1 Hour from Tip-Off Here in Minneapolis

Hondo S. Carpenter

January 20, 2008

Minneapolis, MN

The Barn

In case you couldn’t tell, the Spartans have come into one of the most difficult places to play (The Barn) in the Big Ten today and they actually had a good record of 15-2. The reason you may not have noticed was because there seemed to be a wide spread panic attack inside the Spartan Nation.

Make no mistake of it, the Spartan Nation has adopted the unrealistic expectations of Tom Izzo and every time the Spartans fail to play like the National Championship led team of Mateen Cleaves, meltdown ensues. I personally am not bemoaning that, in fact I wouldn’t want to be a program that didn’t expect to be great.

In fairness, the 15-2 record doesn’t tell the story of this team. Drew Neitzel has failed to play at the level he did last year, and this team is prone to mental mistakes and errors, but at the end of the day you are what your record says you are and this team is 15-2.

The Spartans had what Izzo called an “embarrassment” in Iowa City and if the Spartans plans still include a Big Ten title, they will have to win today. A task that is never easy in what many feel (myself included) is the best place to watch a college game in the nation. The Barn is old, and has none of the modern amenities. With that said, it has the character of the Old Boston Garden and for what it lacks in modern appearance it more than makes up for in ambience.

The Spartans and the Gophers (Gophs) met just 15 days ago in East Lansing (Big Ten opener) and the Spartans won 65-59. The story however was the Spartans were up 13 in the second half but let the Gophs back into it with sloppy play (19 turnovers) and poor attention to detail. It was the same sloppy play and turnovers that let the Buckeyes back into the game when MSU last played on January 15. It was a game that the Spartans had a huge lead- and for the same reasons as the Minnesota game, the Buckeyes crawled back into and the Spartans eventually won.Â

The Spartans have overcome their sloppy play this season with what they didn’t have last year and that is simply depth and athleticism. This season yielded a fresh crop of young stars and the attention to detail Spartans of last year are able to coast with help and numbers that they didn’t have last year.

This one thing is certain; the Spartans have a lot of expectations both from their fans and themselves, and from the way they have played so far this season, those expectations cannot be reached. Today will tell a story… a story that starts in less than one hour from the Barn.

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