Well, here we are. Waiting 10 – maybe even 11 – days until our Spartans hit the floor again.
After a disappointing weekend in the Big Ten Tournament, we have plenty of time to step back and look at the state of this team.
Now that the dust has settled in New York City and the emotions from Saturday’s loss have (mostly) faded away, we get to look at this team with a clear mind.
Do they still have what it takes to make it all the way? Will they fall victim to their own shortcomings and come back to East Lansing in the first weekend? Let’s look at both sides.
Glass Half Full
Maybe some people (raises hand) need to be reminded of a few basic but impressive facts.
For starters, this team is a 29-4 ball club. They just ended a 13-game win streak. A baker’s dozen! And how did they do it? With a record-setting interior defense, an offense that can hit the 3-ball pretty consistently and an array of players that can shine any given moment.
Another important fact? Oh, I don’t know, maybe the fact that two potential lottery picks are on this team will be helpful in the tournament. MSU essentially has two NBA players on the squad rolling into the tournament in Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson. Name the other teams that can say that. Duke…Kentucky…that’s it.
Cassius Winston is also a dynamic point guard that can create offense as well as anyone else in the country. Nick Ward can turn it on in the post any given day. Matt McQuaid’s 3-and-D off the bench will be vital. Xavier Tillman showed streaks of greatness in the Big Ten Tournament, and Gavin Schilling has plenty of tournament experience coming off the bench.
And – this just in – Tom Izzo is still the coach. Mr. March himself. You would be an absolute sucker to bet against him.
Glass Half Empty
To say there aren’t big concerns on the eve of win-or-go home time would be foolish.
Maybe the most glaring one is the team’s mentality. Too often during that 13-game win streak they coasted to start games and relied on talent alone to erase deficits against inferior teams. That won’t work in the Sweet 16. It might not even work in the round of 32, really.
This isn’t just an armchair blogger thinking this – assistant coach Dane Fife also sees the lack of fire too.
“…we’re still not a player-led team as much as we should be,” Fife said to Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal. “We’re still relying on coaches to motivate. We’ve got the pieces. We’re getting better.”
That’s…alarming. I could maybe understand that if it was January, but it’s now March and they couldn’t fix it against Michigan. Michigan! How does a team not mentally show up for that game?
It also doesn’t help that MSU likely played themselves out of a first round in Detroit. A home crowd atmosphere is needed to get this team going sometimes – just take that comeback win against Northwestern as an example.
Other concerns? Well, Josh Langford’s play has been pretty well-documented – and not in a good way. Tum Tum Nairn can be a leader and is fast, but he’s simply a liability on offense and allows defenses to sag all the way in the paint.
Where do your optimism on MSU basketball stand?
This poll is closed
Glass half full
Glass half empty