Michigan State hockey


Adam Nightingale has Michigan State Hockey buzzing ahead of toughest tests of the season

Adam Nightingale has Michigan State hockey buzzing ahead of the Spartans’ toughest tests of the young season.

When Adam Nightingale was hired back in May to take charge of the Michigan State hockey program, many thought there was a long road ahead to get the team back to what it was in years past.

The national championship run back in 2007 was just a distant memory and the program had hit a bit of a lull at the end of the Danton Cole era. Change was needed for sure and those who follow hockey knew just how difficult the road ahead would be to tear down and rebuild the program into a contender.

Enter, Nightingale.

He had just recently taken over the US National Developmental Program team and earned the US a silver medal at the 2022 World Under 18 tourney. The opportunity to take over his alma mater’s program was too good to pass up and he decided to take over as head coach of Michigan State. He vowed to rework the program and not only hope to turn it back into a competitor on the ice but make it a great place for players to further themselves academically and in the community as well.

With an emphasis on recruiting, Nightingale laid the plans for his path at MSU and began getting to work.

Most people thought the culture shift he would bring to the team would take shape eventually but few imagined the impact he’d have would be felt this immediately.

After a slow start to begin the season, MSU has started running on all cylinders, winning seven of its eight games in November including sweeps of weekend series over Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Miami (OH). The stellar play of late has gotten MSU some national notice as they have recently climbed up to No. 13 in the USCHO poll, No. 11 in the USA Today Poll, and No. 7 in the Pairwise Rankings.

MSU will need to keep the great play going if it wants to continue climbing up the rankings, however. In what will definitely be the toughest four games so far this season, the Spartans’ pre-Christmas schedule kicks off this weekend as they will welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers to Munn for games Friday and Saturday night. After the two games against the Gophers, the Spartans will have one more series before the Christmas break on Dec. 10-11 against the school down the road. Dec. 10’s game will be held at Munn and then the Spartans will travel to Ann Arbor on Dec. 11 to complete the home-and-home.

Minnesota and Michigan rank Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, in the USCHO poll and are going to pose a very formidable test for Nightingale and the Spartans. Minnesota coming off a split with Arizona State recently will be looking to regain some momentum before the holiday and Michigan is coming off a road series split with Notre Dame. With three of those four games at Munn, hopefully the Spartans can benefit from some home cooking.

If the Spartans are going to keep up their winning ways, goaltender Dylan St. Cyr figures to be a key as to why. The grad transfer standout is coming off a big shutout against Miami (OH) and will need to continue his superb play against the Gophers.

Whether MSU can continue this pace or not, it’s clear that Nightingale’s tenure is starting off the right way. Recruiting has taken a big upswing and the new-look Munn Arena is turning a lot of heads. Hopefully these changes to MSU’s program will continue to be well received by the fans and we can continue watching a great product on and off the ice.

Anyone with some free time this weekend should definitely get to campus to check out the games and support the program. Hopefully we can get Munn packed for some great hockey this weekend.

dante moore

© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Andrew Depaepe doing some Dante Moore recruiting of his own

Four-star Michigan State defensive end commit Andrew Depaepe is taking it upon himself to recruit Dante Moore.

A couple of weeks ago, Justin Thind of The Athletic and 247Sports reported that Michigan State football was going to gauge interest in Dante Moore once again.

Mel Tucker had to know that Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham was a favorite to land the Arizona State job and that was Moore’s leading recruiter before he committed to the Ducks. Their relationship was a big reason why he picked Oregon over schools like Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan State.

So being proactive could help Michigan State’s chances since Dillingham is officially off to Arizona State. Heck, someone even noticed that Moore deleted his commitment post on Instagram this week.

That was an interesting development in this recruitment and now that his senior season with Detroit King is officially in the books, it’s about to heat up.

Tucker is going to put the full-court press on, but so are some of his own recruits.

In fact, four-star defensive line commit Andrew Depaepe has taken it upon himself to do some recruiting of Dante Moore.

You have to love the dedication here. He’s a recruit himself and yet he’s out here trying to make sure Michigan State can get Moore to campus.

And this is just what we see publicly. Depaepe could be doing some more recruiting behind the scenes, getting in Dante’s ear about a visit to East Lansing.

It feels like there’s a long way to go in this recruitment but since Moore’s season is officially done and he’s a state champ, he can focus on his future college.

Will he stay with Oregon despite Dillingham moving on? It’s possible and even likely, but Michigan State isn’t going down without a fight, especially if Deapepe and the rest of the 2023 class have something to say about it.

Michigan State got itself a heck of a recruiter in Depaepe and, heck, he’s a pretty good defensive lineman, too.

Let’s hope his Dante Moore recruiting pays off.

dante moore

© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State football: Two more interesting developments in Dante Moore pursuit

There have been two more interesting developments in Michigan State football’s pursuit of Dante Moore that could help the Spartans.

