Tom Izzo has his biggest coaching job ahead of him now that March is firmly here.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Tom Izzo has his biggest coaching job ahead of him now that March is firmly here. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

 

The bottom has almost completely fell out of the season for the MSU men’s basketball team. The second consecutive loss to the University of Michigan marks an all time low.

 

For the first time in what seems an eternity, the Spartans are on the “bubble.” It is a real possibility that if Michigan State does not take care of business this week, they will find themselves in the NIT. (NOT IN TOURNAMET)

 

Despite his team’s struggles Tom Izzo took the to podium for his weekly press conference, still confident that his team can turn it around. Notable excerpts include:

 

“It’s a disappointing loss, but now we get a new season.”

 

“ I think he’s a guy (Green) that can raise it a level and will.”

 

“Eventually when you don’t make shots, your defense gets worse.”

 

“ We’ve been a very inconsistent shooting team. I think that has a lot to do with Allen and Lucious out.”

 

“We got to play well and win a game.”

 

“ You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know our back is against the wall.”

 

“The doctor checked Delvon’s knee and it’s the best its been.”

 

Well ladies and gentlemen it all comes down to this. What promised to be a season that guaranteed a national championship has basically turned into a fight to become tournament eligible.

 

Izzo’s confidence in his team speaks volumes and is commendable. He can sell it, but I for one don’t buy it. This team is in serious trouble. The ability to turn this season around rests solely on whether this team has the personnel to do so. Does this team have that personnel? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

The long list of issues, which plagues this team starts at their inability to hit jump shots. Losing Russell Byrd to a stress fracture is really starting to show the missing dimension that this team needs.(After the Allen and Lucious dismissals) I keep hearing Izzo say “We’ve just got to hit shots.”

 

This has grown tired over this season. No one on this team is a consistent shooter. They can shoot on given nights, but nothing along the lines of anything that can remotely be considered consistent. Relying on the Spartans to beat a team with their jump shooting is like relying on a man to win a gunfight when he is only armed with a knife.

 

Earlier in the season, Tom Izzo complained about his team being a “soft” jump shot shooting team. Guess what? They still are!  It’s amazing to me that a coach of his caliber has failed to make adjustments to rectify this. Teams that play zone continue to throw MSU off balance, because of their inability or stubbornness to “get nasty” in the paint. This is due in part to the ineptness of the frontcourt at times.

 

Nix’s weight continues to fluctuate, while Sherman continually struggles to play through the physicality that the “Big Ten” presents. Coming into this year, the big knock on Adreian Payne was that he was too raw and not strong enough. It seems to me as though Payne has adjusted well to his role, so its disappointing not to see him getting more minutes.

 

Izzo should’ve’ thrown Payne in my opinion into the fire and let him play through his mistakes earlier in the season.  His offensive versatility allows him to step out and make a 15 ft jump shot, while still being able to finish around the basket. More importantly his continued presence on the floor would keep Green and Roe out of foul trouble.

 

If Izzo wants to make a run, I don’t think its possible to do so playing the same lineups he has all season. He will have to make a change, but knowing how stubborn Izzo is I doubt this will happen. Shooting is a skill that is perfected by countless hours in the gym, and it doesn’t just improve over a six game stretch in March.

 

I say all of this with the utmost respect for Tom Izzo.  He’s provided us with countless memories in March. Lets jut hope 2011 is another memorable March.