Search Sparty Sports

Monday, November 30, 2009

Podcast Monday - 11/30

Sorry guys, I'm wayyyyyyyyyyy behind so far this week, but the holiday and catching up with stuff today has got me all off whack. 'Cast is live though, and I hit on the Spartans bowl situation, Charlie Weis, the Wings, and the basketball team playing Jekyll and Hyde so far this season.

Subscribe with iTunes!

Friday, November 27, 2009

At least it's early in the season: Florida - 77, MSU - 74.
Running close with Florida in the 2nd right now . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Glenn Winston and Roderick Jenrette have been released from the MSU football team according to the State News. Again, more details as I find 'em.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Football Players in Rather Hall Fight?

Quickly posting this as I've gotta get to dinner. The State News is reporting that a fight in Rather Hall that took place at 9:30 Sunday night could've involved MSU football players. The mob, apparently 15 to 20 people in size, stormed in to Rather and hit about 7 people, some of whom were females. Hopefully whoever was involved, athlete or not, will be punished accordingly. Mike Valenti on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit stated today that sources told him swift and severe action was going to be taken by Head Coach Mark Dantonio and the staff. More on this as I find out about it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quick Hits - 11/23

Really quick, some news that just came out this afternoon, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that the Lions have sold out the Thanksgiving game as of today against the Packers. All you Lion haters who were hoping Cousin Dave couldn't put the Lions game on while you eat your early afternoon sandwich have lost this battle.

Podcast Monday - 11/23

Lots of Spartan talk this week, including a quick verbal explanation of the bowl situation, b-ball, and hockey. Touch on the Pistons losing ways as well, but how can you possibly resist when there's Lions victory talk! Click that post title.

Subscribe with iTunes!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

lions win! lions win! 38-37 on the last play of the game!
Kalin Lucas didn't seem to mimd tumbling into the dance team right there. Raymar IS starting BTW.

MSU vs. Valparaiso - @ 12pm, BTN

Not going to be a cakewalk to Tom Izzo's record-tying 340th win as Spartan basketball head coach today when MSU hosts Valpo at the Bres. Valpo may be 1-2, but they look to me like one of those teams, like GVSU from a couple years ago, that could sneak in close due to some hot 3-point shooting. Valpo's only senior, Brandon McPherson, went 4/6 from deep against UNC to keep the Crusaders within 11 at the buzzer. McPherson also went 5/6 behind the arc in Valpo's last game, albeit against Indiana-South Bend, to give the Crusaders their first win of the season. Raymar Morgan will be a gametime decision.

As an aside, Jud Heathcote and Earvin "Magic" Johnson will both be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame later tonight. Izzo will take a plane to Kansas City for the induction immediately after the game ends today. At least that way the team won't have to deal with an unhappy Tom if things don't go to plan.

Quick Bowl Projections

Well, after yesterday, I think all of us Spartan fans should feel even half-lucky to be able to claim a third-straight bowl appearance. That finish was really indicative of a team that doesn't deserve to play in the post-season, but the extra practice, and money coming into the school, are probably worth the trip. CBS Sports was pretty quick to release their bowl projections after yesterday's action, and have MSU going to the Alamo Bowl.

I'm a little confused as to who picks when, as I always figured it went 1) Rose, 2) Capital One, 3) Outback, 4) Alamo, 5) Champs Sports, 6) Insight. However, the CBS bowl projections note that there can be a switch between the 4/5, the Alamo and Champs Sports, and they think that will land the Spartans in San Antonio, while the Wildcats would go to Orlando. That would make sense, since Northwestern played in the Valero Alamo Bowl last year, and MSU was in the Champs Sports bowl only two years ago. The flexible selection between the two bowls is also the only way to explain how a two game difference in the overall standings could be made up.

MSU would also likely finish ahead of Minnesota, who CBS has going to the Insight Bowl. Michigan State is probably a bigger draw for the higher bowl (no offense Gopher fans), and finished 4-4 in conference, while Minnesota ended 3-5. Therefore, despite the head-to-head loss, the Spartans would have the upper hand here.

