Jay Bilas on MSU and Izzo:
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo loves to say that players play, but tough players win. Well, coaches coach, but prepared coaches win, too. While so many coaches do a great job of preparing their teams, it is futile to try to suggest that one guy is the best. But it is impossible to refute that Izzo is one of the most prepared. If you watched the set plays and actions that Izzo ran against Texas’ zone and box-and-one defenses, you saw a well-drilled and well-organized Spartans team. Some may just have seen the final lob look to Marquise Gray on one of Izzo’s sets in the second half, but it was all set up by ball reversal, Drew Neitzel running off a baseline double screen and taking a defender with him, and the middle man being left to guard a flash and a slip. It was beautiful. Michigan State is the real thing this season. The Spartans can be beaten, but they have good talent, they score easier baskets and they defend the elbow and block well. Michigan State can beat anyone out there. And most of it is because of Izzo.
You can watch the video clip of the play Bilas is describing; scroll down to the second video screen in the ESPN.com weekly notebook.
Kalin Lucas is the Rivals.com freshman of the week.
Inside the Hall (an IU blog) is previewing all of the Big Ten basketball teams, from the bottom up. Here’s the Michigan preview.
Check out the College Basketball Chronotope. It’s an IU blog, but his Big Ten power poll of a week ago liked MSU as the #1 team in the conference (by a hair). His tempo-free player ratings judged our own Mr. Suton as the most effective player in the conference, as of two weeks ago.
Luke Winn of SI.com has an interesting piece up on the invention of the breakaway rim. The spring used in the rim was inspired by a similar spring in a John Deere cultivator.
One more Luke Winn link: Mr. Winn moves MSU up to #4 in his power rankings (vs. #7 in the current polls). He notes that MSU’s offensive rebounding prowess is particularly encouraging in light of the fact that both of MSU’s recent first-round NCAA tournament exits were in years when MSU’s offensive rebounding percentage was mediocre (2006: 33.5%, 2004: 30.5%). Future project: Determine whether good offensive rebounding makes a team less susceptible to being upset–the theory being that rebounding is less streaky than shooting is.