MSU wins big, WMU loses big and a new TV booth for the Tigers
MSU Blasts Northwestern
Michigan State bounced back in a big way from last weekend’s home loss to Illinois. They manhandled Northwestern 68-44 last night. It was a display of complete domination for the Spartans who finished the first half on a 22-1 run and led by 24 at the half. That lead grew to as many as 35 in the second half as the Spartans defense stifled the Wildcats. Northwestern shot just 18% in the first half and finished the game at 35% with 15 turnovers. Michigan State was led by Travis Trice who came off the bench to score 16 points. The win moves MSU up into a five way tie for second place in the Big Ten.
The biggest talk about MSU today concerns the starting line-up going forward. Yesterday Lourawls Nairn (Tum Tum) made his second start of the season in place of Travis Trice. While he wasn’t overly impressive on the stat line with just four points and two assists, the team did play much better. The future of the starting line-up certainly should be a discussion topic as should a lot of things. Anything that can get results can’t be overlooked at this point. When it comes to the line-up though the biggest thing that will be pointed to is the fact that the two most lopsided conference wins came with Tum Tum in the starting line-up (last night and the Indiana game). Now, is one freshman starting in place of a senior really the difference? I don’t know if it’s the one thing that’s changing everything, but Trice did seem to be more comfortable coming off the bench. So if Nairn in the starting line-up can help Trice it in turn helps the whole team.
The problem with Nairn playing a lot is the fact that he can’t shoot at all and he’s still so small that when he gets to the lane at times he can’t do a lot other than dribble all the way through and back out again. Still, he’s one of the few guys on this team who can take someone off the dribble. So if he can use his quickness to draw other defenders in he can find the open shooter. It still is pretty impressive that he can still take someone off the dribble when opposing teams know he can’t shoot and so they will give him an extra step. Nairn probably isn’t going to solve all of their problems, but if he can help solve the consistency of Trice it will be a big benefit to this team.
Western falls hard
Western Michigan was largely uncompetitive last night as they fell on the road at Bowling Green 65-49. Western was stifled by the Bowling Green defense and was held to just 34% shooting. They shot just 30% in the first half and while they were slightly better in the second half they also went 0-7 from behind the long line after the midgame break. Their shooting woes went along with 17 turnovers and just five assists. All in all, it was a poor performance on the road for the Broncos when they had little room for error. The loss drops the Broncos back to 5-6 in the conference and now three games out of first place in the West division.
There’s no good way to put this because they simply didn’t play well last night. They got just 19 combined points from the trio of Brown, Tava and Haymond. There’s no way they can win if all three of those players only score in single digits. Sure you give credit to BG for playing solid defense but the Bronco’s offense has to come up with more than that. I know it’s easy to point to the absence of Austin Richie, but this is beyond it being about just one player. There aren’t many MAC teams who can lose a senior PG for three weeks and not take a hit. Still, with five losses in their last six games it’s a bigger issue than just one player could solve. They are now coming out of one of their toughest stretches of the season and can come home and hopefully get some things figured out.
It’s a sad state of affairs here because this team has fallen off the tracks at this point. We are pretty close to the point of saying any chance of winning the division is out the window. The only reason I won’t go all that far is because they still have games against both Toledo and CMU again. With both games at home they could easily make up ground by winning those games. They also have a very favorable schedule the rest of the way with five of their final seven at home and their two road games are to Ball State and Northern Illinois. They will still need help beyond that though. I still think there’s talent on this team, but they need to get this thing figured out and do it in a hurry because at this point there is zero room for error.
Tigers broadcast booth undergoing changes
In Tigers news the team announced yesterday that the television broadcast booth will be undergoing changes this year. Rod Allen won’t be in the booth for every game anymore. Instead he will share the color commentating duties with former Tiger greats Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson. The Tigers tried a three man booth at the end of last season when Morris joined the broadcasts. Some felt at that time it was a chance for Morris to audition for a future role with the team. Perhaps that really was the case. Meanwhile, Gibson is moving back into the booth after his five year stint as the Diamondbacks manager. He previously served as the Tigers’ color commentator from 1998-2002 before going down to the dugout. It appears the breakdown will see a fairly even split between the three and it will probably mean an increased role for some of them back in the studio.
This is just as big a story about Rod Allen being demoted as it is about bringing on the other two. Allen spoke very highly yesterday saying he wasn’t getting demoted, but rather they were just adding to the FSD family. While certain people don’t care for him, I personally don’t have a big problem with Rod Allen. I find him entertaining and his predictability is humorous to me. The fact that he somehow seems to have a connection to every player and coach in the league via playing with them, their dad or uncle is amazing to me. I also love all the old stories he tells about his great days with the 1984 team (something he knew oh so well since he played all of 11 games with that team). With that being said, I also know he’s not for everyone, mostly because certain folks actually appreciate someone who will give a true analysis of the action. Rod is not the greatest at actually breaking down the game. Gibson and Morris will both give better analysis of the game, but might not be the entertainer that Allen is. We also know neither of those guys will be able to sell fertilizer like Rod can.
I find it curious as to why the Tigers are doing this. It doesn’t really add up to me and it very well could be a combination formed because they can’t find one person who wants to do it full time. Some feel it’s a way to push out Allen, but in the broadcasting world if you’re not happy with someone you just show them the door. You don’t slowly faze them out and hope they go away. I know Allen has been getting some more duties in recent years with the FOX Network and has been getting to broadcast a few more national games. More opportunities elsewhere may mean he needs to take a step back anyway. Bringing in Morris is also strange to me considering he’s still going to have duties as a commentator for the Twins. Perhaps they want Morris but he might be reluctant to completely give up the Twins job. It’s pretty hard to be a good commentator for two teams though. And bringing back Gibson is nice but he might not be ready to jump back in full board right now in his first season outside of the dugout. Overall, there are very few details as to why the Tigers are doing this, but if I had to give a best guess it’s because they have three guys who want to do it but perhaps don’t want to commit to the full time responsibilities.
On Tap for Tonight:
Pistons vs. San Antonio. 7:30
Red Wings @ Pittsburgh. 8:00