His smile says it all.  The Spartans best player refuses to lose and leads his team in March!  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

His smile says it all. The Spartans best player refuses to lose and leads his team in March! Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

 

Conseco Fieldhouse

Indianapolis, IN

 

If you fell asleep last September with the Spartans the pre season #1 or #2 team in the country in college basketball, and you woke up tonight, you were not shocked.  Everyone else was.  This was the team not only the Spartan Nation expected, but the rest of the nation when the season started. 

 

They came out and from whistle to whistle dominated a very good Purdue team that beat them on January 22 of this year in West Lafayette by 10, and on February 27 in East Lansing by 20.  They didn’t win.  You read it right.  They dominated.  They looked like the preseason #1 team.  They had 41 rebounds to Purdue’s 28.  They only had nine turnovers and they had Kalin Lucas.

 

Lucas had 30 points and was the kryptonite to the Boilermaker mojo.  He said after the game in the locker room, “I really just wanted to go out there and do whatever it took to win.  That’s what I did, and it worked out for me.”

 

That wasn’t all he said.  Draymond Green said after the game that this morning at walk around Lucas told him, “Day Day let’s go out there and beat them by 20.”  They nearly did.  They had the Boilermakers more frustrated than a Wisconsin union worker.

 

Delvon Roe who is nothing short of warrior had a lot to say about his senior leader.  Roe who has had his knees drained of fluid all season said of the performance of his hobbled senior captain, “Kalin is a warrior.  That’s what K does.”

 

Tom Izzo’s constant mantra is that the best teams are player coached.  He has also clamored for Lucas to get more vocal.  Early in the game when he was calling for a player to come over to him for instruction, Lucas got there first and acted like Izzo’s extension on the court and what the head coach craves from his point man.  Izzo shook his head in delight when I mentioned it to him and said, “There was a look in their eyes this morning…It started to happen in the walk thru…we had three of them today.  It wasn’t player coached it was that all in it look.”

 

This team played the game the nation has waited for.  It saved it’s best for March.  With the Spartans on tap to now play the winner of the Wisconsin vs. Penn State, both team that they have beaten and that have beaten them this year, they at least have a shot at a banner.  Izzo judges seasons on banners and footprints. 

 

Izzo’s program hasn’t won the Big Ten Tournament since 2000 and this team now has a great opportunity to do it.  Draymond said of the performance of his team tonight and everyone asking when they would have this game, “When is that game coming?  I have been waiting for when we were gonna play that great game.”

 

This team is energized.  They are fired up.  Izzo looked relieved and more importantly said it best when he said it least, “I’m really proud of this team.”  So is the Spartan Nation.

 

All year at Spartan Nation we have said what we always say any season.  You wait and judge Izzo in March.  March is far from over, but tonight you saw why.