The Robertson Report

Let's get one thing straight right out of the gate: Saturday's 71-61 win was no upset. I don't care what the rankings say, the better team won. Mario Austin, in his 2002 debut, led the reigning SEC Tournament champs into the Big Apple and put an end to a sordid chapter in MSU and NCAA basketball history. Mario is back with a vengeance. After sitting out what seemed like an eternity, Mario Austin picked up right where he left off last season.

Austin had 28 points in 32 minutes, but just as important as his offensive output was his presence. It's Mario's team and nothing could be clearer after Saturday's statement game. Once the news of Austin's NCAA ruling was official, two sounds could be heard around the south, a sigh of relief by most and a long groan by others. The powers that had worked so maliciously and diligently to rob the Bulldogs of their star forward had been foiled. Austin at times looked like he could have jumped out of Madison Square Garden. He looked very happy and relieved to be back on the court wearing Maroon and White.

The cloud that hung over the team during the NCAA process did have a silver lining. Marcus Campbell got some quality work and that should pay huge dividends down the stretch. Timmy Bowers has been nothing short of phenomenal. Bowers hit his average on Saturday with 18, 2 of which came on the business end of a very personal alley-oop. Bowers at times was down right mugged by the Xavier guards. Timmy played 36 physical minutes and was 8-11 from the floor including 2 big three pointers. In fact, Bowers was 6-6 inside the arc. The Bowers scoring threat draws many comparisons to Darryl "Super D" Wilson of earlier Bulldog fame.

Nine Bulldogs got their names in the box score and each had key contributions. Michal Ignerski had a couple of breakaway slam dunks and seven big rebounds. While Iggy hasn't quite found his stroke from outside yet, he has been a monster on the boards. Now that Austin is back and will draw a lot of attention it should give Michal some open looks from outside. I expect Michal to really get it going on the offensive end come the conference schedule.

The win was very satisfying for Bulldogs everywhere. This was the team that everyone hoped to see, but feared that they would not due to a high school class six years ago. This Bulldog team promises to be special and you really have to hand it to Coach Stansbury, his coaching staff and our players. It would have been very easy for the team to phone it in and feel sorry for themselves, but they didn't do that. They prepared and flat out waxed some people during Mario's absence.

It is now time for Bulldog fans to do their part. Now that the attorneys and investigators are out of the picture it's time for some real basketball. The Bulldogs have some key road contests coming up in Jackson, New Orleans, and Mobile. There is no excuse for our kids to play in front of half-filled arenas. Jack town should be a sellout. For all of you that can't make a game in Stark Vegas on a school or work night the game has been brought to you. The Jackson area has some of the greatest Bulldog fans in the whole nation and that should be obvious when the Dogs come to town. I don't know how rowdy the Jags students will be in Mobile, but Gulf coast Dogs you need to be there to find out. For all of us Bullies exiled to Tigerland and the Big Easy, we get the sweetest deal. We get to watch the Dogs in another huge non-conference battle with Oklahoma in the New Orleans arena. Don't forget MSU visits LSU on January 11th.

MSU students, "Rick's Rowdies", "Stans Fans", and all others you need to pack the Hump. We need to make sure that teams that come to campus expect to lose. The crowd makes a huge difference and our fans have to take the next step just like we expect the team to do. With Mario back in the saddle and so many scoring options on the floor this will be a year to remember. Go be a part of it!

Until next week's bowl picks,

Steve Robertson
Ephesians 4:32

Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is

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