Heading into Maui for the Maui Invitational has always been a great building block for the Spartans in years past as MSU is 13-7 lifetime when coming down to Hawaii for the early season festivities. It was a great opportunity for some of Michigan State’s bench players to see some floor time and gain some experience and build confidence for the season. This time around in Maui the Spartans did not breeze right through the competition and dominate like their number 2 billing would indicate. First suffering a scare against a division 2 school Chaminade, the Spartans were dealt a rude awakening by a team playing with a serious chip on their shoulder and shell shocking MSU early by taking a 33-25 lead. Chaminade’s 5’6 guard, Steven Bennett set the tempo for the small school by cutting fearlessly to the lane time after time , and scoring 20 points and playing nearly every minute. The strong, fearless play of the Chaminade point guard caused The Spartans to have to readjust themselves, and start taking the game more seriously but in the second half they eventually started to pull away. Thanks to a surge of three pointers from Korie Lucious the Spartans were able to avenge the upset hopefuls from Chaminade going on a 20-3 run to put the scary Silverswords’ hope to rest.
However after putting together a more complete game in the second half and avoiding an embarrassing loss at the hands of Chaminade, the Spartans weren’t able to hold of Uconn the following night. The Spartans were surprisingly well matched by unranked Uconn, and had no answer for Kemba Walker who has arguably been the best player in the country so far this year. Walker, a senior, finished with a game high 30 points and hit the key game winning shot with 52 seconds left giving UCONN the edge 70-67. It was a back and forth tilt, with defensive intensity being the overall theme on the night, as both teams were tied a total of nine times . The turning point in the game came in the dying seconds when Kalin Lucas turned the ball over when the Spartans were down by two, throwing an errant pass out of bounds with no Spartan in sight to receive the pass. UCONN went on to play number 9 ranked Kentucky in the final and ended up crushing the Wildcats 84-67 improving their record to 5-0 on the year. Following the loss to Uconn , MSU rebounded against number 11 ranked Washington and finished third in the Maui invitational and has some confidence to build on when they play Tennessee Tech and Duke over the next week.
MSU has a lot to take away from the Tournament and got well-rounded performances from Kalin Lucas, Draymond Green, Korie Lucious and Durrell Summers. Right now Michigan State is shooting .529 % from the field so far this season while holding their opponents to .329 % and five different Spartans are shooting at least 50% from three point range. This list includes Keith Appling (.750), Austin Thornton (.600), Draymond Green (.571),Durrell Summers(.500), Korie Lucious(.500). All of these guys are lethal when left unguarded and pose a serious threat for opposing defenses when matching up against the Spartans depth. The questions concerning Kalin Lucas’s ankle have been put to rest at least for now, with his solid play in the early going averaging 18 ppg and shooting 49.2% from the field. Probably the biggest contributor for the Spartans has been Draymond Green, who continues to fill the stat sheet every night. He’s averaging 13.3 ppg, 10 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 3.3 steals per game. Major efforts from Green and Lucas during the Maui Invitational are going to have to continue for the Spartans going forward as the road only gets tougher having to play # 1 Duke December first then playing at number 10 Syracuse a week later. Overall the Maui Invitational was a great tune up for the 2010-2011 season and has given me a good taste of what to expect from the Spartans the rest of the way.
About the Author
Written by Colin Teskey
I Started watching sports at the ripe age of 4 when Michael Jordan was leading the Chicago Bulls to their second three-peat and sixth NBA title. It was through Jordan’s play that inspired me to become an avid sports fan and that you can accomplish anything through hard work. Sports are remarkable in how they can capture your everyday life by leaving you speechless after some spectacular play, leave you depressed after your home team loses, and lift and entire city to its feet( New Orleans Saints).My favorite Sports Teams go as followed for Basebal,l I am a die hard Blue Jays Fan. Gotta rep Canada on this one as the Toronto Blue Jays are the only Canadian team left now that the Expos packed up and left. Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, and Doc Halladay are my all time favorite Jays. For Football, I've pledged my allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles. I became a fan when the Mcnabb and T.O show were in town and both helped lead the Eagles all the way to the Superbowl in 2004. My next two favourite teams are my top two and the ones I follow the closest. As I alluded to earlier Michael Jordan was who I grew up watching so I naturally became a Bulls Fan. The Bulls of the nineties were by far the best team ever assembled and I challenge anybody who argues that. Micheal Jordan deserves a lot of credit but he wouldn't have been nearly the player he was without Pippen, Rodman, and many more great teamates. I can't even see the current Miami Heat roster breaking the 95-95 teams record of going 72-10 which may never be broken.My all time Favorite team are the Ottawa Senators. I bleed red and gold and will always be a Sens fan no matter how bad they are. Growing up in Ottawa, I've seen the team go from an expansion team nightmare to one of the premier organizations in the game. They have fallen on hard times recently but my favorite moment as a Sens fan came in the 2007 playoff when Alfie scored on Ryan Miller to send Ottawa to the Cup! When Ottawa went to the Cup the city went in to a frenzy and is something I'll never forget. The current rebuild in Ottawa will take It's toll on the fans, however I know we will be celebrating another cup run in the future.