On November 17, 2018 at the IM Sports East (804 E Shaw Ln, East Lansing, MI 48825) some of the top teams in the country battled it out at the Spartan Invite, hosted by Michigan State University. There were several close matches and several teams that surprised. Let’s take a look at the results for the day.
MSU def MIAMI 3-1
CMU def UWP 4-1
CMU def WMU 5-0
GVSU def Kent 5-1
SVSU def OSU 6-1
MSU def Kent 5-2
OSU def WMU 2-1
SVSU def UWP 5-1
GVSU def MIAMI 4-1
UWP def WMU 4-1
MSU def OSU 4-2
GVSU def CMU 2-1
SVSU def KENT 3-2
MIAMI def CMU 4-3
My Thoughts- What a weekend it was, with so many action filled games. Saginaw did as expected and won out all three of their games. They are a more balanced team this year and have several individuals that can take over at any moment. Michigan State also won all three of their matches and did so in a dominating fashion. Maybe they should play at the IM East more often. Grand Valley took all W’s too, but I know the CMU game was just a little bit too close to for their liking. Central Michigan showed that even with key loses on their squad from last year, they can still hang with the best as can be seen with the GVSU game. Western Michigan showed that they were eager to play and had a good time playing the game. They impressed me at times in our match with how well they played. It will be fun to see them play again when they get a full squad to a tournament.
Miami showed that they can play with anyone and was able to take a big win against CMU while playing MSU and GVSU close. They are a team to watch come the rest of the season. Ohio State brought what seemed to be a young squad, but with good leadership was able to play tough against their opponents. Kent state had an okay tournament and from what I can tell if they become more disciplined their matches in the future will be more challenging and tougher. Platteville went in and did exactly what they wanted to do and that was to get their young squad the experience to better understand how to play the game. Their first year players are adjusting to the style of play and are getting more comfortable on the court. The captains are trusting in their abilities to play and look forward to seeing them in action again.
Casey Bielec (CMU)- Our favorite match of the day was GVSU by far. The result showed us that we have been making strides as a team, but we are still struggling with the consistency in our game which showed vs Miami. Our top performers of the day were Austin Brege, Casey Bielec, Eric Nelson, Doug Daniel, And Jawanza Edwards. We would have liked to see where we stood vs GVSU in OT, but we came up just a bit short. Our last team throw looked like it grazed the last player on GV, but no cigar. Listen to the last 15 seconds of the livestream and you decide.
Kenny Mize (SVSU)– Overall, the matches played out as I expected, with us going 3-0. I was pleasantly surprised with Ohio State, they did not bring the best roster but they played with a lot of heart for a young team. I see great things happening with them if they keep that up.
As far as the teams we did not play, I was more impressed with CMU. Who would have went into overtime against GVSU, if the call was made. You can look into the stream of their game and hear them admitting Aaron Krafft was indeed hit, in the closing seconds of their game. Very excited to see how the race to the MDC championship and National Championship play out.
Peter Broe (WMU)- We had fun and I’m glad everyone was cool with playing unofficial games against us. We look forward to more, real games in the future.
Brent Weakland (MSU)– Our key matches against Miami and Kent were our best performing games of the year. We finally found our feet as our youthful squad capitalized against very strong teams to gather some good wins for our record. Miami showed a ton of talent with their promising win against CMU but fell against GV. Kent showed lots of strength as usual but wasn’t able to get the wins. They finished off the day with a very well fought out match against SVSU that may have gone another way if they hadn’t already played against MSU and GVSU. OSU’s record at the tournament doesn’t quite show what I saw – they have a good amount of hidden talent but are missing a few individuals to complete what will be a very tough squad. CMU had the most interesting match of the tournament, they kept GVSU to a close match losing only 2-1 but nearly forcing an overtime with seconds left. Other than that they had a disappointing but very competitive loss against Miami (4-3). Overall, Michigan showed the Ohio region why they are regarded to as a power region because Michigan was 7-2 in head to head matches against Ohio teams.
Parker Morris (Kent)– Three losses is what others may see, but I saw improvement through out our day and throughout each game. We started slow against GV and made it close even though the score didn’t show. The other two games we just need to work on finishing games and keeping confidence when playing. We look forward to playing these three teams again.
Dylan Greer (OSU)– Saginaw came out hot in their first game of the day against us, truly looking like a top 4 team. Although their coordination was spot on for the majority of the match, their catching ability was what stood out the most. Anything we put within their range seemed dangerous since it always seemed like they had a chance to bring it in for a catch. Our team did our best to adapt to their playstyle, and slow down our own play, to result in one of our best catching games of the year. Also, have to point out that one of our players left the match with a broken hand, meaning Saginaw is responsible for 3 out of of 3 broken bones in our players over the past two years.
While this did not count as a regulation match, WMU still showcased some of the talent they will bring to the NCDA when they officially become a team. Peter Broe has done a good job with his guys so far and as time progresses they will definitely make some noise in the league.
At this point in the day we only had 9 players, but this match was still the most fun of the day for us. MSU’s throwing talent definitely stood out the most to our team, but it also gave our guys a little encouragement to improve their catching ability. Targeting their throwers early was what resulted in our 2 points in the match, but their overall talent outmatched that of our team. If we had a few more of our starters, that game may be a little bit closer than people would expect.
Austin Michael (Miami)- Miami started out the Spartan Invite with a very anticipated match against MSU. The final score being 3-1 was not indicative of how close the game was. After taking the first point of the match MSU fought back to take the next 3 points and close out the game in a 2-1 player advantage in the final point. Miami walks away from this game with a sour taste in their mouth after not being ready to play in this early morning match and that seems to be a theme for our team. Two of their three losses this season (the third being to GVSU) came in their first match of the day in the early morning. This team will need to shake off their early morning hangovers if they want to start winning these early morning matches moving forward.
In Miami’s second match of the day against GVSU, they came out looking a little star struck against the undisputed best team in the country. The first point was over so quick if you blinked, you might have missed it. Outside of that, Miami was fairly competitive with GV. Miami typically attempts to play a ball control type of strategy to win their games, but this did not match up well against GV’s transition style of play. If Miami wants to compete with this team in April, they will need to work on the transition style which is apparent in all 4 dominant Michigan teams (Sorry Peter Broe) especially GVSU.
After another extended break, Miami was able to close the day with a close match against CMU. Both teams appeared to be a little tired by this point in the day after playing very daunting schedules. CMU jumped out early to a 1-0 lead but Miami was able to take 2 additional points before halftime. After half, Miami was able grab a commanding 3-1 lead but this was only the start to a very back and forth game where each team traded points until the final score ended up being 4-3 in Miami’s favor. After a frustrating start to the day (and a little confusion in the play style), Miami was able to gain a much needed victory over a very talented CMU team. One positive takeaway from Miami in this game was their accuracy on team throws and their overall cohesion on the court. They will look to carry this momentum into their last tournament of the semester at Ball State in just 2 short weeks.
Mark Liedtke (UWP)– I thought this weekend went really well for us. We played well throughout the whole day but ultimately fell short with the less experienced roster. Again, we learned a lot as a team from facing the harder competition and will keeping fighting hard and improving as we make our way to nationals.
It was a fun filled weekend with a lot of interesting matches and we learned a lot about each of the teams. Some of these teams will be at the Ball State tournament next weekend and will get to see them in action again to finish off the first half of the NCDA season.