MSU weekend recap: On turnovers, defense, dancing and bowling

Other than the hockey team off, this was clearly one of the busiest weekends in the MSU sports calendar for the season. And despite some trepidation in a few sports, it was also a very successful one. Let’s look at it sport by sport.

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Sure, there were 20 disconcerting turnovers in Sunday’s 63-60 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, just as there were the same amount against Oakland on Friday, but the 15th-ranked Spartans escaped the weekend at home as a 5-1 team. That doesn’t mean changes aren’t afoot.

Coach Tom Izzo talked about two key components where things could be altered Wednesday against Miami (Fla.): slowing down the offense and limiting playing time if his youngsters don’t stop making mistakes.

The first would be a temporary move with Travis Trice and Gary Harris out, a way to cut down on the 16.5 turnovers a game that the team is averaging so far. It might require limiting the amount MSU would break out in transition in the full-court, but that slower tempo also could help junior point guard Keith Appling avoid fatigue late in games. He had a few uncharacteristic give-aways, and a few near slip-ups, finishing with four turnovers that helped keep Louisiana in it.

The second part would also be a temporary fix to a temporary situation. With starting two-guard Harris and backup point guard Trice out, MSU is relying on freshman Denzel Valentine and sophomores Russell Byrd and Brandan Kearney to contribute important and extended minutes. Those three combined for 13 turnovers in the game.

Valentine bookended two that Izzo talked about – a throw-away on MSU’s first possession and his abysmal decision with a minute left that let Louisiana make it a two-point game. Kearney and Byrd combined for three on three straight possessions at the end of the first half, then added to the Spartans’ woes with a few more after they twice built a 10-point lead.

Valentine and Kearney – even with Izzo’s frustrations – should be safe because they add a lot of other assets to the equation at both ends of the floor. Captain Byrd, however, could be on borrowed time until Harris and Trice returns because his primary value is as a 3-point shooter – and he isn’t doing that, either, while making just 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) from beyond the arc.

“Byrd’s just got to play better,” Izzo said. “I mean, I don’t care if he makes any shots – he’s just got to not turn the ball over like he is. And if that’s asking too much, sorry.”

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: It was another staunch defensive effort as Suzy Merchant’s team improved to 5-0 with a laughable 68-35 victory over Robert Morris. The Spartans held the Colonials to just 25.5 percent shooting for the game and just 12 first-half points.

It’s been a relatively easy early go for a team that’s without two top players due to suspension and two others to season-ending injuries. Things get tougher, though, on Thursday when MSU travels to North Carolina State as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Merchant admitted the lighter-than-usual nonconference schedule has helped ease her young team through the transitionary period without guard Kiana Johnson and Akyah Taylor, who are scheduled to return in about two weeks from their nine-game NCAA-mandated suspensions. The sixth-year coach also said the game against the Wolfpack will give her team a glimpse at some stronger competition.

VOLLEYBALL: MSU will travel to Los Angeles to face San Diego on Friday in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans are 26-9, with all of their losses coming in Big Ten play and seven of those coming to teams that also are in the NCAA postseason.

FOOTBALL: It’s looking like the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Dec. 29 in Tempe, Ariz., is more and more becoming MSU’s postseason reality, though the Gator Bowl remains a very remote possibility. Winning at Minnesota on Saturday showed just how much Le’Veon Bell means to this year’s team and the program as a whole. A third straight 200-yard game gave him the Big Ten rushing title and could catapult him into theĀ  NFL, should the junior choose for forego his final season in East Lansing. But he assured himself – and the Spartans – of at least one more game together after leading them to a sixth straight bowl berth.

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23 Responses to MSU weekend recap: On turnovers, defense, dancing and bowling

  1. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    Here is a stunning headline by the Cracker: “Graham Couch: Likability aside, MSU needs Andrew Maxwell to improve”

    Could anyone take a more obvious point of view? Do they teach these skills in night school? Geeeez.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Dantonio made the statement that he has to change with the times, help is coming from Erie PA maybe in stages , maybe in a platoon system lie 2010 but sooner than Mr. Couch thinks. just my two cents.

      • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

        See, given that headline, I don’t believe the Cracker can think.

        • avatar Spartan 81 says:

          Well I dont want to pretend that I know anything more than Mr. Couch because I do not. All I know is credible sources from I believe and the sister of the coach on the shuttle bus, says the offense will look differant, plus Dantonios public statement that “we have to change with the times/” I just put two and two together because I know Dantonio is not a stupid man.

