Three Up OR Down:  #4 Michigan State Basketball 17 Games In

Three up or down:  the three Parts of the #4 Michigan State basketball that are trending up or down now.

  1. UP Izzo’s Honesty Tom Izzo has always been brutally honest.  That is one thing, but he walked into the press room at Value City Arena and I saw a side of him that I had only seen once before and it was after the loss to Middles Tennessee State.  He lost his cool with only a few seconds left in the first half against Ohio State and he said, “I took the wind out of their sail.”  He added, “ It was a three, four-point game. Then they let me in the game and the game went to hell real quick.”  But Izzo isn’t afraid to bash superstars.   It was only a few years ago that some of Izzo most ardent critics AMONG the Spartan fanbase wondered if the game had passed him by.  If his in your face style as too much for today’s player.  He sure has made them look stupid.  But when he took the blame for the loss he wanted to make sure he wasn’t doing it to protect his players.  He said, “The way I abuse my guys in public, that ain’t happening,” he was telling the truth.  I love that about him.
  2. DOWN Decision Making Izzo’s technical was ill-timed, but his players played out off sync. More on why in the next point, but the Spartans have to make better decisions when in tough battles.  They made some poor choices at Rutgers but got back on track.  They made some poor choices against Duke and got beat.  It was the same versus Ohio State.  Cassius Winston said. “We weren’t making smart plays. We were helping when we shouldn’t have helped, or digging too low and letting them get opportunities that they just knocked down time and time again. We just weren’t solid enough on the defensive end.”
  3. UP Team Character After the game it was a Hall of Fame head coach taking the blame and all the players as well. To me, bigger than the loss was the character shown in the loss.  Longtime readers, followers, listeners or viewers no that I ridicule people (Michigan Fans) that always blame refs.  That is lazy.  But I can tell you going back and looking at the film there was AT LEAST thirteen blatantly missed calls that would have helped Michigan State in the first half ALONE.  Including Miles getting hit in the face and Nick Ward getting HUGGED, TWO ARMS around him and getting hit in the face.  I don’t blame Izzo for being angry or the players.  Izzo showed it, the players didn’t, but the character impressed me.  Izzo said. “There was nobody pouting, nobody just firing shots.”

EXTRA POINT:  Nick Ward’s Maturation

Nick Ward was getting mauled in that game.  It was an embarrassment to college basketball.  He had a career-low three points, but he did grab 10 boards. Ironically it was back there at Value City Arena last year where Ward had nine points and four rebounds and didn’t have a good attitude.  This time he did what he could do and kept his mouth shut.  The Spartan sophomore star is growing up.

Izzo agrees, “He was 10 times better than he was last year.  This year, it was us, last year, it was Nick. And that shows great maturity on Nick’s part.”  Izzo added, “Tonight, under a tough situation for him, I thought he handled it extremely well.”

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