Michigan State has been notorious the last few years for its ability to dominate on the boards. Even in the loss to Michigan yesterday, the Spartans outrebounded their opposition 38-28.
The disparity on the offensive glass was the most noticeable, as Michigan State ripped down 15 offensive boards and limited Michigan to just six.
The Spartans are able to get these rebounds because they send their players to the baords in an almost reckless fashion.
“They crash a lot of guys to the glass,” freshman center Graham Brown said. “That’s pretty much their whole game, to crash a lot guys.”
Michigan State’s aggressive rebounding style did pay off in the game. The Spartans scored 10 of their 58 points off of second-chance opportunities.
Michigan State’s Aloysius Anagonye led the effort with nine rebounds, including five off the offensive glass.
The Spartans did not totally dominate in the post, though. The Wolverines scored 20 points – just two fewer than Michigan State – in the paint.
Michigan started the game off by pounding the ball down low to Graham Brown.
The freshman center powered his way to the basket in three of the first five plays of the game. The Wolverines began to assert their inside game in the hopes of freeing up their shooters.
“We just tried to get it down low early in the game to get our outside shots open later in the game,” Brown said. “That helped us out. We got a couple of easy baskets down low that they had to help down on. That helps us open things up on the outside which is great for us.”
Charity stripe: While rebounding has been one of Michigan State’s strengths, getting to the free throw line and then converting has been one of the Wolverines’ greatest assets during the current winning streak.
Senior LaVell Blanchard hit two free throws at the end of the game to clench the win. But throughout the game, free throws proved to be important.
“Our coach said it might come down to the wire, and as you can see it did,” freshman Lester Abram said. “Each free throw was critical. When you go to the free throw line you have to concentrate and make it. Luckily we did that.”
The Wolverines used their quickness to drive to the basket and draw fouls on the defenders.
The Spartans hit just five free throws in the game, compared to Michigan’s 19.
“That is what wins games is hitting the free throws down the stretch,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.
All-around Robinson: For the second straight game, Bernard Robinson led the Wolverines in rebounding. The junior forward pulled down seven boards in the game.
“I just try to maintain my aggressiveness on both ends of the court,” Robinson said. “That includes rebounds, going after loose balls, trying to get steals and staying in passing lanes.”
As one of the team’s top perimeter defenders, Robinson has adopted the role of defensive stopper.
“One great thing about defense is if you make the other team think, it gives everybody else on your side time to react. If you can make the offense think, that gives us time to rotate.”