Michigan State hosts its annual Spartan Invite this Sunday in East Lansing, MI. Joining the Spartans are in-state rivals GVSU and CMU as well as BGSU, DePaul, and Kent State. Six rounds of games throughout the day will surely consist of some very competitive games of dodgeball. The games in the main gym will be filmed and commentated on by a journalism class at MSU. They hope to turn the film into an ESPN quality production. I know there will be plenty of quality dodgeball for them to record.
Kevin tackled a game by game preview in his article, while Jacob wrote on a team by team basis. So in this preview I’m going to take a closer look at some individual players for each team.
I’ll start with my own team. Most of the more well-known players for MSU have been mentioned either on the website or in the podcasts before. So instead I’m going to talk about some of the guys that don’t usually get mentioned when discussing Michigan State. We have several guys who look great in practice but have not always been able to bring that level of play to tournaments. But as of late, these guys are starting to play in tournaments like they show they can in practice. Last week at SVSU, Daniel Kobina Ofori-Dankwa made catch after catch. Matt Jones had a big game against Ohio State back in October to hold off the Buckeyes. Lucas Salinas has turned into a player that has found himself on overtime rosters. The play of these three and others have really improved the depth of MSU. Don’t be surprised if one of them or someone else without name recognition throughout the league makes some big plays on Sunday.
Many have talked about the strength of Alex Holzgen’s arm for CMU. But what has impressed me this season is his catching. He often goes for diving catches. He also made a great catch on me last week on a throw I made when he was throwing. Everyone knows CMU has tremendous catching, but what makes them so dangerous is that they catch all the way down their roster. I really thought about who else I wanted to highlight for CMU, but they are so deep top to bottom down the roster I don’t know what else to say about them at this point. Pick a random player and I’ll tell you that he can catch well. He probably can throw pretty well too. That’s CMU’s roster in a nutshell.
Depth has always been a strength of Grand Valley. This season their depth took a bit of a hit. But as the season has progressed, that depth has started to return to a strength for the Lakers. Players like Logan Rohloff, McCoy Wondergem, and Steven Snyder are starting to develop into real forces on the court. Similar to MSU, the development and improvement of the depth of the team has made GVSU another title contender this season. And of course their three captains are some of the best players in the league.
BGSU has really impressed me so far this year. I knew he was a great player before, but the ball seems to be really flying off of Tyrell Smith’s arm this season. He has the talent to go at anybody in the league. There is also a player for Bowling Green that has a really good sidearm/submarine throw. Its got good speed and usually stays pretty low to the ground. He threw at me once and it was one of those catches that stings the chest a little bit after.
As captain for Kent State, Mitchell Aldridge is one of their most important players. He has strong arm but at times tries to do a little too much. When he plays within himself he is one of the best players on the court. Kent needs him to play like that in order to have success on Sunday. The leadership for Kent is key as when Abert DePerro was on the court when I reffed them at the Kent State tourney in October, they were a much better team. His leadership and ability are vital to keep Kent in command of points.
As for DePaul, I have not yet seen them play this season. I have seen Niko enough to know he is a phenomenal player. He can do everything well on the dodgeball court. I look forward to see what DePaul looks like under his leadership.
MSU 4-0 – State protects home court and edges out close wins over the Michigan teams
CMU 3-1 – Two close games against GVSU and MSU, in which they go 1-1
GVSU 2-2 – The record won’t illustrate the quality performance they had
Kent 1-3 – Although they can’t pickup a win against the Michigan schools, they come close throughout and only pull at least one upset
BGSU 1-2 – Have moments where they look like they can compete with anyone, but the talent of the Michigan schools just proved too much
DePaul 0-3 – Even a great player like Niko can’t carry a whole team, but they stay true to who they are and remain undefeated