Three thoughts on the first two rounds
By Geoff Preston
We should probably start by saying that these thoughts should be taken with a grain of salt. I am in the 38th percentile of my bracket on ESPN.com. While I did have Ohio over Michigan, I failed to see Norfolk State beating Missouri, to the tune of putting Mizzou in the title game. Oops. That being said, here are three things I noticed about Michigan State through the first two games of this incredible time of the year they call madness.
1. The loss of Brendan Dawson was more impactful than originally thought
We have seen flashes of brilliance on the offensive end from the 6’6 freshmen, and his defense has remained steady yet unspectacular. Inconsistency is the one thing that has plagued this highly regarded freshmen: inconsistency. This is true except in one facet of the game, and it was a glaring hole in the round of 32 game against Saint Louis, offensive rebounding.
Tom Izzo has built a pedigree and a program off of being tough, physical, and being able to get second chance opportunities. Rick Majuers preaches a similar philosophy, so when the Billikens got boards no one was surprised But the Spartans being absent on the offensive glass was surprising. This is a problem because this is not the most talented team in Michigan State history. They are not slouches by any means but if the Spartans are going to continue this magical dance party, it is going to be by out toughing teams. I can name eight or nine teams with more natural talent then the Spartans. This means that rebounding production is going to have to come from someplace else. On Sunday it was non-existent.
2. Draymond Green is one of the greatest Spartans of all time
We’ve known this for a long time, but Green’s performance in the first two rounds of the tourney cemented his legacy as a top five, or even top three, all time great Spartans. From his triple double in the first round to his character and energy willing the Spartans past a very tough Saint Louis team, this man does everything it takes to win. That is said so often in sports, to the point where it becomes a cliché, and one of the more annoying ones. In the case of Draymond Green, it is a fundamental truth about his game. An extra pass here, a rebound there, a crisp outlet pass, all the things that coaches see and salivate over while going unnoticed by most fans. That is the game of Draymond Green, and while he puts up pretty good numbers (hence the triple double) his impact goes beyond the numbers. Yuck, two of my least favorite sports clichés, I need a shower…
3. Preview of Louisville
I’ve watched Big East basketball for the majority of my life, and one thing that Louisville always was and always will be is pesky. They usually have plenty of talent, but they are not always as athletic as a Syracuse or Kentucky. One thing they are though is tough. Rick Pitino has a full court press that goes from annoying to unstoppable in a matter of possessions. Pitino is also a guy who, like Tom Izzo, seems to have a mystical ability to get his teams to play their best in March. Don’t ask me how either one does it, but both seem to be wizards once the calendar turns. The Cardinals have a much sought after inside outside presence with point guard Peyton Silva and Center Gogui Dieng. The Cardinals will be tough, and under the current circumstances, probably the toughest opponent State has faced so far. MSU is more talented, but in order to survive and advance, they have to do just that, merely survive the chaotic press Pitino is sure to throw at them and watch out for Peyton Silva.