Wrapping up his senior season with a state title at Detroit (Mich.) King, Dante Moore can now put all of his focus directly on one thing: the future. If it were up to Michigan State football fans, he’d opt to stay home and play for the Spartans instead of heading out west to grace the Oregon program. He’s a program-changing prospect and will have an immediate impact wherever he goes.

Every Spartan fan is hoping it’s East Lansing.

Moore has been committed to Oregon since July, joining the new coaching regime in Eugene. Dan Lanning and Kenny Dillingham did a fantastic job of courting him and it felt like it was the perfect fit. But then a new report alluded to a potential change of plans.

Following the decommitment of Bo Edmundson, Justin Thind of 247Sports and The Athletic reported that Michigan State was going to reach out to Moore again.

The Spartans were heavily involved in his recruitment originally before Edmundson committed.

Now that they’re looking for a quarterback again, Moore has slid to the top of the board. And Mel Tucker isn’t going down without a fight.

He’s been helped by the Arizona State interest of Dillingham, the offensive coordinator who recruited Moore to Oregon. That was a development that seemed to sway the momentum a bit in the Spartans’ direction last week.

Since then, there have been two more positive developments for the “Moore to MSU” crowd.

First, Dillingham and Arizona State have officially agreed upon a deal and he’ll be leaving Oregon after one year for the desert. Moore wished him well on social media and it just felt like the two had an undeniable connection that only a new job would break.

It’s doubtful that Moore would head to Arizona State given the program’s current state, but you never know when it comes to recruiting relationships.

The second interesting development has been the deletion of a certain commitment post on Instagram by Moore. According to Matthew Lounsberry of SI.com, people noticed that his commitment post was no longer on his Instagram as of Monday, leading some to believe that a decommitment could be on the horizon.

Obviously this is all speculation, but it’s interesting timing, to say the least.

Michigan State is going to make this last push for Moore to see where it stands and if the Spartans can get him to campus before signing day, they’ll be in great shape. That’s a big if right now.

Michigan State women's basketball

© Melanie Maxwell, Detroit Free Press

Michigan State women’s basketball turns to balanced attack

Michigan State women’s basketball won’t be relying on a single player but will rather have a balanced attack this season.

The Michigan State women’s basketball team wrapped up their season-opening five game home stand with a fifth straight blowout win over Florida A&M.

The level of dominance displayed by State was to be expected given the level of competition — MSU hosted Delaware State, Fort Wayne, Western Michigan, Oakland, and FAMU — but what the Spartans have shown in the early season is a fast, physical, exciting style of play that should translate against tougher competition in the Big Ten. 

Whether they’ll admit it or not, the Spartan women’s squad came into this season with an identity crisis. Gone is Nia Clouden, who averaged 20 points per game last season on her way to becoming the second-leading scorer in school history. The prolific 5-foot-9 guard was selected 12th overall in the WNBA draft by the Connecticut Sun. 

Through five games, it’s clear that Spartans’ head coach Suzy Merchant will not be relying on any one player to replace Clouden’s production. Instead, a collection of faces both new and known are looking to be key contributors in a balanced offensive attack.

Ball movement has been the emphasis in the early season, with just two Spartans scoring in double figures per game but nine players scoring over five points per game. 

Michigan State will look for much of their offense from behind the three-point line this season, led by sophomore guard/forward Matilda Ekh. The sweet-shooting Swede sits fourth in the nation with 16 3-pointers this season, doing so at an efficient 45 percent clip. Also a threat from downtown is sophomore point guard DeeDee Hagemann, looking to fill the big shoes of Nia Clouden as the Spartans’ starting floor general. The Detroit native is shooting 50 percent from the field and 8-of-14 from deep while pacing the starting lineup with 20 assists on the year. 

Freshman Theryn Hallock, Hagemann’s backup at the point, looks like she will be a big contributor in her debut season for the green and white. Hallock leads the team with 22 assists, and is scoring 7.4 points per game while hitting nearly 70 percent of her shots. Though the game looks a little fast for Hallock at times — she has committed a team-high 14 turnovers —  she’s a tough, incisive defender who will make running the offense challenging for other Big Ten backup point guards. 

Kamaria McDaniel is another new face that looks to be a big part of Merchant’s plans this season. The graduate guard transferred from Baylor this offseason, but she is no stranger to the Big Ten. The Michigan-born McDaniel played two years at Penn State before her two at Baylor, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors when she scored nearly 20 points per game for the Lady Lions in 2019-20. McDaniel is a proven three-level scorer whose wealth of experience looks like it will pay huge dividends on a team full of youth. She’s stirred the pot on offense with her ability to get to the rim and finish through contact, as she’s first on the team and seventh in the country with 31 free throw attempts so far this season. 

Another transfer that will start for the Spartans is junior guard Gabby Elliott, a native of Detroit, who transferred to MSU this offseason from Clemson. In addition to her defense — she’s averaging two steals per game — Elliott is another three-level scorer who has given the Spartans 8.8 points per game on nearly 60 percent efficiency thus far. The 5-foot-10 guard is the second-leading rebounder on the team right now, a testament to the effort she plays with in all phases of the game. 

