Green Lenses Takes Izzo and the Pistons Under the Microscope

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Spartan Basketball: Ugh! Okay let me be the first to mention what everybody was whispering, and that is,… Tom Izzo was out-coached. Ouch, here come all the haters now. That notion angered me as well at first, until I realized, these people are right.

 

 It seems MSU has done everything they can to lose a Big Ten Championship the last seven years. They play down to the competition and/or have too many inconsistent trips on either end of the floor to be considered a legit contender for a Big Ten Title, let alone a Final Four

run at Ford Field. In fact, I almost feel foolish to have mentioned they were nearly world beaters after their victory over Minnesota.

 

Look, I am not Tom Izzo, I don’t have several Final Fours and a National Championship behind me. This team has more flaws, wrinkles, and blemishes that Madonna’s recently released shocking photos. I understand that the first time they beat Northwestern it was with a smaller lineup. Yet, the strength of this team is playing the bench, including the big guys, to outlast other teams at the end. If that is the way you attack the 1-3-1 defense, then even the hapless Wolverines will be sighing with relief as well down the road. That 1-3-1 with the traps on the side-lines could not be broken down efficiently enough because our smaller guys had trouble throwing the ball around the perimeter, as NU filled the passing lanes with hands and trapped on the side. Even if the zone is broken down, there has to be legitimate big men inside to make plays.

 

Nobody was down low that could get it done for the Spartans other than flashes from Goran Suton, and in Raymar Morgan’s defense, he was sick. Were Marquis Gray, Idong Ibok, and Delvon Roe all sick as well? Sure, you have to have smaller guards who can handle to break the defense down, but you also have to finish, and that often requires a big guy. Heck, even a fresh Austin Thornton or Isaiah Dahlman could have made the difference. The fact is, MSU has never been very good under Izzo when he plays a short bench.

 

Yet, the biggest problem was the guard play and the multitude of turnovers. I was really surprised that Korie Lucious and Chris Allen saw so much playing time when they have been struggling the past several games. Look, I know Izzo wants to get these guys going and get them out of their funk, but you have to win the game and remember you are playing for a title. Lucious had a horrible first half against Penn State and was sat most of the second half so they could pull out a victory there, and yet here he was getting extended minutes.

 

Allen has just been cold period. His last five games he has shot 9-36 from the field, and a woeful 3 of 24 from three-point land. Plus, he is not the world’s best ball handler, so he is actuality a liability when he is not hitting shots. In fact, you could make a legitimate case that MSU has been better on the floor when Allen has been on the bench the last seven or eight games. Still, these are young guys and they are still learning the game, they will get better and sometimes that is painful to watch. Oh, I am not forgetting Kalin Lucas either; he wasn’t on his game either, especially passing the ball.

 

Therefore, the blame has to go to Izzo. When you start out of the gate at 5-0 and you realize that the team you are playing is on a roll, you better show up. A great win on the road against Minnesota has now been lost by a woeful loss to a more competitive, albeit, less talented team. NU was much more crisp and confident than the Spartans. In fact, it looked like the Wildcats were on their home floor and not the other way around.

 

Plus, can we knock off the notion that anything we say to critique this team or Izzo is sacrilege? Who knows, maybe this will motivate them to get it together. In fact, the problem is, everyone seems to be afraid to say anything because he had done so much for Spartan basketball and MSU, and perhaps, that is our biggest disservice to him of all. Oh, sure, their will be people that say Izzo didn’t shoot 1 for 11 from the field, and yet, that would be missing the point, because more disappointedly, Izzo stuck with the small line-up when it was obvious it wasn’t working, and NU had made adjustments from the last time they played them.

 

You’ll hear people say that NU brought their A+ game and we (MSU) didn’t play well, and yet, that story has a familiar refrain over the last seven years, now isn’t it? In fact, this has to be probably one of the most disappointing losses I can remember because they could have really opened up some breathing room in the Big Ten Title chase that has eluded them the last seven years. Instead, they have just given major motivation to the rest of the field who will now give MSU their best shot game in and game out down the stretch. If their  was a game MSU needed to win, it was this one, and they couldn’t get it done. Against a team that plays solid fundamental team basketball, you can’t turn the ball over, and that is exactly what the Spartans did. It does happen, life is not perfect, and sometimes, even a great coach is out-coached.

 

Piston Basketball: Allen Iverson says there is a chemistry problem on the team (roll eyes here). No kidding, can that really be happening? Now Rip Hamilton is going to find his way to the bench as the Pistons continue to struggle. Is it just me or is Coach Curry in a little bit over his head right now, including late game adjustments? Seems like Joe Dumars has struggled with some of his moves the last few years as well.

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