As we left the Cardinal before Christmas, the ESPN announcers were making a huge deal about BYwho's upset over the Cardinal. At the same time, the Spartans squeaked by Seten Hall at home by four points. Like last year we are playing one of ESPN's favorite teams and coaches. Once again, the Cardinal needs a victory to remind the nation that we are a perennially national power.
A look at the Spartan schedule finds that they are a perfect 9-0 at home and 0-3 on the road / neutral courts. Their Sagrin and RPI rating is nearly identical as is their strength of schedule. The Spartans return 1 starter from last year's team. Game time is 10:30 p.m. East Lansing time. Spartan players have probably spent more time flying than playing the last 3 days. Power Forward Adam Ballingar is out with a bad ankle (10.6 ppg). Am I saying that Michigan St. is vulnerable? Only if Stanford plays to its potential, with a chip on its shoulder, hits the boards, be physical and leaves all of themselves on the floor.
|25||Aloysius Anagonye||F||6-8||255||Jr||7.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg||Mr. Blue Collar|
|3||Adam Wolfe||F||6-9||230||So||10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg||Mr. I Want to be like Pete Sauer|
|15||Allan Henderson||F||6-6||230||Fr||7.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg||Mr. My Job is to defend Casey|
|23||Kevin Tolbert||G||6-4||225||Fr||9.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg||Mr. Mickey D "I'm going to blow right by you"|
|1||Marcus Taylor||G||6-3||195||So||15.1 ppg, 5.6 apg||Mr. Main Man|
|5||Chris Hill||G||6-3||185||Fr||11.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg||Mr. Best 6th Man and Freshman in the Big 10|
|44||Jason Andreas||C||6-10||245||So||2.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg||Mr. I have five fouls to Give|
Michigan State in a Nutshell
The Spartans play like Montgomery teams of old. Tough, physical and crashing the boards is their game. They make 35 % of their first shots and 65 % of the rest. They run a set offense. Zones and pressure defense have given the Spartans trouble. On defense the Spartans will play primarily man-to-man with some zone mixed in on in-bound situations.
Keys to the Game
1. This is a macho Vs macho game. The Cardinal needs to come out tough, physical and will need to crash the boards. One way or another the Cardinal will learn what it takes to beat a quality opponent and to be a National Championship contending team. With Ballingar out, we can wear them down if we play physical.
2. Contain Tolbert. Tolbert creates an interesting match up. He is a bruiser who could dominate Barnes. Do you put Casey or Josh at the 2? Henderson is a pretty wide body 3.
3. When Hill comes in at the point, Taylor will move to the 2. How do the Cardinal match / defend theQ&A. Given keys 1 & 2 it will be interesting to if Monty tries to match up with Michigan St. or try to settle into a rotation. Monty most years would settle into a rotation. At this point, I am not sure.
4. When the Cardinal play zone, can they move to the fast enough to the ball and can they put a body on the players crashing the boards.
5. We need to make shots.
This will be a great final test for the Cardinal. They will be able to measure where they are now and where they need to be by January 4th.
by Simon Sez
Whenever the Pete Newell Challenge rolls along, you know there is going to be a tough team waiting for Stanford to play. Two years ago it was a tough Temple team that limited Stanford to two field goals in the second half. The next year it was eventual national champion Duke who dominated Stanford for nearly the entire game. The last two years are very different teams; Stanford won each of those games, and last years was in thrilling fashion. As Stanford heads into this years Pete Newell there are many questions swirling about this team after last week's meltdown in Las Vegas. Last week could have been two things, either a wake-up call or a reality check. This team could have just had a bad game, or it could be team that isn't going to be in the top 25 this season. BYU isn't exactly a team filled with great athletes and great players, but they really exposed Stanford as a team last weekend.
This is what makes this matchup a huge game for Stanford. If Stanford were to come out with a victory in this game all would be well. We would all stop worrying about the point guard play, the team defense, Casey's shot selection and look forward to the upcoming Pac-10 season. This is all IF Stanford wins, Michigan State has been to the Final Four three-straight years, and it isn't because of tournament luck. They play extremely hard-nosed defense as seven of its 12 opponents have failed to shoot 35% from the field. Who can forget the Michigan St.-Arizona when the Wildcats started 2-20 from the field. Most of Michigan State's stellar defensive games have come at the Breslin Center where they are unstoppable but this is still a big cause for concern. Michigan State also is struggling too albeit against much better competition than Stanford has played. This is Michigan State's sixth game against a ranked opponent and so far they are 2-3. They are also a surprising 0-3 on neutral or road gyms this season, which is also a good sign. With a lot on the table Saturday night, here is what the starting lineups will look like when the teams take