Adreian Payne’s NBA career finally begins with Timberwolves

adreian-payne

The best thing that happened to Adreian Payne, NBA career wise, was getting traded away from the Atlanta Hawks and to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He wasn’t going to get much playing time with the Eastern Conference’s first place team; who have now pretty much solidified the #1 seed in the East.

Payne was drafted 15th overall by Atlanta, but never broke into their rotation; hence he was traded to the T’Wolves for a lottery-protected first round pick.

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Michigan State has many non-conference wins, but most with struggles

tom izzo michigan state

There’s no question that the teams of Tom Izzo are much better in March -when it counts- then November/December. But nothing has come easy for this Spartans team. It seems like every time they play inferior competition they struggle with them. They still win, but play way down to their level.

They did it again versus Texas, trailing in the second half. Yes, the Longhorns just knocked off a #23 ranked North Carolina team, but the Tar Heels are overrated. And UT has lost to Chaminade, USC, Georgetown and USC. State won of course, but the ‘Horns were down by just two down the stretch.

MSU’s struggles started with the upset to an inferior UConn team in Germany. They only beat Boise St. by four, not pulling away from Oakland until the closing minutes, beating Lousiana-Lafayette by just three, losing to unranked Miami team, they also trailed late in the second half to Loyola and Bowling Green. They’re just not dominating teams nor closing them out. By far, the highlight of the non-conference slate was the win over now #9 Kansas.

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#16 Michigan State Spartans: college basketball 111 in 111

izzo_msu
Welcome to the 111 in 111, guest posting edition. This year’s Michigan State Spartans are in a sort of re-loading mode, as they have to adjust to the loss of one of the greatest Spartans in history, Draymond Green. But there’s a lot of talent in East Lansing, as usual. The starting five will feature 2 McDonald’s All-Americans, and this unit will have more athleticism and perhaps more talent than last year’s group. But will they gel, and who will lead them?
They should be able to get along well; unlike the State team of two years ago. And of course, they’re coached by Tom Izzo, which means they’ll play really tough defense and rebound. But what kind of tempo will they play?

Michigan State: toughest team wins nation’s toughest conference

msu dance team

It’s the league with the nation’s best RPI and SoS; therefore the Big Ten is the nation’s “toughest conference.” And therefore the team which look the league title is toughest of the tough. “Built Ford Tough” like they say in nearby Detroit. The #5 Michigan State Spartans lost a chance to win the outright Big Ten title on a jumper by Ohio State’s Will Buford with 0.8 seconds left. But they still tied for the league crown with the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines. Something is better than nothing.

Michigan State clinched a share of its 14th regular-season Big Ten Championship, and the seventh under head coach Tom Izzo. Since MSU entered the league in 1951, only Indiana has won more titles (17), while Ohio State has also won 13. Tom Izzo is one of just five coaches in history with seven or more Big Ten titles. Just Indiana’s Bob Knight (11), Purdue’s Ward Lambert (11), Ohio State’s Fred Taylor (9) and Wisconsin’s Walter Meanwell (8) have won more.

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CONTROVERSIAL Buzzer Beater Ending as #10 Michigan St. wins at #18 Wisconsin

ryan-evans

It’s only the third of the year yet Wisconsin has three home losses this college basketball season. Seriously, when do the Badgers lose more than twice at the Kohl Center in an entire season? Let alone three times?

No. 18 Wisconsin fell to 12-4 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten with a 63-60, overtime loss to No. 10 Michigan State (14-2, 3-0) tonight. What a way for Tom Izzo to get his first ever win at the Kohl Center. The game appeared headed to double overtime after Ryan Evans’ 3-pointer at the buzzer of the first overtime. However, the play was reviewed, and it was determined by the officials that the ball was still in Evans’ hands as the clock hit zero.

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Big 10 Hoops Media Day: Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue

tom crean

Thursday was Big Ten basketball media day, and with it came a set of special quotes and soundbites. Sure, this day is all about college basketball message control. The Universities and SIDs trying to manipulate the information they want you to have, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting and articulate statements out there.

When you get all the coaches and some of the top players in one conference room, you’ll have lots of gems. In fact, I’m going to do a separate post or two on the Michigan State Spartans Tom Izzo. but here’s some of the better non-Izzo soundbites.

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Big Ten Basketball Season to Take a Small Step Down This Year

Jared Sullinger

Since 2009, we all saw this coming. Back then Big Ten basketball was dominated by a large group of sophomores that would only raise the conference profile higher to it’s peak in 2011. And we knew that once that group was gone (Kalin Lucas, Talor Battle, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Durrell Summers, Demetri McCamey etc.) the next year would see the conference take a small step backward.

