March 9, 2007

Chicago, IL

Big Ten Tournament

The Spartan Nation came into tonight with high expectations.  They were not met.  The Spartans fell to the Badgers 70-57.  That wasn’t the story however.  Drew Neitzel was.

Neitzel is without question the leader of this team and he was never in sync.  In the previous two games against the Badgers, Neitzel kept his Spartans in the hunt.  Tonight he just didn’t have the gas in his tank.  Goran Suton was impressive scoring 14 (12 in the first half) but again Raymar Morgan struggled with fouls and yet again fouled out, as did Naymick.

Sitting courtside it was the first time I have ever seen Drew as visibly upset and frustrated as he was.  It was a very frustrating loss of the Spartans who posses a litany of issues with the Badgers.  Losing is hard; losing to Bo and the Badgers is unacceptable in an Izzo world.  It is that reason why the Spartan Nation has to love King Izzo.  Whether or not he has the best group of athletes, he expects them to win all the time.

Izzo’s team came into tonight athletically outmatched but not out coached.  While Ryan again had to battle to beat the Spartans, Izzo took less and made more.  Looking to the NCAA tournament is for Monday.  Tonight I want to ask the Spartan Nation a question.

Would Ryan have done as much with this team?  No way.  Sitting behind him is a chore tonight.  I don’t like him or how he runs a team.  When Marquise made a spectacular play but made the slightest gesture he was ripped by Izzo, while Ryan’s players ran up and down the court with tongues wagging and gyrations flying and he simply ignored them.  One member of the media told me “it is very clear whose program is run with class.”  I agree.

I didn’t expect the Spartans to win the Big Ten tournament. The fact that we at least had hope makes me think about how fortunate we are to have Izzo.  MSU lost tonight to a more gifted team athletically.  Not to a better program, coach or even a program with MSU’s class.

I for one wish that next season was a schedule full of Badgers.  When Izzo has this team with the addition of next year’s freshman class, it will be all joy in muddville.  I for one have to go take a shower, I feel dirty sitting in front of the Badger fans and behind the bench.  Listening to teenage girls question the size of the refs’ male organs and 40 minutes of the worst vulgarity I have ever heard showed me what I needed to see.  The United Center guard turned to me and said, “If this was a Bulls game, those fans would be gone.”  I am however so proud to be a Spartan.  I know that all teams have fans that lack class, maybe just tonight it seemed the majority were on the Badger side.

Tonight was disappointing but not to be expected.  The fact was that we were here, we were MSU, and we left proud of our program.  Something the Badgers can’t say.  In my opinion. 

With 12 seconds left, up 12 Wisconsin took a three pointer and hit it.  Something Izzo doesn’t allow his team to do because it disrespects his opponents.  Something that I think the Badgers and especially Bo Ryan don’t care about.

Class means something to me, and I leave the United Center so proud to be a Spartan.  Great job guys!  I give you the highest compliment:  you are Spartans!