The real wildcard is whether the Big Ten gets two teams into the BCS. Iowa and Penn State will be competing with the likes of Boise State, Pitt/Cincinnati, and Oklahoma State for an at-large spot. There seems to be a fairly universal split as to who is more likely to go between the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions, but there also seems to be universal agreement that their ability to draw a big crowd for the big money game will put one of those two schools in. You may not like that idea, and it might be unfair, but the Big Ten's ability to put butts in the seats trumps their recent failures when it comes to bowl selection. Finally, if Ohio State is the only team to go to the BCS, then MSU would likely play in the Insight Bowl, and Minnesota in the Little Caesar's Pizza! Pizza! bowl, which would likely love to have a Big Ten team in its first year of sponsorship.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Friday, November 20, 2009

Last Week/This Week

Last Week = W/40-37 over Purdue

Wow! Great win for the Spartans last Saturday against Purdue. According to all the statistics, especially total yards (524 - Purdue, 362 - MSU), the Boilers should've won that game. However, another great performance in the special teams arena by Keyshawn Martin, and some really clutch kicking from, in my mind the best kicker in the country, Brett Swenson, allowed the Spartans to get it done. One of my favorite points from the broadcast was the ESPN crew really pumping up Carson Wiggs' ability to hit from over 60 yards pre-game, and then missing a 49 yarder before the half. Then Swenson came out and nailed two 52 yarders in the third quarter to really put his mark on the game.

Holding Bolden to under 80 yards on 20 carries was huge as far as I'm concerned. However, I would've thought that'd result in some sloppy play by Joey Elliott, which it didn't, as he was brilliant. Going for 373 yards off 39/55 passing is phenomenal, and a QB with those stats doesn't usually lose games. Luckily, again, it was the special teams that stepped up, especially with the blocked FG late, to give MSU the upper hand.

This Week = vs. Penn State, @ 3:30pm – ABC

Two things I was surprised about regarding this game off the bat: 1) It was at 3:30, 2) Not only is it on ABC, it's basically being broadcast nationwide. The other game on at that time is Virginia @ Clemson, and that broadcast isn't even covering all of ACC country. I believe Ohio State @ Michigan is covering the entire country on ABC at Noon, but it's really strange to me that we seemingly get the more prime, late afternoon slot, and are going to have such a large viewing area.

With that in mind, the Spartans may have more TV viewers this week than any other game this season, and they need to step it up for the bowl committees. Last week's gutsy (I love using that word for the PU game) win over the Boilers gave us the needed win, but another W this week could possibly bring the Alamo Bowl to the forefront. I digress though, and I'll get back on the topic of this week's game by saying that the running games between these two teams are drastically different. Evan Royster is averaging 5.7 YPC on the season, and even backup RB Stephfon Green is averaging 4.7, more YPC than either Larry Caper or Edwin Baker. I know I tend to focus on yards per carry as a stat way to often, but I think it's important in terms of making it difficult for an opposing defense to gameplan.

The Nittany Lions didn't play well against the other two Big Ten heavyweights, Ohio State and Iowa, and Daryll Clark threw one and three interceptions in those games respectively. Keeping Clark on his toes with pressure from the front four of MSU is vital, and should happen at least a handful of times as linemen such as Colin Neely have stepped up in recent weeks. The Spartans also hold an advantage in special teams, where Penn State is one of the worst teams in the nation in punt return (107th) and kick return (113th) averages. Kicker Collin Wagner is also only 1/4 from beyond 40 yards so far this season.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spartans - 75, Gonzaga Bulldogs - 71

Close win, but a few perks came along with it. Mainly the second half play of Durrell Summers, and the gutsy comeback by Raymar Morgan after a nasty ankle sprain. 20 turnovers, the far majority taking place in the 1st half, was just silly, and it's a miracle Gonzaga wasn't up by more than 5 at the break.

MLS in Detroit?

Pontiac SilverdomeThe Silverdome may get a new lease on life.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Silverdome may get a new lease on life . . . as host to an MLS franchise. The Toronto-based real estate company that purchased the property for a measly $583k, more on that in a minute, told the real estate firm conducting the auction that they had plans to bring in an MLS team, as well as a women's professional soccer team. Montreal is reported also in the mix for a new franchise, and, I'm assuming, are probably a lot closer to getting a deal done.

I really do question the timing of this move. I don't feel I need to discuss how economically depressed the Detroit market is, on top of the country in general. However, on top of that, is there really a market for professional soccer in Detroit? I know a lot of kids play the sport when they're really young, and we all loved the Neon and Rockers when they were around, but I can't see them drawing incredibly well. It'll also beweird to see them play in an 80,000 seat stadium that they'll never even come close to selling out, let alone filling 1/8th of the way.

Finally, just to comment briefly on the price tag, it's ridiculous. Four years ago, there was a $20 million offer for the Silverdome, and now we're down to 1/40th of that! It's pretty nuts, but, if an MLS team does come in, maybe we'd see some good sports return out of it.