  2. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    This deserve better than just a Twiter retweet:

    MSU Hockey is hosting our Student-Athlete food drive on Saturday against Ohio State. All proceeds go to the Greater Lansing Food Bank!

    So If you go take something non-perishable, common you know you’ve got way too much soup and pasta and rice and frosted flakes.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      well said

    • avatar Chris Solari says:

      Most definitely. I’ll do a little more with it later in the week with the weekend hockey preview. Kudos to MSU associate captain Chris Forfar for posting it on Twitter.

      • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

        Glad to hear that, Chris. Saw where Michigan has gas prices 30 cents higher than the rest of the country, free soup and pasta has gotta help some.

      • avatar Spartan 81 says:

        I believe usually gives away some hockey tickets as well lots of good fans with income gaps in Mich , some spouses out of work etc appreciate those ticket you give out that he sends you.

  3. avatar Breadtruck86 says:

    Re: football – let’s go to Tempe and the easier cometition that would bring. We have the opportunity to be the only B1G team bringing home a win during bowl season that way….

  4. avatar Breadtruck86 says:


    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      What you don’t think the RB is winnable with by the B1G rep? or the 3 in Florida? You are a shrewd man, Charlie Brown.

      • avatar Spartan 81 says:

        Luke 14:31

        “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him?

  5. avatar dmbtierney says:

    The Copper-Insight.com-Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl looks about 95% certain. Too bad the lame-o possibility of Wisconsin going to the Rose Bowl holds up the bowl selection process. Because of high airfares during the holiday season, the bowls would like to release their selections quickly in order to let fans book in as soon as possible. Having traveled to many bowl games over the years, I’ve noticed that air fare prices go up weekly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. IMHO the only way MSU would have a big turnout in Tempe is if a lot of West Coast alumni attend the game. Sorrly, MSU Alumni Association, but your tours are greatly OVER priced since you decided to go for a profit a few years back. My room at the Quality Inn at 3:00 AM in the morning looks exactly like the ones at the Westin or Hyatt at a fraction of the price. And just out of curiosity, why does alternate air fares offered by the Alumni Association always cost more than those that could be obtained online? Just an old man grousing.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Well you are talking to another old man who puts twenty bucks in a padded envelope every Saturday for a Rose Bowl. Found out last year that air fares double the day after Thanksgiving so thats why I cant go to minor bowls. My father winters in AZ and will stand in for me though. You can do what the marine and I did last year stayed 5 miles away and drove in to the presser for Dantonio and Richt. All you have to do is get the bowl media guide to find out where all the events are and you can be your own tour guide.

    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      The are shooting for those with more $$ than sense, but in the present economy, they have dwindled to a smidgen of their former strength.

  6. avatar Tru Ghost of Bo says:

    Some prognosticators are pairing MSU up with TCU. They just beat Texas!!

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Here is the famous quote from the late Darryll Royal re TCU

      “They are like a cockroach. It isn’t what he eats or totes off but what he falls into and messes up.” 1961, after the top-ranked Longhorns lost 6-0 to TCU, a 24-point underdog

    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      Tx lost to Ok and WVa, too. Not sure this is 1 of Mack Brown’s better editions.

  7. avatar mysondave says:

    We keep racking up bball wins but my confidence in this group’s decision making has waned. Kearney and Valentine definitely have made progress and have certain skills that will help our team in the future. However, the tos, unless curbed will get in the way of their pt. Valentine especially looks promising and has an overall aspect to his game that is reminiscent of the one and only Magic and to a lesser degree, Draymond Green. He is a very cabable rebounder, good foul shooter, great vision of the court, a clear leader, good inside game for a guard and a questionable outside shot. Both Magic and Green also lacked the this one facet early in their careers. Before any goes bonkers on this comparison, remember, I used the word promising. I hope Izzo has realized that until Bryd quits making ridiculous tos some of his minutes could be better used to further develope Kearney and Valentine. IMHO. And as the Righteous Bros so profoundly extolled years ago “..and time goes by so slowly..” without Trice and Harris. We miss you. Go Green.

    • avatar Tru Ghost of Bo says:

      Not going “Bonkers” but your critique seems less group and more individual. But “they” need to make better decisions.
      I would hope, “they” get over their freshman/sophomore-itus. 1 three a game and 4+ turnovers, isn’t going to get it. I think Izzo has “called” them out on this. Rightly so…..

  8. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    As I said someplace, Basketball fooled everyone with the dysfunctional year 2 years ago, last year they had the same pattern and turned out pretty darn good. Is Nixer a leader? we’re going to find out.

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