Three Up OR Down:  #9 Michigan State Basketball After 19 Games

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

  1. DOWN Fast Break The Spartans and more importantly, Tom Izzo’s offense is predicated on getting the ball moving with the fast break. Whether it is after a rebound or a basket, Izzo wants the Spartans to run run run.  The Spartans haven’t been stopped by opponents from doing that, but they have stopped themselves.  Izzo thinks that is a major reason for their recent less than stellar play.  He said, “Teams definitely strategize against it, because it’s a big part of our offense, but usually if you keep pushing at them it breaks down. That’s how it worked before, that’s how we get it going a lot of times. That’s on us, we’ve got to keep pushing it at them.”
  2. DOWN Nick Ward In the Post More on this below, but Ward has the size and he just can’t let it happen. He is hurt because he has a reputation as a flopper (Izzo does not teach it, but he does do it) and is a big young man.  But no excuses he has to get deeper down in the paint.  Izzo said, “He’s getting pushed out and he’s getting the ball 16 feet from the basket.”
  3. DOWN Mental Miscues and Turnovers The Spartans are killing themselves. Against UM the Wolverines had 26 points off of Spartan turnovers.  MSU had seven off of the Wolverines miscues.  That alone was the difference in the game.  Izzo says bluntly, “I gotta get better play out of the guys I know they can play better, to be honest,”

EXTRA POINT:  Officiating and more importantly “Freedom of Movement.”

A few years ago the world of college basketball decided that they didn’t want any more physicality.  They wanted a hands-off play and they called it, “Freedom of movement.”  You may remember that Izzo bemoaned the change, but the Spartans adapted.  Now people are literally tackling Nick Ward and hugging him with no fouls.  I asked Izzo about that and he was careful with his criticism so he wouldn’t get fined:

“I’ve not been very pleased with it. I mean, I don’t think it was as bad as another game I’ve had but it wasn’t, there was a concerted effort. You know, I heard a great line today that they said on the NFL, they said the goal with Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) should be to hold him and foul him until they call it, because you ain’t going to stop him otherwise. It is funny, the freedom of movement thing. It’s almost a joke, and you know, and that’s where maybe when you’re a little bigger, you can get banged a little bit more, athletes that can run and move, but I have not been thrilled with that part of the game.”

 

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