About Damn Time
Here's the thing. You're going to read that title and think I'm saying something like "it's about damn time this team looked like this." And yeah, that's part of it. I didn't get as low as a lot of you, but yeah, it's nice to see it all finally coming together.
But the main reason for this title is because that's the song stuck in my head the last week or two (Lizzo's "About Damn Time"). You might think you don't know the song, but you probably know the song. You know that song that goes...
In a minute
I'ma need a
Man or woman
To pump me up
That's About Damn Time by Lizzo. For whatever reason, while in Tampa, the radio station in the rental car was set to a station that played About Damn Time once per hour. I'm sure we heard it ten times. Next time you see my wife, ask her about the dance I made up for About Damn Time. She'll roll her eyes but whatever I'm a good dancer.
And this is how my brain works. Whenever there's a song that gets stuck, everything revolves around it. When I'm being funny on Twitter...
It's Dainja o'clock— Robert Rosenthal (@ALionEye) January 14, 2023
yeah it's thick thirty
...there's a really good chance that it's a spin on the lyrics of a song that's stuck in my head.
(But seriously, if Dainja changed his number from 42 to 30, I could sell one hundred thousand Thick Thirty shirts.)
So I guess it's more than just "I have a song stuck in my head." It's more like "for these two weeks, my life, for whatever reason, will revolve around the song About Damn Time and then I'll move on to something else." Start us off, Lizzo.
Is everybody back up in the buildin'?
It's been a minute, tell me how you're healin'
'Cause I'm about to get into my feelings
How you feelin'? How you feel right now?
I feel pretty great, Lizzo. Thanks for asking. Everyone was back up in the building, all wearing orange, and it felt like 2002. This one felt like a game from the glory days.
Part of that, I'm sure, was where I was sitting. Both Tyler and I were covering this one (him for his yearly "minutes" article which will be up on Sunday and me to write about the game), so I requested that he be on the floor with me upstairs in the overflow media section. The overflow media seats are at the front of the 200 level (I took the photo at the top from my media seat), so watching a game from there literally feels like 2002 to me.
But this was more than that. Orange Out, Michigan State in town, Friday night game on national TV - as I said on the Twitter Spaces after the game, this game felt like a game in Assembly Hall, not State Farm Center. You know what I mean by that, I think.
And the comeback - down 50-41 with 13 minutes remaining and then we win 75-66 - felt even more like those 2000 through 2006 teams. You're frustrated, you're wondering why nothing is working, and then this big surge as the Orange Out moves from loud to deafening. When Matt Mayer hit that three to tie the game, it was one of those great Assembly Hall/SFC "everyone says 'three' at the same time as the ball is in the air and when it splashes the crowd explodes" moments.
The final five minutes felt just like a game from that era. Got a few homer calls (remember when we used to get all kinds of homer calls in Assembly Hall?). Hit some huge threes. Even when we had a bad shot, someone was there for the immediate put-back. "Now that we have the lead, we're not giving it back" was a thing back in those days, and now it feels like it's returned. 2000 through 2006? Meet 2020 through... hopefully 2035.
It's about damn time.
+ We have to talk about Dainja, right? And Mayer. Dainja and Mayer. The Baylor Boys.
Here's their stat lines:
Dainja - 20 points, 7 rebounds, 8-12 from the floor, 4-5 from the line (!!!).
Mayer - 19 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 blocks. 7-12 from the floor including 3-6 from three.
Add in Terrence Shannon's points (17) and here's a fun stat:
Returning players + freshmen: 19 points
The three transfers: 56 points
Dainja's wrists continue to amaze me. I know that's not the right way to say it, but the angle the ball comes out of his hand sometimes makes me believe his wrists are double-jointed. I know I'm supposed to say he has amazing hands, but I swear it's his wrists.
And Mayer continues to settle into a role with this team. Here's another fun stat I just found while looking through his game log:
His first 8 games: in double figures one time (11 points vs. UCLA)
The last 9 games: in double figures eight out of nine games (he only had 7 against Bethune-Cookman).
These are the developments that needed to happen for us to become the team that we were all hoping to see.
+ My friends Dave and Annie are spending the night after going to the game tonight. They're asleep in the guest room right now. I'm in the office and the office shares a wall with the guest room.
They sleep with a sound machine (probably an app) and their chosen background noise is one of those new age music sounding things. Like, it's not a beach noise or an airplane noise - it's these chords progressions that put you to sleep. I'm gonna need to put on headphones or something. Not because it's annoying, but because it's extremely relaxing.
I'm starting to feel... hypnotized? Like, when I go to sleep, I might reach a different level of sleep. Wait, is this some kind of Inception plan? If I let them have my house and my car tomorrow, please know that this was how it started.
+ One of my favorite feelings as a fan is watching a freshman you know is going to be rock solid for years. We felt it with Trent Frazier in 2018. And I feel it with Jayden Epps right now.
The best part of Epps' stat line tonight: 5 assists, 0 turnovers. As a team tonight, only five turnovers total. One in the second half. One!
Epps played 31 minutes tonight, and given the roster situation, he's pretty much going to have to do that for the rest of the season. And then the next three seasons after that.
+ I know Malik Hall was dealing with an injury and missed nearly a month for Michigan State. He returned on December 30th and has played five games since. He scored 15 in their win over Michigan last week, so it seemed like he was getting back to 100% (and 100% Malik Hall was preseason first team All Big Ten this year).
But he was completely invisible tonight. 2 points in 18 minutes. I'm sure part of that was our defense, but still, 2 points? I don't think Michigan State is going to win many games if Malik Hall only gives them two points. This was supposed to be his team. And he just wasn't anywhere to be found tonight.
OK, that sound machine has pretty much moved me into REM sleep at this point. I need to get to my bed before I slip into this trance. Play us out, Lizzo.
Turn up the music, turn down the lights
I got a feelin' we're gonna be alright
Okay (okay), alright
It's about damn time