"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, March 08, 2007

MSG Report: MU over SJU

It was great to see MU back in MSG last night -- and even better to watch the Golden Eagles claim their first conference tournament win since 2002. The seats in section 44 rocked (even if I should not have been sitting there) A few thoughts on the game:

  • This was a road game, no doubt about it. The MSG crowd badly wanted to erupt and rock the house for the Johnnies, and on a couple of occassions they nearly did. When SJU went on a 10-0 run midway through the second half to cut the MU lead to 49-47 the crowd was fairly electric, albeit modest in terms of raw numbers.
  • MU fans represented nicely. MSG is a tough arena for teams that lack a large local alumni base....the Big East spreads fans out in small groups around the arena, so its difficult to establish a raucous atmosphere for MU and others with similar distance issues. Syracuse, UConn and SJU don't have to deal with that. MU certainly traveled better this year than last. A nice job by the alumni office and the Blue & Gold Fund teams.
The biggest sequences in the game were three IMHO
  • Strong finish to the first half: When SJU cut MU's lead to just two late in the first half, 30-28, the house was rockin. MU finished the half on a 5-0 run, capped by a brilliant drive/dish from James to Hayward. MU led by seven at the break -- and scored the first basket of the second half.
  • Fitz is tits: When SJU whittled a 12-point lead down to just two points with twelve minutes to play, Dan Fitzgerald sacked up and nailed a clutch three. The game nearly turned right there -- against MU. Huge shot.
  • Matthews on the glass: With 43 seconds to play and MU up 66-62, David Cubillan missed two free throws. Wesley Matthews' rebound on the missed freebie was clutch...he was promptly fouled and made both free throws.
More thoughts on the game
  • I wish MU had a player like Anthony Mason, Jr. He's long and athletic on the wing -- the kind of player MU just does not have in the program. He gave Matthews fits all night. I give TC a ton of credit for moving David Cubillan onto Mason midway through the second half (after Mason cut the MU lead to just two). Cuby helped take Mason out of rhythm despite the height disadvantage. Great move by Crean.
  • Mike Kinsella. What a fantastic way for a senior to close his career -- he was a spark for MU, no question about it. Hopefully Mike gets the chance to channel Novak for a few more weeks.
  • The refs. Sitting with Chicos Bail Bonds, we both admitted that MU got just about every call from the zebras last night. Several gifts. Who cares, MU deserved them.
  • Eugene Lawrence is an incredible on-the-ball defender. MU ran several clear-outs for DJ, but he was unable to get by Lawrence off the dribble. 'Gino' is an under-rated player.
  • Maurice Acker: No, he was not at the game last night but they could have used him. MU only has two players on the roster who can consistently dribble penetrate. With Jerel out, defenses can more easily keep James out of the lane which limits MU's offense substantially.
  • Key defensive stops: MU outscoured SJU 11-7 during the last three minutes of the game. There was a key stretch from the 2:58 mark to the 0:54 mark in the game -- MU held St John's scoreless during those critical two+ minutes...a stretch where MU only managed one point. IMHO that's a good sign for this team -- even when the offense is sluggish, they brought their 'A' game on the defensive end and it paid off.
  • MU's glossy shoes look good.
  • DePaul -- I mean they can't suck enough. If DPU traveled a dozen fans I'd be surprised....it was downright embarrassing for them. The university only sent five members of the dance team and an abriged collection of cheerleaders. Clearly they expected to be one and done.
  • Lazar Hayward's 'J' looks much better now than it did earlier in the season. Inside, he's always around the ball. Nice player.
  • Dwight Burke is a huge 'effort player'. He was all over the place last night.
  • Fitz Fitz Fitz Fitz Fitz. Is it just me or does he hit clutch threes with regularlity? His fan club rocks btw.
  • It was great to see Chicos, Smitty, Smitty and hordes of other MU alums last night.
more to come......


Kevin Buckley said...

Great report.

Mo Acker .. man, could we use him right now. I know he has to sit out but .. can't we just say it's close enough to a year and suit him up?

Hey, wait a minute, the last time Mo played was March 6, 2006. That's a year and two days, baby!

Suit him up!

Anonymous said...

I am so pleased that Dan Fitzgerald DID something in the first time in four games.

He rebounded, shot well, and play nice defense. It made me smile as many of us had come to know him as fitzterrible in the recent weeks.

I am upgrading him to Fitzolid for now....


Lets rock MSG this weekend in the semis and finals

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report.

My comment: we got all the questionable calls...with Tim Higgins on the floor??????????????

Anonymous said...

Great report.

I LOVED those shoes.

Any photos?

Anonymous said...

how has dominic james' 3pt shooting NOT been addressed (either this game or prior games) - the guy was 0/9 last night, which about par for the course. we cannot have him pretending to be the next great perimeter shooter for MU - he could have dished half his attempts off to fitz or even kinsella - that would have given MU an extra 6pts maybe

Anonymous said...

Mo Acker FYI was on the bench last night in steet clothes.