The term “obsessed” is defined in Webster’s dictionary as simply, “[T]o have the mind excessively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic.” But is that really the whole definition? No matter how many times I read over this definition, I can’t help but think of one glaring omission: a photo of a screaming, face-painted, insane yahoo student at any collegiate sporting event across the country.
[motion]As MSU students, and more importantly, as rabid fans of the sports teams on campus, we are all susceptible to the obsessive behavior that comes with the territory. Consider the day-breaking tailgates on football Saturdays that leave us either exhausted and let down, exhausted and overjoyed, or exhausted and sunburned; those overnight “Izzone” campouts that beg the question, do college students ever actually go to class; the feeling that something absolutely tremendous could possibly be in the works every time coach Joanne McCallie and the women’s basketball team take the floor at the Breslin Center.
[q1] Yes, we sports junkies certainly share a lot of precious moments. We celebrate, we cry, we let out blood-curdling screams when we don’t even know why we are yelling. But perhaps more important than all that, the most exciting, essential and extraordinary trait we share is our God-given ability to predict the future.
All right, maybe that’s not entirely true (especially if you read my story in October when my mere notion that the football team was finally on the right course for a title inexplicably seemed to bring on a complete and total debacle). Nevertheless, we all see ourselves as experts and gurus. So, try to find it in your heart to humor me as I unveil my MSU winter sports predictions for the upcoming semester.
Let me go ahead and apologize to any team I jinx with my predictions right here and now. Keep in mind I will be knocking on wood throughout this entire process.
So without further adieu, here are The Big Green Sports Guy’s humorous, yet serious, sports predictions for the winter semester.
Wrestling:
After a solid season last year and a promising start this year, the MSU wrestling squad seems to be well on their way to a strong finish. Led by junior brothers and All-Americans Andy and Nick Simmons, the Spartan grapplers already have a national ranking and will no doubt push the envelope for the remainder of the season. But how exactly will their season conclude? Well, I see it going something like this.
The Spartans will follow the Simmons family connection for the remainder of the year and prove themselves serious contenders all the way to the Big Ten Championship in Indiana in early March. During the tournament, MSU senior and University of Michigan transfer R.J. Boudro will single-handedly pull a Hulk Hogan and eliminate each and every U of M wrestler with extreme quickness and precision. Behind this superhuman performance, the Spartans will capture the Big Ten tournament team championship and celebrate to Hogan’s theme song, “Real American.”
Men’s Ice Hockey:
Following an uncharacteristically up-and-down season last year, the MSU Ice Hockey team will certainly be looking to use that experience to level out the peaks and valleys this coming campaign. But the team is extremely young this season and is continuing to have a back-and-forth year. However, they won’t have to look far for guidance as junior captain Drew Miller, who hails from East Lansing, will most assuredly have an All-CCHA-type season and sophomore forward Bryan Lerg seems to be well on his way to taking over the Spartan hockey torch.
My prediction for the Spartan icers will be an above-.500 finish and a strong showing at the CCHA tournament. Maybe not the best of fortunes, but look on the bright side: with all these underclassmen getting so much experience, next season should be an enormous success.
My vision of the year\’s highlight will come on the final day of the regular season, when the Spartans take on Lake Superior State University at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. In front of the ghosts of “Hockeytown,” the Spartans will battle the Lakers in a match of epic proportions. During the closing seconds of the third period, sophomore sensation Lerg will receive a penalty shot after being unceremoniously dragged down a la Gordon Bombay/Charlie Conway of the Mighty Ducks thrill-ogy. Lerg will summon the power of Bombay’s vaunted \”triple deke\” maneuver to beat the Laker goalie glove side for the season-ending victory.
Women’s Basketball:
What else can be said that hasn’t already been mentioned about the MSU women’s basketball squad? After having a record setting year and phenomenal run in the NCAA tournament last spring, some might say it would be borderline impossible for the team to exceed what was accomplished last season. However, anyone making that claim must not have watched the national title game last April where the Spartans were defeated. Which means there is still one more mountain to climb for Coach P and company. And judging by their solid showing at this point in the 2005-2006 season, the women occupants of the Breslin Center may very well have their hiking gear ready for that final ascent.
