A Great Spartan Passes Away!

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Great Spartan Passes Away: Genesee County Probate Judge and former MSU trustee Robert Weiss has passed away from a heart attack at age 69. Weiss loved MSU sports, especially basketball, and was responsible for making sure Tom Izzo was hired as the head coach, but his greatest legacy was as an advocate for children. If there was an issue that would greatly upset him, it was, “Doing something that wasn’t in the best interest of children,” according to fellow Judge Jennie Barkey as stated in the Flint Journal.  In fact he was involved in starting the Child Advocacy Center. He also was responsible for bringing the law school to MSU.

 

My first degree was in Criminal justice and I had the opportunity and privilege of appearing before him as a “mock” lawyer while in school in Flint. I also worked with his daughter one summer at Fisher Body. This is a great family and a great loss for the Spartan nation.

 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm now has the daunting task of replacing him, and let me tell you,

you can put someone in to fill his seat, but I don’t believe anyone can really fill his shoes.

 

 

 

Florida vs Oklahoma: I don’t buy the idea this wasn’t a good game or that Oklahoma didn’t show up. In fact, it went exactly how I thought it would. Despite Oklahoma having the penchant for laying down 60 points on everyone during the second half of the season, after the Gators loss to Ole Miss, they also finished the season by crushing everyone themselves. Those were two great teams that have nothing to hang their heads about. Both defenses played much better than they have previously, and the game was won in the trenches. In fact, I talked to someone who said the competitiveness in the trenches was fiercely contested, with players leaving it all on the field, and verbal barbs were traded back and forth like the heavyweight fight it was. Too often today, we crucify the losing team as not showing up and had things gone there way, the Sooners could have won. In previous

BCS games Oklahoma hasn’t competed but today they did, they just didn’t come out on top. Let this game to be a lesson to MSU, games are won by linemen and with explosive speed or game changing ability. Just one guy like Percy Harvin can make a huge difference, just like Plaxico Burress made a huge difference for MSU once upon a time. Now is Florida better than USC or even Utah? I don’t know, and that will be the debate of the day, but on this night, they were better than Oklahoma.

 

 

Michigan basketball:  Give credit to John Beilein, he is winning basketball games the right way with guys that other teams might of not wanted ala Jud Heathcote. I have been impressed how he has taken a couple of solid players in Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims, added some role players, and developed a cohesive unit. He was able to dip into the basketball crazy state of Indiana to snag Stuart Douglass and Zack Novak, two guys that few others wanted. MSU can relate to this since they once reached down to the Hoosier state to get Terry Donnelly and Scott Skiles, Spartan players that were relatively unknown coming in. In fact, Jud likes to tell the story that he had to watch Skiles twice before he would offer him a scholarship.

 

So what makes UM impressive? The way they play the game. Manny Harris has developed an all around game. He is not just a shooter-slasher anymore, but can rebound in Charlie Bell like fashion. Almost this whole team can bury three-pointers. Novak, Harris, Douglass, Kelvin Grady and new addition Laval Lucas-Perry can bomb from the perimeter. Deshawn Sims can take over a game on the inside, Jevohn Sheppard does good work on the offensive glass in spot minutes. Zach Gibson does a lot of little things well and can be a consistent force.

 

So how do you beat Michigan? Let’s start with offense. In the games I’ve watched this season, the teams that were able to consistently  pound the ball inside and used dribble penetration to breakdown the defense, had the most success offensively, as UM simply struggles to slow down opposing point guards. When this happens, it also allows slashers to attack the glass. UM also seems just average in defensive transition, giving MSU an advantage in an up-tempo game.

 

UM is an average rebounding team, so you have to attack the glass and keep Sims off the boards. UM becomes more dangerous when you not only don’t put a body on Sims, but you let Harris, Gibson on either end, and Sheppard on the offensive glass get involved.  

 

Defensively, UM is most dangerous when they are shooting three-pointers. This team can light it up and the Spartans have struggled to cover perimeter shooters in recent times. This is the part of the Spartan team that scares me. Harris is better than last year. He can take you off the dribble, he can hit perimeter shots, he can rebound, he can even block shots. Here is the good news, UM is a different team when Harris is on the bench or taken out of the game on the floor. To me you have to play lockdown defense for the entire shot clock, rotate over on the shooters, and this is where I have witnessed UM get frustrated. That means taking the first three options away from UM in Harris, Sims, and Novak, but not letting the other guys beat you either. In fact, I saw one team play UM and defend them like everyone could shoot from the perimeter, and they were the team that frustrated UM the most. This also makes the most sense. You don’t want to leave Lucas-Perry or Douglass wide open either, so you better just get solid on the ball pressure and focus on complete team defense. Plus, UM likes to use that Princeton back door stuff with Novak feeding Harris. Will MSU be ready for that?

 

UM has an uncanny ability to come back in games if you let up, and the Spartans are capable of that if don’t keep the pedal to the metal. Yet, I don’t think the Wolverines can run with the Spartans if MSU pushed the tempo. However, the biggest factor will be how well MSU defends the perimeter. I’m confident they’ll get after it on the glass, but will they get lazy on their perimeter rotations?

Especially if UM throws a few skips passes with ball reversal? Anyway, should be a great game.

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