valentine and Nix.
The back end of the rotation seems to be Matt Costello and Russell Byrd. Costello is clearly yet to pass Alex Gauna for minutes and Byrd, a captain, can’t buy a bucket, his put-back that grazed the rim Saturday the closest he came to a field goal until a garbage time 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining.
Perhaps that’ll boost his confidence and take the lid off the basket. It seemed to 30 seconds later, with he cupped the ball, split the defense and scored on a layup.
I thought MSU handled this game with maturity. After a sluggish start, the Spartans weren’t sloppy. MSU’s 20 assists on 33 baskets is the best example of this.
Afterward, Izzo called it a game his team needed a little bit, including a few smiles late from players he didn’t know had teeth.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff figures to offer a slightly more Division I-ish test Wednesday night.