You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand what a team is. Teams are a part of our everyday life, and most of us have been a part of a team in some way shape or form. Teams are an important part of athletic competition. This is the way the basketball gods intended for it to be. Who are we to question?

 

The basketball gods have a way of separating the men from the boys as far as teams are concerned and for some reason this season they have set their sights on the Michigan State Men’s Basketball Team.

The non-conference season is over. What looked like a promising year for the Spartans is quickly turning into a disaster. I know what all of you out there may be thinking. The Spartans are coming off injuries, the loss of Chris Allen, and a grueling non-conference schedule, which included playing five teams, ranked in the top 25.

 

Let’s not forget this is essentially the same basketball team that played for the national title two years ago and ran on fumes all the way to Indianapolis last March. What could be the problem? The Spartans return nine players from last year’s Final Four team, and managed to bring in a star studded recruiting class anchored by Keith Appling and Adreian Payne.

 

This might be one of the most talented teams Tom Izzo has ever coached. The Spartans demolishing teams en route to a national championship is what we should have been seeing up to this point. Instead we’ve all been tortured by dismal free throw shooting, soft play inside, turnovers, and lack of intensity.

 

Be Quiet! Do you hear that? I think it’s the basketball Gods trying to teach us a lesson. I think the lesson just hit home. Let me share it with you. Talent wins games, teams win championships.  The Spartans 2-0 start in the Big Ten could be telling.

What makes up a great team? Great teams have an identity. When I look at the last few national champions, the one thing they have in common is that they asserted their identity throughout the regular season and into the post season. What is this team’s identity? They obviously don’t have one.

 

Defense and rebounding were staples of the Spartan identity. What happened to the good old days of vice grip defense and relentless pounding of the boards? I’ll tell you what happened. They are gone! Opposing guards like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker have exploited the Spartan defense to the tune of 30-point games respectively.

 

Travis Walton would have never allowed this to happen. The blue-collar work ethic we’ve seen over the years has been traded in for complacency and erratic play. Let me stop beating around the bush. This “team” is soft. Soft teams don’t win championships. Thank the basketball gods for this revelation.

Teams possess desire. Human beings aren’t blessed with the gift to read minds, but we can read body language. Sometimes you just have to read between the lines. The players on this “team” always exhibit a look of indifference on their faces before they take the floor. Is this what we expect from a final four caliber team? Why can’t the Spartans get up for a big game? Hunched over shoulders, pouting, and shuffling feet tell us all we need to know. The Spartans are not confident they can win.

 

Was I the only one who thought they had the proverbial “deer in the headlights” look when playing Duke? Great teams don’t look at the name on the opposing team’s jersey. Great teams look at the name on their jersey and then look within to achieve victory. This “team” also seems happy with just competing.

 

This is Michigan State University folks. Izzo and the gang of green have been to six final fours in 12 years. They actually won a national championship in 2000. Why settle with just competing? Who desires to be second? Winners don’t do this. Talented players do.

One can never underestimate the ability of Izzo and his staff to mold this “team” by the time the big dance rolls around. I wouldn’t bet my money on Michigan State University reaching Houston though.

 

This “team” has yet to see the emergence of a consistent role player, and the until the Spartans can get consistent production out of the front court the Final Four is as likely as pigs flying. T.E.A.M. stands for Together Everyone Achieves More, and until the Spartans play like this they will only be Terribly Erroneous Athletes Malfunctioning.