Michigan State basketball is using injuries to galvanize the team

Embed from Getty Images The Michigan State Spartans have been without Joshua Langford for a few weeks. That was the first blow for a Michigan State team that was struggling with consistency. Now without the services of Nick Ward Michigan State is being tested.

Tom Izzo, is a very good basketball coach. Tom Izzo is not a wizard. There is no magic wand that can be waived to make injuries go away. If that was the case coaches would line up for one.

The Spartans are learning to fight through their limitations. Losing two top players can be crippling to a team. “It’s going to bring our team closer together,”  Izzo said. “Whether we’ll have enough, I don’t know. We’ll find out, but I’m not counting us out.”

Depth is  critical to the overall health of any team. Even when the depth is a young player who has yet to see major game action. Still in their past two games Michigan State has fought through and won.

That is the good news. They have found players that have been pressed into action and have responded in a short period of time.  They have struggled at times but that is to be expected.

Now Tom Izzo and his Spartans will be tested. Sunday in Ann Arbor. Michigan State minus their two stars will face top ten Michigan. It will be a very tall order for Izzo’s bunch. Michigan is very good. Not to mention the game is on the Wolverines home court.

If there is one thing to remember it is this. Never count a Tom Izzo coached team out. No matter the odds, no matter who is playing and who is not. The Spartans will be ready for their in-state rival in a HUGE Big Ten showdown.

Michigan State is more than capable of  providing a convincing response to any and all questions fans and media have about the health and depth of their team. Do not count Sparty out. It could be a fatal mistake.

A recent poll at the Detroit Free Press has the Detroit Lions winning a title

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Free Press polled the four professional sports beat writers and asked which team would win the next championship for the city. The Detroit Lions were the winners.

As I read the pros and cons for each team winning a championship I looked at the state of all four teams. When I broken them down this is what I found.

The Detroit Pistons are a wreck. Stuck with bad contracts and a team that by and large has hit their ceiling. The team is years away from being a serious playoff threat let alone making it to the NBA Finals. The plan is to build around Blake Griffin. That is a start.

The Detroit Tigers are in mid rebuild. There is talent in the minor leagues. Serious talent. But most of the prospects are going to have to hit their ceiling and some are going to have to out play their projections. Still the Tigers are close to being competitive again. About 3 years.

The Detroit Red Wings are coming to the end of their rebuild. The Wings are set to win for a while. This is going to be a nasty hockey team. First they need to get into the playoffs and get their brains beat in. That is how it works in hockey. Young teams need to learn how to win the post season play. The Wings could make a playoff push next season. Even as bad as they have been. Young players have taken huge steps forwards and the Red Wings will have a league high $20 million in cap space.

Then we have the Detroit Lions. Rebuilding since 1957. Ask any Lions fan it is not a joke. It is how they view the team. For some strange reason the NFL is a league that sees teams turn around seemingly at the blink of an eye. L.A. Rams anyone? The Detroit Lions are actually a team that is 3-5 players away from becoming a very good team. Right tackle, edge rusher, tight end, wide receiver, backup running back and the Lions will be good.

So which team is in the best title position? The Tigers and Red Wings are set up for long term success. The Pistons need a direction. Leaving the Detroit Lions as the team that should bring the next championship to the city. I can not believe I just put that down.

Former Detroit Pistons great Ben Wallace up for the NBA Hall of Fame

Embed from Getty Images Big Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons legend and a player who’s number 3 hangs about he court since it was retired received a call from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Telling the big man he was a finalist.

Ben Wallace, a dominant defensive big man who played nine of his 16 NBA seasons with the Detroit Pistons. The prime years were spent in Motown. Wallace was a key player in the Detroit Pistons 2004 NBA championship.

Ben  was a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, four-time NBA All-Star.  He also led the league in rebounds twice and once for blocked shots. He played with the Pistons from 2000 to 2006 and again from 2009 to 2012 Ben Wallace retired at age 37.

Wallace, attended college at the small university of Virginia Union. He is now part owner of the Grand Rapids Drive. The Drive is the Detroit Pistons’ G League affiliate. So he is still around the game he loves. Wallace is often in Detroit and seen at Pistons games.

