Michigan State Spartans Look Sloppy and Lethargic In Victory over UALR that Left Izzo, "Disappointed."

Hondo S. Carpenter

11/20/11

Breslin Center

East Lansing, MI

When MSU schedules their alphabet soup portion of their schedule, Izzo prefers varying degrees of offenses and defenses. He does that so when he hits the Big Dance his Spartans have seen it all. So that no matter whom they face they have tape of them going against almost every scheme. It is a very good idea.

What he probably didn’t take into account when he scheduled UALR is that they would have a horrendous night shooting. It was their fifth game in ten days.  They had been in Michigan for five days, having played EMU earlier in the week. Unlike the bigger programs that charter and fly home, to save money they stayed in state. They were exhausted and it didn’t show in hustle, but it did with lethargic legs and their jump shooting.

You could credit the MSU D, and that certainly played a role, but they missed some bunnies. That isn’t good. MSU ended up holding them to 31.5% shooting for the evening.

You schedule these games so you can pressure your team. So you can see what they have prior to the start of the Big Ten season. Izzo said of the game afterwards, “I said we were going to have our ups and downs with this team. We took a major step backwards.”

Izzo has tried to play 11 players early to see what he had and he said of his choice, “I know I can’t go eleven deep on my bench, that’s for sure.”

I Tweeted during the game ( @HondoCarpenter ) that it is almost a shame that we just expect no matter the opponent or venue for Day Day to get a double double. I jinxed him, he didn’t. He ended with 10 boards and nine points.

As bad as UALR shot, Izzo wasn’t happy with his cagers. He was the most visibly upset as he has been all year. “We don’t get an offensive rebound in the first half of a game for the first time since I have been part of the program. Complete lack of energy.” He added, “Any of the effort related things tonight we failed.”

Austin Thornton, on a night the Spartans didn’t have a lot of energy, did. He scored 13 points, added six boards and two assists. Coach said of his senior, “Stats sometimes are misleading. I need him to be a leader, a captain, and he couldn’t buy a shot early. Stat wise he played good.” 

Thornton was even tougher than his coach. I asked of his performance and he told me, “We still have a lot of room for improvement. From defense to rebounds we need to improve.”

The Spartans were also unimpressive from the charity stripe. They shot only 25-41, a terrible 61%. That number will mean certain defeat when the schedule gets better, and it does Wednesday.

The amazing stat of the night was that MSU shot an abysmal 19% from three-point range. That is putrid for even a junior recreation kid’s league.

One name the Spartan Nation will for sure remember from the NBA is Joe Kleine. He was known as a great rebounder over his 15 year pro career so I asked him about this Spartan team. He is an assistant for UALR.

Izzo pride’s himself on the rebounding phase of the game (they beat UALR 40-36) and he told me that, “They are one of the best in the nation. They (MSU) take on the personality of the Coach (Izzo) and he is demanding that they rebound and holds them accountable.’

I asked the well-respected Kleine about his success and what makes a great rebounder. “You get some hits and give some hits. All of the great rebounders have those qualities. Just go get it and go after it. There really isn’t a lot of technique, it is pretty much deliver the first blow and get it.” That is a free lesson from one of the best rebounders.”

The Spartans next face Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Wednesday at 7 p.m. That game can be seen on BTN and is sure to be a tough test for the Spartans. If they play like they have the last two games, they could lose to a much better (than the last two opponents) UWM team.

A bright spot for me was the return of Wolverine recruit Austin Hatch to the Breslin Center. He was once again in the crowd supporting his best friend Russell Byrd. If you aren't aware of his horrific story PLEASE CLICK HERE. He told me that, "I won't let my dreams die," referring to his healing process and wearing the Maize and Blue of the Wolverines.  

I have known Hatch for years and I told him, "I can't wait to see you back here in those ugly colors and I promise to be your biggest fan when it happens." I was of course joking with the young man, but I meant it. For him, not Michigan. I can assure any Wolverines reading this that he is a Byrd fan, but remains true to the maize and blue. I would expect nothing less. If he does make it back I would hope the Spartan Nation would be big supporters of this truly remarkable young man.

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