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Some thoughts on the MSU basketball vs. Duke game

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That was as bad as it’ll get for a marquee home game

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah so I’ve got some thoughts on that Duke bloodbath.

Let’s just call that what it was – an embarrassment. How do you come out that woefully unprepared for the biggest home game on the schedule? Letting Vernon Carey do whatever he wants, until we finally tried a double-team when it was an 18-point game. Lazy, lazy, lazy passes. Missing wide-open shots – free throws included. One team came to play. The other one was Michigan State.

It’s time to start looking at issues that have turned this team into a No. 1 team to a team that looks like it’ll have to fight to make a second weekend in the NCAA Tournament:

  • There’s no backup point guard. I really thought Foster Loyer was going to be a solid player. I really thought he could bounce forward this season and be a difference maker. But man...I mean, we all see what’s going on. This just simply isn’t working and there’s been close to zero progress made on this front over the last year. It pains me to say this — I’m a big Loyer fan ever since he was cooking people at Clarkston — but this is a glaring issue.
  • Let’s talk about Rocket. This...hasn’t been a banner start to the star recruit’s career. I know there’s growing pains with freshmen, but how many times do you have to have a ho-hum attempt at a layup stuffed at the rim to realize that doesn’t work at this level? Or how many open shots have to be missed and bad turnovers committed before we cut back on this experiment? I’m sorry – I’m sure he will be a good player here and his defense has been solid so far – but right now 27.4 percent shooting isn’t cutting it. He came here as a scorer and he just can’t score reliably. Seems like a problem.

Maybe try Henry at the two and slide Gabe Brown in at the three? I don’t know, just give us something that puts five solid players on the court. And that includes not having Henry ride pine and getting Brown on the court as much as possible.

  • To start the season we all, myself included, just kept telling ourselves “oh, these shots will start falling eventually.” Alright...they’re not. And at what point do you start wondering if they won’t start falling and this just isn’t a good shooting team? For me, it’s now.

32.9 percent shooting from three so far this season. It’s not end-of-the-world bad, but it’s certainly not good.

  • We have no true five that can shut down the paint. Yeah, MSU isn’t going to face a Vernon Carey every game, but it just looked effortless from him. It looked like coach vs. player at a Under-10 youth basketball camp. You run into a guy in the Big Ten like Maryland’s Jalen Smith or Michigan’s John Teske, we could have a bad time again.

And Duke deserves credit, no doubt. They made some crazy shots intertwined with their ~600 dunks. That doesn’t absolve MSU of missing a gaggle of their open shots or going 4/16 from downtown. Like, just make a few of those and it’s a different game.

What else bothers me is that, to be honest, this isn’t some extraordinary Duke team. Cassius Stanley was out. Wendall Moore has been a non-factor for them this season. Just contain Tre Jones and Vernon Carey and you should be good. Well...they didn’t contain either and they let other guys like Javin DeLaurier and Joey Baker score in double figures.

The officiating was absolutely awful, but do you know what other games the refs are awful in? Every single other one. College officiating is atrocious and, I cannot state this enough, not the reason MSU lost. If it was a 2-4 point game? Sure, I’ll have that conversation. But this game was a boat race from the middle of the first half and beyond.

HEY LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME POSITIVES.

This upcoming stretch to close out 2019 is coming at a great time.

Five home games (yes, that game in Evanston might as well be a home game. Shoutout to our Chicago Spartans) against not-the-greatest competition. Perfect time for Tom Izzo to iron some wrinkles out.

That Draymond Green jersey retirement was awesome. All the family, friends and Warriors that came out. His speech. Watching his No. 23 rightfully be sent to the same rafters his Final Four and Big Ten banners hang. It was a great moment.

Alright, Go Green.