During his Detroit playing days as one of the elite defensive players in the NBA Ben Wallace’s teammates coined a slogan for their center. “Fear the Fro.” As Wallace played with a huge afro. The term simply meant at some point in the game Wallace would do something to swing momentum in the Pistons favor.

He would watch. He was would study teams players. Then he would shut them down. “Fear the Fro.” He was so dominant he once blocked Shaq and Kobe Bryant in the same game during back to back shots. Bring Pistons fans to their feet.

No matter that Ben went to a small college. He was a big time talent. One that the city of Detroit still loves. An artist painted a Ben in action. It hangs at Little Caesars Arena. Home to both the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons.

It is the only art of a Pistons player. That includes Pistons greats Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Vinnie Johnson and others. That is what Ben Wallace means to Detroit.

Casey Mize impresses during Spring training

Embed from Getty Images Eight months after being drafted number one overall in the 2018 MLB draft. Detroit Tigers rookie Casey Mize wowed during the opening of Spring training. The Tigers have found their future ace.

Casey Mize was a non-roster invite to the big league Tigers camp. He is expected to shoot through the minor leagues. This past Tuesday the Detroit Tigers saw up close just what Mize can do.

103 mph. That is what the speed gun read after Mize wound up an threw his first pitch. Tiger coaches and catchers were in awe. The Detroit Tigers have not had a rookie that did that since Justin Verlander.

Sure hitting 103 mph does not mean future success is sure to follow. However with Casey Mize it is a bit different. He threw strike after strike. at 21 years old in his first big league camp Casey was not phased.

He dipped into all of his pitches. Not only did he throw them all, fastball, curve, slider, changeup, split finger fastball. He had control over all of them. Pop after pop from the catcher’s mitt.

The legend of Casey Mize is already growing. “he is one of the first ones here in the morning and one of the last ones to leave.” Tigers pitching coach Rick Anderson said. Something you do not see in a lot of young players.

Casey Mize is slated to begin the season in Lakeland with the Flying Tigers. Weather will dictate when he moves to Erie P.A. and the Seawolves. In other words not very long.

Casey Mize is expected to arrive in Toledo with the Mud Hens this season. He has all the tools. Matt Manning also has all the tools. Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez have all the tools. Leading the media (in and outside Detroit) to call the four young Tigers pitches the “Fearsome Foursome.”

Right now it is all about Mize. How is destined for greatness. Along the lines of Detroit Tigers greats Hall of Famer Jack Morris and the aforementioned Justin Verlander.

The good news for the Detroit Tigers is there is no need to rush these fantastic prospects. The team is two years away from spending money again. So Detroit can let the pitchers and others develop and then bring them all up together.

The Detroit Tigers pitching prospects look an awful lot like the 1990’s Atlanta Braves pitching staff. That is very good news.

 

The Detroit Lions cut Glover Quin

  Embed from Getty Images There are times when a sports franchise is blessed with a good person. In 2013 the Detroit Lions signed free agent safety Glover Quin to a 5 year $23.5 million dollar contract. They signed more than a football player.

Having watched and follow the Detroit Lions since 1980, I can honestly say I have seen players come and players go. This one hurts almost as much as when the Lions let linebacker Chris Spielman go.

During his time in Detroit, Glover Quin never missed a start. In the rough and tough world of professional football that is extraordinary. 148 games played. He doubled games played by other safeties during the same time span.

Glover Quin was and will continue to be the benchmark for consistency.  On a personal note Glover is one of my all-time favorite Lions. I try not to attach personal feelings to a player. But man alive…….

By releasing Quin the Detroit Lions save $6.25 million in salary cap money. He always had a way with coaches and teammates and the Detroit media that made people both feel better and feel respected.

Much the way Spielman was the heart and soul of the late 1980’s though mid 1990’s Detroit defenses. That is what Quin has been for his time in.

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn released a statement:

“We thank Glover for his countless contributions to the Detroit Lions during his six seasons with our team. Since joining the organization in 2013, Glover exemplified everything it means to be a true professional in the league- as both a competitor on the field and a leading voice in the community. Coach (Matt) Patricia and I have the utmost respect for him as a man and as a player, we wish him nothing but the very best in the future.”

