Missouri exhibition helps raise $100,000 for Joplin

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Missouri beat Missouri Southern 106-60 on Sunday night, but the final score wasn’t what mattered.

The $100,000 did.

That’s what the game, dubbed the One State, One Spirit Classic, raised for Joplin, MO, the town where Missouri Southern is located. Its also the town that was absolutely devastated by an F5 tornado on May 22nd, a storm that killed 116 people and completely wiped sections of Joplin off the map. Missouri Southern is not a bad basketball team — they are ranked in the top five in Division II and have a couple of players that looked like they could get minutes for the Tigers — but this game wasn’t played for the competition, as Dana O’Neil explains:

Each person in the sellout crowd represented a donation, as did the T-shirts sold at the concessions and the commemorative chairs auctioned during the game. More than money, though, Missouri brought a welcome distraction for a community that is still clearing debris and rebuilding five months later. When Haith dreamed up this game, he did it with the attention of redirecting attention back to Joplin once the news trucks left and the next big story came along.

And that’s precisely what this game did, even briefly. The news cycle keeps on spinning, so while all the attention was on Joplin when the storm struck, eventually the stories get repetitive and news breaks elsewhere. People move on and forget, and that’s something that Frank Haith didn’t to let happen.

He gets the credit for this game, by the way. It was his idea to play this game and his effort to get it cleared by the NCAA.

So with that in mind, we will link you to two must-read stories on the disaster — Dana O’Neil’s and Luke Dittrich’s.

In terms of actual basketball, Phil Pressey and Mike Dixon both played well in the back court, but Missouri’s Achilles’ heel was abundantly clear. Without Laurence Bowers, they are small. Kim English played a lot of four last night, and while he held his own, only time will tell if the same will be true in the meat of the Big 12 schedule. The potential is there for this team to be successful, but its going to depend on how well they are able to make up for that lack of size inside.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.