MSU used a triple double from Denzel Valentine (his second in nine days) to fuel an easy 31 point victory over Boston College in the quarterfinal of the Wooden Classic in Fullerton, California. An abbreviated recap follows below.
1. Denzel – He’s now a superstar at this level. That’s not too strong a word for what we’ve been seeing, IMO. His vision and his competitiveness is what’s standing out above everything else right now to me. The last assist took awhile to come but up until that point, everything else really seemed to just flow naturally. He showed it all off tonight…coast to coast takes after a rebound, post up fadeaways, deep threes, half hooks in the lane, the lot.
2. Shooting – MSU has been ridiculously good so far and tonight the beat went on. 62.7% overall and 52.4% from three and the funny thing is neither number seems out of whack with what we’ve seen from this team so far. 28 assists on 37 made field goals is actually a little bit low in the ball movement department but still, it’s the way this team plays unselfishly which is leading to the overall offensive success.
3. Boards – 18 board edge overall and 6 on the offensive boards tells another familiar story this season.
4. Tum – Great to see him bust out offensively. He was 5-9 from the floor, including a pair of threes, and looked confident taking and making open jumpers. He also showed off his incredible speed in the open court on a couple of occasions early, a weapon MSU needs to make a part of its overall attack as well.
5. Tom Izzo – 500 wins. What else can you say about a guy who is starting to build a case as the best coach in his sport in the history of the Big Ten.
THE BAD AND THE UGLY
1. Defensive focus – BC shot 47% from the floor, so you can’t consider that a success in any way. I thought MSU was a little looser than we’ve seen at any point this season, with enough blown sequences to give Izzo all the talking points he wants.
MSU moves onto the semis tomorrow afternoon to face Boise State, a victor today over Cal Irvine. THe Broncos are the defending regular season champs in the Mountain West and have reached the point where you have to consider them a solid, NCAA TOurnament level program. They have the experience and shooting to test MSU if the Spartans don’t bring better defensive focus.