Taking a look at the list of players who appeared at this year’s conference media day only verifies that fact. Preseason player of the year, and 2012 NBA Draft lottery pick Jared Sullinger was slated to appear, but did not come to Chicago due to a midterm, according to one Ohio State SID official. (So I guess those of you who believe in the sanctity of academics over athletics won this round?)

To me that was the scoop/story of the day right there, even though it was an afterthought exchange mentioned in passing. When the conference POY is supposed to be here, but isn’t, kind of overshadows the rest of the day’s events, eh?

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Mateen Cleaves Michigan State Hall of Fame Induction Speech

You remember Mateen Cleaves don’t you? The national college basketball poster child for 2000 March Madness, the fiery point guard with the Bill Cosby sweaters and large mouth who led the Michigan State Spartans to the big prize!

Yes, the ultimate personification of the term “floor general,” the greatest of the MSU “Flintstones,” has a new honor to his credit. Watch the video after the jump.

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Michigan State is a Program in Severe Crisis, but What’s Next?

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As I articulated in the first part of this feature, the Michigan State college basketball season is ostensibly over. (Follow that link for more detail, but if your only colors are green and white I’m warning you now: “there’s no comfort in the truth, pain is all you’ll find,” as George Michael told us in the 1980s)

State’s packing it in is no longer news to anyone close the program; the latest no-show at Carver-Hawkeye Arena cemented their ticket not to the NCAAs, but the NIT (if they can get 3-4 more wins this season), or more likely the second division of the Big Ten. Without hyperbole, you can say Wednesday night was the worst loss of the Tom Izzo era and it makes you wonder if there’s any confidence remaining in that locker room these days. Meaning it’s already time to start thinking about next year.

And with that, time to start taking a hard look at the host of issues surrounding the current roster.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State: Season is Essentially Over, Program in Crisis?

tom izzo

Is it all downhill for the Michigan State Spartans? Clearly, this season is over, and State has packed it in. If losing to Michigan for the first time in 1,100+ days didn’t convince you, then maybe the requirement of overtime to achieve 3/5 of their conference wins did.

No? Then last night’s phantasmagoric performance in Iowa City certainly does.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are among the worst power conference teams in all of college basketball, and probably the bottom-feeder of Big Ten bottom-feeders. And the Spartans couldn’t (or wouldn’t) guard them to save their life. With all the talent MSU has -a #2 preseason ranking attests to this- losing at all to Iowa is unacceptable. But getting blown out by the Hawkeyes? That’s simply bizarro world.

This team has quit on Tom Izzo. They seem to just be phoning it in for the rest of the 2011. So what does the dark future look like?

By Paul M. Banks

For part two of this feature go here

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Michigan State Loses 71-62 in Champaign, Blows Chance at Road Win

Tom Izzo

A big reason Michigan State won back to back Big Ten titles in ’09-’10 is their superior road record. The last two years MSU is 16-5 away from home. They had a school record 8 road wins in  2009, and followed it up with a 7-2 mark the following season.

However, this year outside of the Breslin Center has been a totally different story. The Spartans fell to the Illini in Champaign Tuesday night, in a game both teams needed in order to stay in the conference race.

The loss dropped State’s road record to 1-3 in 2010-11. Their only road win was at Northwestern on January 3rd. State is currently 12-6, 4-2 in conference, with all but one of their losses coming to a ranked opponent.

MSU’s second leading scorer, Durrell Summers, was benched tonight and at first glance you night read that sentence and quote the classic film Dodgeball: “Interesting strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for ’em.”

But Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo made switch in order to make a statement.

By Paul M. Banks
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Turnovers Don’t Fit with Michigan State Point Guard Tradition, Kalin Lucas

michigan state basketball izzo

When the Big Ten Network produced a program highlighting the most storied position traditions of excellence in the conference, Michigan State point guards took home the overall slot. All those decades of college basketball and college football and the number one is the men who have manned “the one” in East Lansing. NBA superstars, Team USA and college legends, guys like Scott Skiles, Magic Johnson, Mateen Cleaves, Drew Neitzel, Steve Smith and Eric Snow.

Playing point guard at Michigan State is a position of great power that comes with great responsibility and great scrutiny. Kalin Lucas holds the position now, with top ten freshman recruit and former Michigan Mr. Basketball Keith Appling waiting in the wings.

Appling is now starting and, along with Lucas, bringing the ball up and setting the offense. His move to the starting five gives State two point guards in the lineup; and an upgrade in ball-handling skills.

It’s mandatory because their biggest issue is turnovers.

By Paul M. Banks

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