Today came too early…somebody should really tell the fine people at Michigan State that East Lansing is a HIKE from the Detroit Airport. But I dutifully boarded my 6 am bus to Spartan territory, consumed a delicious East Lansing version of eggs benedict at the State Room and wound my way through Michigan State’s gorgeous, snow covered campus.
Well, at least I tried. Turns out, most of the country is experiencing winter still, like 16 degrees Fahrenheit winter. Needless to say, my California weather attire did nothing to ward off the biting wind.
So I headed for refuge in the Breslin Center.
Walking into a gym before covering a game always sparks a certain feeling of excitement deep inside me – creates a nervous energy that pushes me past the media room, past the food and drink and chatter and out onto the court where the teams are warming up.
(To be fair, the media room and subsequent hospitality was top notch – I mean they served us pasta and vegetables for goodness sake. Hats off to the fine people in the Michigan State athletic department.)
College basketball warm ups are my absolute favorite thing – it’s where you get to see kids being kids, throwing up alley-oops, throwing down dunks and dancing like no one is watching. It’s where you can tell who is loose, who is feeling it and what a team looks like it in its most basic state.
— Emily Van Buskirk (@Emilnem) February 14, 2016
Michigan State had the playlist on point, base thumping, causing me to bob my head and mouth the words as I updated Twitter and cross-referenced game notes from my court side vantage point.
Basically, there is no other place I would have rather celebrated Valentine’s Day this year than with Denzel Valentine himself. And the crowd clearly felt the same way. The Spartan’s marketing team left valentines for everyone in the stands (adorable) and the Izzone stayed loud an involved from start to finish. Sad to say but it was quite the culture shock, coming from other teams I have covered and other arenas I have visited.
Despite the close half time score, it is my firm belief that Indiana never stood a chance. Miscues kept them from gaining any true edge over Sparty and the 88-69 final score showcases exactly how dangerous Valentine is at home – he finished with 30 points, 13 assists and five rebounds and left a trail of broken ankles and hearts in his wake. Matt Costello was also lit, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Michigan State shot 57.6 percent from the field while the Hoosiers only shot 37.7 percent.
Tragically, I had to leave Bres before the game ended, to catch a flight out of this frightful weather and onto my next game in the historic town of Lawrence where an awesome Big 12 matchup awaits me.
See you on the other side.