But what exactly does the proverbial Big Green crystal ball have in store for the Spartan women? [huddle2] Well, I see a bit of sorrow leading to an eventual triumph. The Spartans will not repeat as the Big Ten champions, instead losing out by one game to rival Ohio State. However, this will be a motivational factor for the Spartans as they sprint into the tournament instead of limping. They will demolish everyone in their path on their way to a second straight final four where in the national semi-final game they will dismantle national superpower Tennessee and women’s basketball superhero Candice Parker. But what about the national championship game you ask? Well, here is how I would like to see it played out. [q2]
The Spartans will battle arch-nemesis Ohio State in the national final and it will be a battle for the ages. Back and forth, up and down, inside and out. After gritty senior point guard Lindsay Bowen draws a charge with five seconds remaining, the Spartans will take a timeout and inbound the ball at half court. After eating some magic spinach passed to her by an unusually muscular sailor and his needle-thin girlfriend, senior sensation Liz Shimek will take the inbound pass and fly to the basket finishing off the game and the national championship with a Jordan-esque reverse windmill dunk. Coach P will then have a bronzed statue of herself placed next to that other guy from the \’70s in front of the Breslin.
Men’s Basketball:
Last, but certainly not least, we come to Tom Izzo and the legendary men’s basketball team. After finishing last season with a somewhat unexpected run in the Final Four, the Spartans of 2005-2006 certainly will not be sneaking up on anyone this time around. Gone are the heart and soul players from last season in seniors Kelvin Torbert, Alan Anderson, Tim Bograkos and Chris Hill. As most experts would be quick to add however, a team with the talent caliber of Spartans does not re-build, it re-loads. [man2]
Back for another go around are team leaders and seniors Paul Davis and Maurice Ager. Add in junior human highlight reel Shannon Brown, and the Spartans look primed for another late season run this coming March.
While this season has had its share of ups and downs to this point, with a disappointing loss to unheralded Hawaii and solid wins over perennial powers Arizona and Indiana, MSU will undoubtedly have something to say about the national tournament picture.
Predicting a finish and outcome for an MSU men’s basketball team can be about as tough as one of those $1.95 steaks you find at Country Market and can’t help but consider purchasing. The team has had so many tremendous moments over the last decade or so but conversely, they have suffered just as many letdowns and disappointments.
The Spartans will find themselves in the “Sweet 16” this coming March where once again every MSU fan will have one of those “why-are-they-doing-this-to-me-don’t-they-know-my-heart-has-already-been-
torn-out-from-football-season” moments.
Down 15 points with three and a half minutes remaining to last year’s national champion, the North Carolina Tar Heels, senior superstar Maurice Ager will grab out his superman cape from under the Gatorade cooler and once again show us why he is one of the most talented wingmen in the country. After a furious rush by Ager down the stretch, with 13 straight points, including several “that just isn’t fair” type dunks, the Spartans will inbound the ball down two with one and a half seconds remaining. Sophomore guard Drew Neitzel will look to inbound to the hot hand in Ager but realizes he is tightly covered and has no chance for a pass. He will then look to Shannon Brown, also covered. The only other two options left are the two massive post players in Drew Naymick and Paul Davis. Not knowing where to go with the ball, Neitzel will then decide to use an ancient but certain method for success. Using the “eeni-meenie-minie-mo” technique with his eyes closed, Neitzel fires a blind strike right to the hands of a shocked Naymick. Shocked and stunned, Naymick does the only thing that comes natural to him. He launches a 35-foot sky-hook that seems to travel about as fast through the air as the time it takes to sit through a two hour economics lecture. The shot then hits the front of the rim and does the random bounce around the backboard and iron as seen in such movie classics like Teen Wolf and Air Bud before falling in to secure a Spartan victory. Naymick is crowned king of East Lansing for a week but the joy is short-lived as the Spartans fall the following week just one win away from a second straight Final Four appearance.
So there you have it in a nutshell. Prepare yourself for another rollercoaster winter sports season here at MSU. You will see wins and you will see losses. You will see miracles and you will see disasters. And maybe if you get lucky, and if the crystal ball is correct, you will even get to see some things never to be forgotten.
Oh and if by chance this column jinxes any of the aforementioned teams, I will give anyone a free pass to club me with that piece of wood I have been knocking on.

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