All I've got left is bulletpoints:
- The MSU bench tonight: 39 minutes, 2 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 turnovers. This is a five-man team right now. Even Bo Ryan can't win that way.
- Tom Izzo went with my keep-Draymond-at-the-4 strategy, but I hardly feel vindicated. Kebler and Thornton brought nothing offensively, and Green couldn't get the ball in good positions to score either (9 points on 8 FGA and just 1 FTA). After Jordan Morgan got in foul trouble in the fist half, Beilein went small and dared MSU not to follow suit. Advantage Beilein.
- Izzo decided, I assume, that going big would create too large a disadvantage defensively against the UM shooters, while the MSU bigs wouldn't be able to take advantage of the mismatches in the low post consistently on the other end. I'm inclined to agree with that judgment.
Only thing that can come close to qualifying as a silver lining: Kalin Lucas looked quite a bit "back." 27 points on 18 FGA. Scored from all over the court. Glued himself to his man defensively up and down the court, to the point he had to ask out of the game at one point from pure exhaustion. Almost single-handedly willed the team to the comeback win.
- I loved the hyper-aggressive defense that helped spark the late comeback, but the players also have to know when and when not to reach in for or charge after the ball. Summers' two early fouls hurt quite a bit; he never got back into a rhythm in the second half after coming out with great energy early (he did finish with 10 rebounds). And the team was lucky to keep Green and Roe on the court until the end, with both of them picking up their fourth fouls on overly-aggressive defensive plays with close to 10 minutes left. Probably an unfair complaint, all things considered, though. Again, you can't expect to win a basketball game with five players.
- Ed Hightower sucks. But you can't blame the officiating for this one. If anything, I thought MSU got the benefit of the doubt in terms of how much they were allowed to body up on UM ball-handlers on the perimeter in the second half.
- Credit to Zack Novak. He came out firing and he didn't miss many: 6-8 from three. Darius Morris played very, very well, too. I thought Appling, Lucas, and Roe guarded him pretty darn well and he still scored 17 points on 7-10 shooting, to go with 8 assists.
- Team stats: The rebounding and turnover numbers were basically even (MSU came out slightly ahead in both areas). So it all came down to shooting. 10-21 from behind the arc for the Wolverines. 5-19 for the Spartans. Ballgame.
Pre-emptive stern lecture (having not looked at any of the comments in the previous two threads): This isn't about a lack of "heart" or "leadership." The team hustled the heck out of it--the starters in particular. And you can't lead much more than Lucas did tonight. It's about a lack of depth and offensive rhythm. Complain about Korie Lucious not doing what it took to stay on the team. Complain about the inability to develop the low-post guys off the bench. But don't think the team isn't exerting full effort out there.
Don't get me wrong, despondency is absolutely the right reaction. But let's be despondent about the right things.
The streak is dead. The Wolverines fully earned this one.
All that optimism I manufactured after the Purdue loss is gone. The future is, at best, a complete mystery.