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.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t fully understand the history and uniqueness of the Palestra since I was born a handful of years after it was built, but after listening to SVP’s segment on it and listening to Izzo talk about it, I was sold. I admire Izzo for putting his student athletes in a place where they have an opportunity to play in an arena that is largely responsible for building college basketball on a national scale. Watching the game and reading about the arena, you couldn’t help but focus on the amount of history not only in the arena, but in the entire city as well. It is without further ado that I present you my player rankings for the Michigan State vs. Penn State game as they relate to historical monuments and happenings in the city of Philadelphia, PA.
Tum Tum – Before I get started on actual historical monuments, I think we need to take a moment to recognize the Rocky movies, as they are beloved in Philadelphia. The first movie is a gritty story of a kid who nobody expects to do much, yet he ends up runner up to the best boxer in the world. In the first half of the Penn State game, Tum, the always gritty, undersized point guard was getting to the hoop with ease and confidence. An 8 point performance was very much needed to give MSU a shot at this game in the second half. When I heard they made Rocky 2, I was kinda skeptical. The first one was great, why make a second one? Tum’s second half performance mirrored that thought. Tum did good things that made his playing time easily justifiable, without being too flashy. His defense was its’ usual self, and he cut down on the turnovers, but the offense wasn’t doing much in general.
Miles Bridges – You can’t mention Philadelphia without thinking about Philly Cheese Steaks, just as you can’t talk Michigan State basketball without mentioning Miles Bridges. However when it comes to Philly Cheese Steaks, you can walk around Philadelphia and get some great eats, or you can get some phony garbage. Today, Miles was the phony garbage that none of us wanted especially when we were expecting something so much better. His second half block at the rim of Julian Moore could have been a game changer, but the opportunity was wasted in the following possessions. Miles needs to be a consistant player as MSU’s offense continued to search for options and failed to get good looks at the basket all day.
Alvin Ellis – Alvin is the perfect example of how things that were previously so astounding can change really quickly. Speaking of movies filmed in Philadelphia, you guys remember National Treasure? The one where Nicholas Cage stole the Declaration of Independence? That movie was pretty good for what it was supposed to be (again, Nicholas Cage stole the Declaration of Independence) it didn’t make any sense at all, but it was fun to watch! In the first half, Alvin was great. He was attacking, pushing the ball, and trying to get to the rim. Then, in what I can only assume was a comedy of errors, THEY MADE A SEQUEL (I didn’t actually see the second National Treasure movie, but what does Nicholas Cage steal? The Statue of Liberty?). Alvin was subpar in the second half, he had some good shots but nothing fell when we really needed it to and his aggression was noticeably held in check. There was a third National Treasure rumored to happen, and for the sake of this article I’m assuming it would be a top 5 movie ever made which culminated in Nick Cage stealing the Taj Mahal. Similarly, I can only assume Alvin is going to put up 31-18-22 against Minnesota on Wednesday.
Nick Ward – Nick was the main bright spot for Michigan State. Penn State was a little delayed on sending double teams, but Nick handled them excellently and he noticeably commanded the ball in the first half, something that will need to carry over from game to game. When the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were being signed in Philadelphia, it was very clear that those documents would lay the groundwork in America for generations to come. I think this team is going to go as far as Nick will take them, and that is the main reason for optimism going forward. When Nick is great, Michigan State is great. Whatever he decides to do will be the foundation for Michigan State going forward. Nick’s variety of skills will benefit Michigan State in a handful of ways, as he can draw fouls, score in the post, and has been great at passing from the post to shooters.
Eron Harris –I’ve been a big fan of Harris since he transferred to Michigan State, and I’m so excited for him if he ever decides to live up to his potential going forward. The Liberty Bell, located in Philadelphia, is an exciting piece of American history but there are some obvious cracks right down the middle. Eron has all the talents to take this squad to the next level, but he was inconsistent and hesitant today. His performance early was great with 5 points and you fans and I were excited to see what he’d do tonight, but he didn’t quite live up to what you wanted the rest of the game to be. I’ve never visited the Liberty Bell, but I can imagine I’d be excited to see such a key part of history and then being disappointed when I see the final product.
Cassius Winston – I once had a roommate who was originally from Pennsylvania, and he would always tell me how Taylor Swift was from Philadelphia but in reality she was born a short ways down the road in Reading, PA. You notice it living in Chicago, too. People always say “Oh I live in Chicago” when in reality they live outside the city. I believe this is because it’s just a little sexier for a superstar to say they’re from a big city. Cassius will be an elite player one day but was a freshman today, looking overwhelmed and getting in foul trouble early while failing to get on the scoreboard until the game was already decided. This was a crash course back to reality that Cassius will be great one day, but he isn’t there yet. As it relates to Pennsylvania, Cassius is still from Reading but it’s only a matter of time until he gets to say he’s more Philadelphia.
Matt McQuaid and Josh Langford – We’ve all been taught in school that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in Philadelphia, but it turns out that’s not really true. It’s a nice backstory as to the origins of the American icon but as a whole there isn’t much substance to the story. That’s how Matt McQuaid and Josh Langford played against Penn State. We hear a lot about what is expected of them and for good reason as they are good players that have shown their ability to contribute in the past, but there was no substance to their games today and they played sloppy, especially on offense where we need production from McQuaid and Langford.