More MSU hoops: on Dane Fife, and a season preview
Michigan State plays its second game of the season tonight, with the Spartans taking on Duke at Madison Square Garden. Unlikely as it sounds, neither the venue nor the opponent is as prestigious as in MSU’s opener last Friday night, a Veterans Day game that took place on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, with President Obama seated at courtside, against top-ranked North Carolina.
UNC won, 67-55, but there were plenty of encouraging signs for MSU fans. The Spartans’ ten-player rotation featured five newcomers (true freshmen Travis Trice and Branden Dawson, redshirt freshmen Alex Gauna and Russell Byrd, and senior transfer Brandon Wood), and while the team showed it has lots of room for improvement, it flashed big potential as well—most notably in out-rebounding the Tar Heels 42-31. (Think about Trice and Dawson for a second: True freshmen. First college game. National TV, Dick Vitale on the mic. Against #1 North Carolina. Outdoors. On an aircraft carrier. With President Obama watching from the first row. Just like high school, right?) (One last tangent: it was pretty cool to see a three-person shot on ESPN showing MSU beat reporters Joe Rexrode and Matt Charboneau with their good buddy President Obama.)
So, again: taking on Duke at Madison Square Garden in New York City tonight is small potatoes by comparison. There’s the small matter of Mike Krzyzewsi going for an NCAA record 903rd victory, but it still doesn’t compare. Krzyzewsi and Bob Knight could mud-wrestle at center court at halftime and it would be less a spectacle than the aircraft game.
Booth Newspapers of Michigan (a syndicate that includes the Grand Rapids Press and Ann Arbor News) ran one of my orphaned Maple Street Press articles today to lead up to the game, a feature on new MSU assistant Dane Fife, who left an NCAA Division-1 head coaching job at Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne (IPFW) to come to East Lansing. Here’s the link.
Also, a season-preview column originally intended for Maple Street Press posted last week at College Hoops Journal that I updated to run on the morning of the Carrier Classic.
For the record, I’m predicting MSU will upset the Blue Devils. Just like I was sure the Lions would take care of the Bears last Sunday afternoon.