may lift Spartans
Alan Anderson always looks forward
to Michigan State University's trips to Minnesota.
It's going home, a chance to play in front of the many family members
and friends who have watched him play all his life."I've gotten tickets
from almost everybody on the team," Anderson said as the Spartans
prepared for a "must win" road game set January 28. "They'll
be about 30 in the stands."
All of them would be rooting for the
6-6 220-pound junior point guard. They'd be among the few cheering though,
as the Minneapolis native has drawn a scattering of boos on previous trips
from a crowd disappointed that a favorite son chose to attend a Big 10
rival. "It's always fun to go home and play," said Anderson.
At Minnesota, he'd face kids like Adam Boone and Ben Johnson that he's
known since his high school days, which always adds to the challenge.
A look at the Big 10 standings and a
glance back at a, 76-70 Sunday loss to Purdue after playing one of his
best games of the season, however, are all the challenge he needs.Anderson,
an 82% free throw shooter, missed the front end of a one-and-one with
just seconds left, opening the door for a Brandon McKnight lay up in the
final seconds to send the game into overtime. Despite the miss, he was
named MSU's Chevrolet Player of the Game, a tribute to his 10-point second
half and overall team leadership.
The accolades are no consolation, however,
he knows he needs different results on his Minnesota visit.
"We had it! We had it!" he said over and over following the
Purdue loss. "We had it won and we just let it go."
He can't quite remember if he's ever had such a thing happen to him before,
but if he had, it's been replaced by Sunday's missed free throw as his
most disappointing moment.Playing in his hometown on the Gopher's raised
floor is fun but presents a special challenge."Playing on their floor
is like playing on a stage," Anderson said. "And the people
are right up on you."
He did not have tremendous success in
his freshman and sophomore trips to Minnesota.
"It's special, but I don't put any extra pressure on myself,"
he said. "The first year I think I did," he said. "Now
I just want to do the things that help us win."Like coach Tom Izzo
and the rest of the Spartans, Anderson is wary of the Gophers who have
yet to win a Big 10 contest. They have a good team," Anderson said.
"They have the Big 10's leading scorer and rebounder (Kris Humphries)."
The Gophers have a solid group of players and a super star in Humphries.
They're poised to beat someone soon. Anderson and the Spartans hope its
not on his homecoming.
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