Three Up or Down:  the three Parts of the #2 Michigan State basketball that are trending up or down now after the beat down of Long Beach State.

  1. DOWN Turnover This team keeps making them.  So many unforced that it simply doesn’t make sense.  12 last night, but they keep winning big.  That works now, but won’t on the road in the Big Ten or in March.  Tom Izzo said last night about the turnovers that, “There’s no secrets about it. I think if you counted them tonight, we counted about seven of our first nine were borderline ridiculous, unforced, whatever you want to call them. So, I don’t know. You know, we’re working on it every day. We’re talking about it every day. Should be easy to correct because it’s not even trying to make a play. You know, we’re out in the middle of the court and we just throw it out of bounds and we did some things, so that’s the only negative.”
  2. UP Long Range Shooting When the Spartans are hitting from long range they simply can’t be beaten. MSU looked for their shots and hit them.  Izzo said, “I think we’re running our offense better that was one of the, you know I kind of forget some of the good things because I’m so driven on these turnovers because I do think that will be a downfall for us and the 3-point shot defense, but we said a couple weeks ago that practice would get us more efficient offensively and I think we’re a lot more efficient in the last five games now. We’ve been going against maybe not the same kind of competition, but wide-open shots are wide open shots and now we’re making them. Screening better, we’re coming of them better, moving the ball a little better. That zone gave us a little bit of trouble. I didn’t think we attacked that great, but it was partly because our point guards just weren’t with it early. I think we’ll fix that and getting zoned doesn’t bother me at all.”
  3. UP They Are Really Special LB Coach Dan Monson said as much, “That’s what makes a special Michigan State team is that toughness down the stretch.  But personnel-wise, as I told Coach before the game, personnel-wise I think they’re as good as they’ve been. Those guards are playing so much better this year than last year and that front line is as good as any in the country. And he’s as good of a coach as any in the country. So if I had to bet where they’re going to be at the end of the year, they’re going to be right there”

EXTRA POINT:  Tom Izzo fighting to be angry.

Tom Izzo is trying hard to not let this team become complacent or even remotely believing what the press and fans are saying.  But even he is fighting to be angry with the way they are winning.  He said nearly as much.

“I just keep hammering on the mistakes we’re making because those are like lazy, mental mistakes and maybe, I think, it was even you that asked me this and it bothered me when you asked it, not that you asked it, it bothered me that you should never have to coach effort. That should be a given. You shouldn’t have to coach it, but there is, you know, this is kind of new territory for a lot of us. I don’t’ think for me totally, but definitely for them. I mean, Miles (Bridges) has never been through this. Cassius (Winston) has never been through this. We were barely favored in our Green-White game last year.”

He went on to add, “You know, it’s somewhat true, and so you’re right. We’re, you know, that’s my job, but it’s not my job just to pick apart. I think you guys are agreeing that some of these things are not good, you know, and we have to build control. You know, is it because we’re not focusing in enough when things go well and get off to starts, maybe, you know, I just hate to be that way. I want to be different, you know? I gave them a sheet of about 10 teams that have been upset in the last two weeks. You know, and last night, you know Carolina goes down but Louisville probably should’ve and somebody else, Tennessee probably should’ve. Still our motto is let’s be different than everybody, you know, which means can we stay focused in all kinds of games?”

Izzo continued, “We haven’t proven that total and I say that we won by 40 points two games and I think that Dan’s team is a lot better, but we still are shooting. We shot 60 percent in both games. We’ve shot in the high 40’s. We’ve shoot 80 something from the free throw line. There’s all those assists, those are a lot of positive things I just think that the turnovers and at one time they were shooting 44 from the 3. They cooled off at the end, but we didn’t. The first 3 of the game you know, we knew 11 was going to shoot it right away and just weren’t up on him. So, are we losing a little focus? Maybe, it’s been a grind for these guys too though. I mean you come off finals, you know you can say the same for everybody, but everybody doesn’t have this bullseye on their back that we have too.”

He finished by saying, “If you add all those things together, I guess if you were to ask me where do you want to be at Christmas? Would you like to be winning games by an average of 20 points a game and who you played and can you be 12-1? I think I’d have taken that. Plus, I’m seeing improvement. I mean Miles has definitely a lot better than he was two weeks ago. Nick is a lot, lot better than he was two weeks ago. Cassius played so well, maybe not quite as well in these past couple of games, but I think tonight a little bit the knee. You know Josh and McQuaid coming back is big for us and the bigs. You know we’re just going to be rotating guys in there and somebody’s going to have a good night as far as X (Xavier Tillman) or Gavin (Schilling) or even Ben will come back. We’ll get Ben back in there. I said it’d be Christmas and that’s what it is and we’ll see what we can do.”

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