For all of 2017, Mike Castellani AKA SpartyInTheUSA is going to let you dive into his brain and see the odd yet spot on player rankings of your Michigan State Spartans. Buckle up, Spartans.
Miles Bridges and Kenny Goins - The golden standard of Michigan State basketball tonight was upheld by two players for different reasons. Facing what seemed to be an uphill challenge against a red hot (9 wins in 10 games) and angry (that one loss was to Michigan State) Minnesota team, Miles Bridges put this one out of reach very quickly. Early in the first half he took a rebound coast to coast and assisted on a Langford 3, and proceeded to score the next 6 MSU points. Closing out the first half, Bridges scored 10 more points including 4 – 4 free throws and 2 made three pointers. MSU didn’t have Bridges in the overtime win against Minnesota in December, and his presence was a game altering difference on the offensive and defensive end of the court. His 16 points was a game high in the first half, but he also made life more difficult for Minnesota bigs and Jordan Murphy in particular. Also falling into this category would be Kenny Goins. Kenny didn’t boast the most impressive of stats in this outing, but man did he step up big with Ward sitting in early foul trouble. His 5 first half rebounds helped Bridges keep Jordan Murphy off the glass (21 rebounds last outing vs. MSU) and he provided a solid performance on the offensive end despite playing at likely less than 100%. Can Kenny be an effective rim protector against the elite big men in the Big Ten? Let’s not count our chickens before they Happ! If you pooled 100 Michigan State basketball fans, I’d recon that 100 or so of them would vote Derrick Nix as their favorite twitter account of the last few years. Outside of one alarmingly offensive tweet regarding the departure of Javon Bess and Marvin Clark, JR. Derrick was honest, funny, and had a signature tweet to boot. Miles and Kenny, you are the Derrick Nix twitter account!
Josh Langford was one of the players on a tier just below Bridges and Goins. Outside of a stretch where he picked up two quick fouls in the second half, Langford really started to display that “old man’s game” Izzo often talked about, hitting two tough mid-range jumpers in the first half that can really stretch a defense along with an early three. Josh continued his performance in the second half by continuing to shoot the leather off the ball and finishing with 13 points, nearly a career high. Josh was clearly an important performer today, but it was nice to see him come out of seemingly nowhere to burst onto the scene, as he scored double digits once in the last eight games and this was his first Big Ten game in double figures. You know what tweet from MSU athletics this reminded me off? It reminded me of this gem from the MSU football recruiting account that not only had substance to it, but also served as a reminder to the rest of the world that MSU was to be taken seriously. #ThoseWhoHaveStayedAreAlreadyChampions
Eron Harris – The young man proved he will be a valuable contributor the rest of the year, even if he isn’t the go to scorer we hoped he would be in every game. Izzo got him the ball on a wonderful baseline out of bounds play for an open knockdown three early on, and Harris was able to create a layup and another and-one on his own off the dribble to help put this out of reach in the first half. Eron continues to remain a solid player for MSU, who can do a little bit of everything. Ya know what other Twitter handle can do a little bit of everything…@Money23Green. Seriously, how perfect a twitter handle is that? It touches all the important bases 1. What drives you (Money) 2. Your basketball number (23) and 3. Your favorite color AND last name. It’s a rare perfect twitter handle that works on many levels. Sometimes when I’m talking to my friends instead of saying something confusing like “did you see Draymond play last night” I will say something very transparent such as “did you see Money23Green play last night”?
Cassius Winston - He didn’t make a huge mark on the scoreboard today, but proved to be a key part of this team as he came off the bench (Izzo cited “player rotations” as the reason Tum started over him) and put up 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Cassius wasn’t flashy, he wasn’t anything exciting, but he got the point across and will continue to be a focus of opponents scouting reports throughout the Big Ten season especially if he can provide a spark off the bench. Similarly, even though they aren’t creative or exciting, you have to admire the respect that such straightforward and to the point Twitter handles such as @DenzelValentine and @IamNickWard can command.
Tum Tum and Matt McQuaid – These two were on the same level today. Tum’s aggressive performance against Minnesota last game was way above where he played today and Matt McQuaid had a few flashes but was mainly nowhere to be seen, only attempting one 3 and scoring 0 points. Tum and Matt, today you guys are compared to Josh Langford’s twitter account, @TheJoshLangford. The reason for this is that we didn’t see you guys today, and Josh hasn’t tweeted since last March, but it’d be pretty cool if you showed up going forward.
Officials - During the first half, the refs officiated a very enjoyable game of basketball. They were letting touch fouls go and kept the pace of play exciting. They did, however, miss a bizarre goaltend on a Nick Ward shot as well as call a few touch fouls as the half wore down. In the second half, Ted Valentine lived up to his nickname as TV Teddy and the refs called two ticky tack fouls on Langford in the same possession as well as a few more calls on Ward that confused me and my completely nonbiased opinion. That being said, the game was fun, consistent, enjoyable, and still something to discuss after. If you’ve ever watched a Draymond Green playoff game while scrolling his mom’s Twitter feed, you’ll know exactly why I used those adjectives to describe both.
Nick Ward – This was a rare bad game for Nick, who completely flipped the script on his previous performance against Minnesota. Nick was in foul trouble in the first half, and let an alley oop slip through his hands. Izzo opted to let him play in the second half with four fouls, and though he was effective during his short time in the game, he fouled out fairly quickly. Nick Ward’s performance today reminded me of Tom Izzo’s thoughts towards Twitter as a whole, he didn’t really see a need for it tonight.
Nobody -The worst people on Twitter are the adults and grown men who tweet mean things to recruits. There is no reason for a grown man to tweet mean and derogatory things to a recruit who is making or has just made one of the hardest decisions of their lives, not to mention the recruits are often 17 or 18 years old (the obvious exception to my last point would be Mitch McGary, who I believe was 33). Considering the margin of victory for MSU against the quality of opponent, nobody played poorly enough to be compared to an adult harassing an 18 year old on Twitter.
Great win for MSU, and I don’t think I can say anything clever enough to put it in perspective. I’ll let Mr. Derrick Nix make a cameo here.
Victory for MSU,