In the post for the Spartans will be a combination of senior Taiyier Parks backed up by sophomore Isaline Alexander. Both have rebounded well and scored efficiently in the post against overmatched competition early on. The Spartan forwards are both shooting right around 60 percent, doing most of their work on offense within three feet of the bucket. Alexander leads the team with six blocks. 

Suzy Merchant’s team has one more tune-up game on Saturday at Central Michigan before they will head out to Portland, Ore., for their first test of the year against No. 7 Iowa State in the Phil Knight Invitational Tournament.

The Spartans will open Big Ten play at the Breslin Center on Dec. 5 against Purdue. 

Michigan State women's basketball

© Melanie Maxwell, Detroit Free Press

3 reasons you should be excited for Michigan State Wrestling

Although it’s not one of the major sports nor is it widely celebrated, you should be excited about Michigan State wrestling.

Many Spartan fans may not be familiar with Michigan State wrestling, but I’m here to tell you why you should be excited about this program.

Believe in Roger Chandler

Let’s be honest. You probably don’t follow MSU wrestling because it’s been dormant in the Big Ten for such a long time. Well, now’s a good time to hop on the bandwagon.

Roger Chandler has been developing this program for several years now, and this is the year it’s all supposed to come together. At its highest point last season, MSU was ranked No. 15 in the country, and giving programs that are wrestling royalty pretty big headaches. En route to a 10-4 campaign in 2021-22, State finished first in the Navy classic, knocked off No. 12 Purdue, No. 14 Rutgers, and ended the season with a senior night victory over No. 21 Central Michigan.

Chandler is building something, and two guys, in particular, are leading the charge.

The leadership

In every sport, you need good leaders on your team, and wrestling is no different. These two seniors are heading the rebuild of MSU wrestling, and they’re performing in a big way.

At the 133-pound weight class is No. 9-ranked Rayvon Foley. He’s a sixth-year senior, and after a disappointing NCAA tournament, he’s back with a vengeance, starting off the season 2-0, including a 19-4 tech fall victory over Jackson Sichelstiel.

The 197-pounder for MSU is No. 16-ranked Cam Caffey. A fifth-year senior, Caffey has been a mainstay for MSU over his career, and he picked up his 100th win, a very rare and coveted achievement in college wrestling, with a beautiful hip toss that led to the pin against Davidson last weekend. He is also coming into this weekend 2-0.

These are the guys MSU is going to lean on this season. All very explosive and elite wrestlers, look for these guys to make a splash on their final season as Spartans.

Taking care of business

When you wrestle inferior opponents, you have to take care of business. And that’s exactly what the Spartans did last weekend. Beating Davidson and Presbyterian by a combined score of 98-3, MSU rolled, only losing one match the entire time.

Chandler said it best: “It’s just a continuation of what we told our guys ahead of the season: set the tone for your season, look to go out and score points and make a statement. By in large, most of our guys did that tonight. They were looking to score points. They were offensive. All of the points that we scored came offensively, not defensively, which is great. The outcome of the dual was in large part due to bonus points, and in the end, I give our guys a lot of credit for achieving that.”

And set the tone they did. The 52-0 victory against Davidson is the largest margin of victory in MSU wrestling history, which included six (!!!) pins. State has been rolling, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Michigan State hockey


Adam Nightingale and the resurgence of Michigan State hockey

Adam Nightingale was hired to turn the Michigan State hockey program around and he’s off to a running start.

When is the last time anyone has been excited to hear about what Michigan State hockey is doing? The magical run of that 2007 National Championship team is a distant memory. Recruiting had fallen flat.

Something had to give.

With the renovation of Munn Arena nearly complete, Michigan State is once again the talk around college hockey. It certainly has been a while. I, for one, can’t remember being this excited about a coaching hire like Adam Nightingale. The excitement was there with Danton Cole, but that excitement quickly faded after the losses piled up. This included embarrassing blowout losses to arch-rival Michigan.

Michigan State was in the cellar where they had been for the final few years of Tom Anastos. Spartan hockey fans have been patient — maybe a bit too patient — waiting on results.

In came Nightingale. Vowing to return Spartan hockey to national prominence, he got right to work. He hit the recruiting trail hard. In Nightingale’s first season, by god, the results are there.

I know, I know, small sample size but when is the last time we saw this team compete? In the last two seasons combined, the Spartans won 11 total games. Through 12 games this season, the Spartans have eight in the win column, including a four-game win streak and a recent sweep of 10th-ranked Ohio State. They also sit atop the conference with a respectable 4-1-1 record.

We will certainly find out what Nightingale’s team is made of in the next few series, starting with a two-game set at No. 6 Penn State this weekend followed by a visit to Miami (OH) next weekend.

Can the Spartans compete with the big boys (i.e. Minnesota, Michigan)? The jury is still out on Nightingale. Can he turn this program around? Only time will tell. But as of now, he’s got this team on the right track.

If he can get his team to compete and finish strong, the sky’s the limit.