On the surface this looks like a cold cut. Quin’s play did drop off this past season. Glover also admitted he thought about retiring. Those I am sure were factors in the Lions decision.

Detroit Free Press Lions beat writer Carlos Monarrez, took it a step further. Saying the Detroit Lions need to put Glover Quin in the Lions Ring of Honor. I agree!

The Detroit Pistons need to cut ties with Langston Galloway

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Pistons recently sent guard Reggie Bullock to the L.A. Lakers for a second round draft pick and guard Svi Mykhailiuk. Former  Pistons Head Coach/President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy handed Langston Galloway a three year 21 million dollar deal.

For three seasons Langston Galloway has been a massive disappointment. That can not be understated. He wears flashy shoes, but that does nothing for Galloway’s game. This is year three and Langston Galloway has reached a career low 32 percent shooting. He has mastered the brick with authority.

His new career shooting low comes on the heels of last seasons at 34 percent shooting. Not a good look for someone who was handed a 21 million dollar deal to make shots. This is a small sample of why Van Gundy is no longer in Motown.

At 6’2″ Langston Galloway lacks the size to help out much defensively. Making him worthless. The Detroit Pistons, were not going to resign Langston after the season and should just cut bait with him now. He is a wasted roster space.

He is blocking Mykhailiuk a player who has a great shot from playing. Perhaps, Galloway’s greatest  defensive block since coming to Detroit. The other night against Boston, Galloway had a -14. Woeful!

Plus/ Minus in basketball is the average impact in terms of net point differential per 100 offensive and defensive possessions. It is hard to come to any reasonable conclusion why Pistons coach Dwane Casey left Galloway in the game.

While Svi MyKahailiun and Khyri Thomas two of the Detroit Pistons better shooters played exactly zero minutes. It is rather head scratching. The Detroit Pistons are eyeing the playoffs.

I will go on record now and say there will be no playoffs as long as Langston Galloway has more playing time than players who can actually help the team. Those players are on the bench. It has grown increasingly frustrating with the Pistons fan base who see this.

Dwane Casey needs to wake up and needs to do it before it is too late.

5 freshmen who could play this fall for Michigan State football

Embed from Getty Images Two areas of need for the Michigan State Spartans were offenive and defensive line. With a solid recruiting class, those units have seen an influx of talent. The Spartans have other areas of need as well. So who could help them from the 2019 class?

Michael Fletcher, a 6-foot-5, 240 pound defensive end. Michigan State needed a complement to go with Kenny Willekes, Fletcher fits the bill. Michael has size and speed to work his way onto the field and into the defesive line rotation early in Spring and Fall camp. He should see action for the Spartans in 2019.

Two wide receivers could vie for playing time as well. The Spartans were woeful at the wide-out position during the 2018-19 season. Tre’Von Morgan, at at 6-6, 215 has great size and is fast. He should develop into Michigan State’s deep threat.

Tre Mosley, is another receiver who should help the passing game. He is hands down the fastest of all the Spartans receivers. A team who is in desperate need of speed could see two freshmen boast production during 2019.

Running back Anthony Williams Jr., he is a powerful runner who possesses excellent hands out of the backfield. While he does not have break-away speed Williams is a solid back who should help move the chains and grind out the clock.

In my opinion Michigan State is trying to get back to what made them successful and tough. Being able to run the ball inside the tackles while having speedy receivers who can put pressure of defenses.

While not many it is a start for a Spartans team that needed a boost. I fully expect these players  to contribute to the team this Fall. Michigan State should enjoy the talent coming to East Lansing. Coach Mark Dantonio and his staff have gone back to basics.

Spartan nation is hoping it turns back the clock and ushers in more good football. Time will tell. But Michigan State seems to be headed in the right direction.

Detroit Lions mourn the death of Ron Hughes

Embed from Getty Images Ron Hughes began with the Detroit Lions  as a college scout in 1982.  Hughes then moved to player personnel. He would hold that job from 1984-2001. In 1990 Ron was in charge of the Lions scouting departments. The team benefited greatly.

Ron Hughes was directly responsible for bringing Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Johnnie Morton, Brett Perriman and Chris Spielman to Detroit. That is just to name a few players. He put the Lions in a position to win.

