St Louis, MO
Moments after the #2 Michigan State Spartans suffered a devastating loss to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 90-81; fan speculation ran rampant questioning Tom Izzo’s decision on playing time. Sadly it was no surprise as the term fan is short for fanatical and they wanted to desperately find reasons as to why their national title dreams where pulled away at the last second by the Blue Raiders playing the role of Lucy to the Spartans Charlie Brown from the comic Peanuts. It was more a quest for comfort than calling out the Spartan legend.
Deyonta “DD” Davis the Spartans star freshman big man is projected as high as the NBA lottery portion of the first round should he leave early for the professional ranks. While he played 12 of the 20 minutes in the first half, he only picked up three in the second half.
People started calling out and questioning the Spartans nearly certain Hall of Fame coach on Twitter, emails to journalists and of course message boards. It’s understandable. Fans wanted answers to how the mighty Spartans had somehow suffered what many pundits (me included) are calling the worst loss in NCAA tournament history.
In his post-game press conference Izzo said, “We put him in a tough position having to guard a guy that could put it on the floor and hit a three. I mean, Upshaw is a good player. He draws fouls, and he does a lot of things. It just wasn’t that kind of game for Deyonta. So it was more of us putting him in a bad position than anything he did.”
Izzo continued, “I knew he would struggle some, but I just didn’t think they would hit the shots they hit, and they did. Make no mistake about it. I’m not sure anybody in my career has shot those kind of numbers, 57-percent. I’ve never seen that happen to us. So Deyonta, just a more difficult time, moving his feet, doing the things he did. Matt was playing so well, I didn’t want to play him at center. So that’s why he was a little shell-shocked by some of it, I think.”
So while Davis has to make a decision about leaving for the NBA draft by late May, it was on this court at the NCAA tournament that he showed his biggest weakness. That isn’t a slam. He is still a great player and only a true freshman. He has grown by leaps and bounds as a player, but even the greatest players have weaknesses. His two pieces of kryptonite would be his defense and physical strength. It showed on this night. He was not the reason MSU lost this game, only a part. There is good news moving forward, that can be repaired after a long off season in the weight room and lots of workouts in East Lansing should he choose to come back.