Monday, November 16, 2009


About to go to bed, but figured I had to comment on how hilariously bad the Cleveland Browns were in tonight's Monday Night Football game. Brady Quinn was 13-31 for a WHOLE 99 YARDS! WHOA! Simply mind blowing. That offense really does rival the Lions in terms of ineptitude.

Podcast Monday - 11/16

A less sick version of the Sparty Sports podcast comes to light today, as I tough on MSU football, hockey, and men's and women's basketball. The Red Wings and Lions are also discussed, but I try to keep the Lions talk to a minimum, as I'm not in the business of torturing my listeners.

Subscribe with iTunes!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MSU Hockey Gets the Sweep

In what was a huge night for the Spartan hockey team already this season, the hockey team swept U-M, and claimed first place in the CCHA. Merrifield and Rowe got the goals for MSU, and Corey Tropp and Steve Kampfer appeared to put last year's fiasco at Yost Ice Arena behind them last night with a post-game handshake and chest taps.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ugly win, but without Brett Swenson, there's no way we would've even been in it.

Halftime Thoughts

The defense stinks, the offense can't take advantage of a sub-par Purdue secondary, and Caper and Baker look like they really aren't quick enough to break any big ones. Not great being down 20-17 at the half, but they're still in it. We've got to keep Elliott from picking us apart, but it did look like there were a couple holding "no calls" on that last Purdue TD drive.
14-13 in the 2nd. Good play-fake to Hawken for the TD.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Victory for MSU (Hockey)! 3-2.

Quick Hits - 11/13

Every once-in-a-while, basically when I have time, I'll come on and put together a "quick hits" column that links to some recent sports news. Here's the first entry:

Tate's Troubles - Friday the 13th may be a little overrated as an "unlucky" day, but it may ring true for the Michigan football program today. According to this article on the Bleacher Report, Tate isn't going to be starting tomorrow against Wisconsin, Denard "Shoelace" Robinson is, and he's also considering transferring. Devin Gardner's impending enrollment in January may be a factor.

MSU Football Recruiting - The Detroit Free Press is reporting that New Jersey athlete Sherard Cadogan is likely returning for a second visit to East Lansing for the Spartans game against Penn State. He wasn't able to stay long against Iowa, as he had his own game in N.J. to play. Cadogan could play tight end, linebacker, or defensive end at the college level.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Week/This Week

Last Week = W/49-14 over Western Michigan

WHOOOOOOOOOOOO! Celebrate good times!

Well, not quite. Even though the Spartans actually looked somewhat impressive, especially Captain Kirk and his 353 yards through the air, this was, as I mentioned last week, a Bronco team that was practically running on empty. They had just lost to Kent State the week before, and Tim Hiller’s stats this season, particularly in their loss to Central Michigan, make it clear that team has zero running game. Against the Chips, Hiller fired for 410 yards off 66 attempts! West actually ran for 96 yards with a 4.6 YPC average, but that still puts a crazy load on your QB.

Ashton Leggett (right) was the big story that everyone liked to talk about for the Spartans this weekend, as he went for 110, including a 71 yard TD run early in the game, as the team’s primary runner. Leggett got the playing time coming off the news of Caulton Ray and Andre Anderson’s dismissals from the team for “unspecified reasons.” It’s great that MSU has a lot of depth at the running back position, but it makes it difficult when it’s clear that the freshman, especially Edwin Baker, may be talented, but aren’t quite ready for the spotlight. Baker had a solid 5.2 YPC average against Western, but runs of 37 and 39 yards helped his average drastically in games against Iowa and Western Michigan respectively.

This Week = at Purdue, @ 12pm – ESPN

Can the Spartans go bowling? This week will probably be the key. Bruce Feldman’s bowl projections for ESPN have MSU heading to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl, a game that is affiliating itself for one of the last times with the Big Ten. But, I digress, especially since the Spartans actually have to win to be eligible. MSU’s 5-5 right now, needing 6 wins to become eligible. Even though the Penn State game is at home, and they didn’t look all that great last week against the Buckeyes, most would still agree that the Purdue game is the more winnable of the two.

The key to beating the Boilers is stopping Ralph Bolden. Joey Elliott went buck wild against Michigan last week for 367 yards, but that’s because Bolden opened him up, going for 98 on 16 carries. Against Wisconsin, where Elliott threw for only 5 completions, 59 yards and a pick, Bolden ran for only 37 yards on 10 carries. That’s a 2.4 YPC difference folks, and 3.7 YPC isn’t going to open up the passing lanes quite like 6.1 will. Greg Jones and Co. will have to be on their game to make sure they keep Bolden between the tackles and don’t let him outside, where he can be dangerous for the big gain.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Podcast Monday - 11/9

I'm hopefully going to release a podcast every Monday, and this is the first exclusively Sparty Sports podcast that I've released. It's 20 minutes long, and touches on MSU football, hockey and basketball, as well as the Pistons and Lions.

