East Lansing, MI
When the #2 Michigan State Spartans tip off Friday night at the Big Ten Tournament they have a lot more on the line than just their stellar 26-5 (13-5) record. With Tom Izzo’s best chance at a second national title (3rd for MSU) on the line and a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the stakes are high.
Matt Painter the head coach of Purdue handed Izzo one of his five losses this season. He told me after, that it was his opinion the key to stopping MSU is not a futile attempt at stopping Denzel Valentine. “We think you have to shut down (Bryn) Forbes.”
So as Izzo gets ready to attack the post season, is stopping Forbes the key to knocking this Spartan team out?
“Well, he didn’t play as well the last game and we won. So, you know, you’re right but remember, some of those games where he was stopped, Valentine wasn’t here, Tum (LouRawls “Tum Tum” Nairn) wasn’t here. So I don’t think one guy, I definitely think there’s, if you look at the statistical information, the analytics of it as I hate to do, you would say that’s 100% true. But you look at this team, (Matt) Costello averages a double double, and I still think Deyonta (Davis) is making some strides. And I think Eron Harris has made a lot of strides since we lost some of those games in a row early. So we’ve got to keep Bryn on by doing the things he does. In the last game, he did not run his lane as well. Where at Rutgers he got a bunch of shots that way. We got sloppy in the last game, guys, and whether we want to hear that or we think it’s the Izzo motivation tactic or, you know, maybe I would even take, maybe I would even be dumb enough to take an hour or two to have a media film session and show you what I’m saying here. I’d give it some thought and figure out how you guys would damage me on it, but I think I really believe that he’s got to keep working, coming off screens tough, playing good defense, and he’s got to make shots. Last game, he had some open shots he didn’t make. He’s just as responsible for that as other guys are responsible for rebounding. Eron’s responsible for defense. Bryn’s responsible for making shots. So how are we gonna keep him doing that? Tell him to keep doing what he’s been doing, because he’s been doing a pretty good job of it.”
So while opponents may think stopping Forbes is the key to a win over the Spartans this off season, but this team is a lot more than Forbes. This team is peaking at the right time and hitting on all of their parts. That is good news for the Spartans.
The Spartans will be tipping off vs. Ohio State or Penn State. They have blown out both teams twice this season. The game tips off at 6:30PM and it can be seen on BTN.