During the Ron Hughes era the Detroit  Lions   reached the playoffs eight times in his 19 seasons. That is not small feat. He was a big asset to the city of Detroit, the fans and the Detroit Lions team.

To simply overlook his death would be a shame. He understood player talent while also having a pulse on the roster. He added players and cut players who did not fit in.

Although he departed the Detroit Lions in 2001. The city and fans still remember him and the work he did. Sometimes, special people do not get overlooked. Fans remember they understand a team is only as good as the general manager who in turn is only as good as his scouts.

For Ron Hughes he did his job as well as anyone. Something not lost on the Detroit Lions who issued a statement upon hearing of his death. In the sports world there are many people who do not get the credit they should. Ron Hughes was one of them. Not any more.

In order to prolong his career the Detroit Tigers should move Miguel Cabrera to full time D.H.

Embed from Getty Images It happens to the best of them. Age catches up with all of us. That is the case with Detroit Tigers first basemen Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera, already a first ballot Hall of Fame caliber player who has made life rough for MLB pitchers.

A groin tear, two herniated disks in his back in 2017, a cracked foot  in 2014 and a ruptured bicep last season is proof that father time has caught the elite slugger. For his sake he needs to put his glove away.

Cabrera, has played around 2,265 games in his 16 year career. In order for the rebuilding Tigers to keep his batting average, R.B.I.’s and home runs in the lineup The move to full time designated hitter should be made this season.

Word is general manager Al Avila, and Tiger manager Ron  Gardenhire have approached Miguel about spending “more time at D.H.” For a player who prides himself on his defense. He gets a rather large paycheck for his offense.

For the first time in his career  Miguel Cabrera is open to the switch. Perhaps a silent acknowledgment that time has caught up. Perhaps, he understands his value is with a bat in his hands. Showing the young Tiger players how to go about at bats.

One problem is it would leave a HUGE hole at 1B. Unless the Tigers place John Hicks or move Jeimer Candelario from 3B to 1B. One other option would be to see if Nick Castellanos could field the position. Castellanos is playing on a one year deal and is the focus of trade rumors.

It is never easy, never fun to watch a star enter the twilight of their playing days. But if there is a way to ease a player into it those steps should be taken. Cabrera can still help the team. That needs to be the focus.

Detroit Pistons make solid moves for the future while still eyeing the playoffs

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Pistons executive Ed Stefanski was brought in to Detroit for two reasons. To help the team get out of bad contracts handed out by Stan Van Gundy and help groom a new general manager.

The 2019 NBA trade deadline has come and gone. The Detroit Pistons made  few moves to help their cause. The team traded guards Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson freeing up salary cap money.

In each case the Pistons received both players (Svi Mykhailiuk and Thon Maker) as well as draft picks. Stefanski, did a very solid job as he began a lengthy process of re-shaping the Detroit Pistons roster.

The team then released Henry Ellenson and added Wayne Ellington from the Miami Heat. The Heat are going nowhere. While the Detroit Pistons have won three in a row to climb within one game of .500 as well as back into the playoff picture.

Ellington fits what Detroit is trying to do this season. Get into the post season. Ellington is a 10 year NBA veteran. At 31 years old still has a lot left in the tank and a lot to give a playoff hopeful team.

He is averaging 8.4 points per-game as well as 1.9 rebounds and is shooting 37% on 3-pointers in his 25 games with the Miami Heat. It is his veteran leadership that Ed Stefanski and the Pistons covet.

The signing of Ellington is a smart move for a Pistons team in need of leadership from anyone not named Blake Griffin. Griffin simply can not do it all. The deal also makes sense as Ellington is playing on an expiring contract.

Detroit will most likely let him walk after the season while cashing in on the draft pick and get younger, more athletic and further un the salary cap.

The Pistons may look to make other deals after the season. This will allow them to do what Stefanski and owner Tom Gore said they were looking to do. Build around Griffin.

It will take some time. But it is a start. While no one knows what Stefanski’s vision is for the future. It is easy to see that it is not bad contracts with players with a low ceiling and limited ability. To move on from Stan Van Gundy.