Michigan State's 83-58 win over Purdue in Big Ten action should be appreciated with a pair of caveats, although neither involves the Spartans players, who gave an excellent effort.
The first caveat is that the Purdue squad had to travel by bus to the Breslin Center starting at 4:45 a.m. on game day, due to airline troubles the day before. A successful flight would have allowed the Boilermakers proper hotel overnight sleep time. This was an obvious trepidation for the Purdue team, but let's give credit to Coach Matt Painter, who told reporters, "I think that's an excuse in my opinion." Well, Coach Painter, as an MSU fan, I will say, maybe it's not an excuse for YOU, but as an MSU fan is sort of diminishes our victory.
Spartie Coach Tom Izzo, showing his class, acknowledged, "I feel good about the win, but I also want to give respect to a team that went through some tough things." Of course, Izzo is fully aware that his team will have to visit Purdue, hopefully without similar travel troubles, later in February.
Indeed, this was a great MSU effort, coming off narrow defeats to Northwestern, and, far more frustratingly, to the University of Michigan. And now the Spartans are tied atop the Big Ten (Big 12?), with a 5-2 league record, a balanced conference in which all of the dozen teams either have at least two victories or two defats. The Spartans shot 60 percent, compared to 29 percent for Purdue, which tried too many three-pointers, hitting only 3 0f 20, compared to MSU's effecient 7 of 13. Guards Keith Appling, Brandon Wood, Branden Dawson and Austin Thornton combined for 16 of 23 shooting.
And senior team leader Draymond Green keeps making Michigan State fans love him for his team play; Dae Dae scored a modest 8 points on a scant 6 shots, while grabbing 12 rebounds and passing for 7 dimes. Draymond will go down in hitory as a great college player; I just hope his not-so-athletic skills (he's not Dr. J; just watch) can somehow be adapted to the pros.
This brings me to the second caveat, although having nothing to do with the players, which explains why MSU should not overly celebrate. There are reports that a punk in the MSU Izzone student section shouted as Purdue forward Robbie Hummel, "I hope you tear your ACL again."
Hummel had missed the entire previous season with a tornup knee. As anyone who is such an ACL victim will tell you, it takes excruciating rehab to come back. Hopefully, this MSU a-hole student isn't back in his dorm room, taking credit for his venom causing Hummel to miss all 11 of his shots. Coach Painter of Purdue said he screamed back as the idiot because, "We got guys in our student section that probably say things that are out of line, but I'm just not taking that. Somebody has to fight for (Robbie Hummel)." Coach Izzo said he would have gladly tossed the jerkwater student cleanly out of Breslin into the ice and snow.
I suppose this incident isn't as bad as when Arizona State students chanted toward Steve Kerr, then at the University of Arizona, "PLO, PLO," after Steve Kerr's dad, diplomat Malcolm Kerr, was assassinated by Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorists back during the 1990s. But Izzo is right on target when he vows to get to the bottom of it.
As for Izzo's players on the floor, they should be nothing but proud of themselves. They are representing the school proudly, and they are unselfishly team players. No individual took more than 8 shots during the victory over Purdue. That won't always happen, but still, it tells us something about their collective character.