To access the podcast, since I haven't explained that, click the title of the post, "Podcast Monday - 11/9."

Also, forgot to give a shout-out to the women's field hockey team for their Big Ten Championship win on Sunday, 3-2 over Indiana.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My First Podcast!

This is my first foray into podcasting. This first podcast serves a dual purpose, as I talk about both tech and sports as well. I hit on the Verizon Droid, Windows 7, and MSU Football, so enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Basketball Recruiting: Adreian Payne & Brandan Kearney

Tom Izzo landed his first "blue chip" recruit since Delvon Roe this past week, when Dayton, Ohio's Adreian Payne decided to suit up for the Spartans. He's ranked 23rd in the ESPNU 100 for the class of 2010, and 20th overall in the Rivals 150. He's a 6' 9" multi-dimensional post player, with a ton of (everyone's favorite word) upside.

I've never seen the kid in person, so I can't really give you an opinion on his abilities. However, if you happen to have an ESPN Insider subscription, I would recommend reading Paul Biancardi's writeup on his abilities. They compare his athletic talents to the top-ranked PF in the class, Perry Jones.

And, as I was writing this, an article that started of as an Adreian Payne only blurb has turned into a basketball recruiting joy-fest! Tom has also landed his first recruit for 2011 in SG Brandan Kearney out of Detroit Southeastern. Kearney's resume is impressive, as he was on the USA's FIBA U-16 Team that won the gold medal last summer, and will be coming in the season after current starting SG Chris Allen runs out of eligibility. lists Kearney as a 4-star prospect.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Last (Couple) Week(s)/This Week

Two Weeks Ago = L/15-13 to Iowa

Where to begin with this one. The Spartans appeared to have the stars aligned after the crazy hook-and-lateral taken by Blair White on a late third-down, and then his 30-yard TD reception with 1:37 remaining. However, Stanzi, who hadn't looked all that spectacular all night long, brought the Iowa offense down the field with authority, hitting Marvin McNutt on the quick slant as time expired. My Dad mentioned to me after the game that there was a point on one of the final drives where the start of the clock was delayed at least 7 seconds, but you've gotta make a stop somewhere on that last drive regardless. Chris L. Rucker did the same thing I would've done once McNutt made the catch; kept whacking at his arms for a good 5 seconds, in complete denial of what had just occurred.

The surprising stat to me had to be the lack of turnovers from either side. Kirk Cousins has proven that he's not really turnover prone, so I wasn't really expecting interceptions. However, the inability for some of the young runners for MSU has been obvious, so I was pretty shocked not to see one pop out. As for the Hawkeyes, I also heard after the game that there may have been an Iowa fumble on that last drive that wasn't called, but I can't remember it from being in the crowd. In the end, it was two gutty drives that defined each team. It's just too bad that Iowa's drive was the one resulting in gloom and doom for the Green and White.

Last Week = L/42-34 to Minnesota

The Iowa loss wasn't a "bad" loss, this one was. MSU never really looked in the game, even with the 31-28 brief lead, despite a school record 17 penalties for 157 yards. SEVENTEEN PENALTIES! I mean, a lot of them were warranted, don't get me wrong, but I certainly would've wanted to take off the heads of the refs if I were a Gopher fan in Fifth-Third Bank Stadium on that night. Again, in spite of the penalties, it was really just two huge plays from Keyshawn (the BTN announcers think my last name's Johnson) Martin that even made this thing close. His 93-yard kickoff return to open the second half, followed about 10:00 later by an 84-yard end-around made things somewhat interesting, but Weber grilled the Spartans through the air for 416 and 5 TD's.

This Week = vs. Western Michigan, @ 12pm - Big Ten Network
All the glitz and glamour the end of the season could've contained for the Spartans is gone now, and it's dog-fighting for a bowl game time. A 6-6 finish is no longer guaranteed, and a win over the Broncos in Spartan Stadium is an absolute necessity. The positive is probably that Western isn't the MAC powerhouse that some thought they would be pre-season, as the Broncos have dropped conference games to Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, and Kent State just last week. Tim Hiller can still throw the ball, however, and the Michigan State secondary is going to have to have a significantly better day than they did against Adam Weber last week if they want to avoid the upset.