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MSU Basketball News and Notes


This team has to set aside all of their personal agendas and issues and just win baby.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

This team has to set aside all of their personal agendas and issues and just win baby. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.



As the Spartan Nation searches for answers to why this season has tanked, sometimes they are looking deeper than they should. Teams, organizations, families, they all have issues. The good ones can overcome them.


In the past if teams didn’t like Izzo they could rally together as a unit. If they didn’t like each other they could rally around their pride and will to win. This group struggles in every area. On the court, off it and they haven’t been able to make winning what matters.


If you think the struggles of the program started this year or last you are wrong. They have been building. They are just now out where the public can see them.


I know this isn’t popular, but it is true. Izzo has to take a long hard look at his staff at the end of the year. I like his three assistants. He IS NOT getting out of them collectively what he should. I will be STUNNED if all three return. I don’t in anyway expect all three to go, but there will be changes.


A staff can let a coach down in a lot of ways. 95% of their value is not during the games when most people see them. It is player development. It is recruiting, not as hard on an Izzo staff where he actually goes out, whereas Izzo was the recruiter for Jud. There are also things that a staff does I won’t get into now, but suffice to say Izzo has to get some new blood and I am sure he knows that. I personally like the staff; it isn’t personal, it is about the program. Tom has needed to make changes for some time and his loyalty has hurt him.

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This team was competitive at least when Korie Lucious was on it. They haven’t been since he got the boot. They still can be, but this team took his suspension hard. Forget Lucious’s poor shooting percentage. His presence (or lack thereof) hurts this group. Not everyone liked him (most did), but even the couple he wasn’t tight with knew his spot and they were congenial. You take away his minutes and his presence from a group of young men who loved him and that hurts.


I am friends with Korie and his mother Latonia. Great people. Stay away from Iowa State Korie; this is a great opportunity for a new start, NEW being the keyword.


Russell Byrd has his coaches and teammates drooling. His loss was monster this year. Izzo had counted on him playing, but when they had to redo his surgery the season was officially over. One person in the program told me recently, “He didn’t miss a shot in three days.” That is yet again another of the issues that this program has had to endure this year that the average person doesn’t think about.


Don’t let Byrd’s aw shucks Richie Cunningham appearance fool you. He is a tough, hard nose player. He loves competition and the fire of Izzo drives him. He is the best pure shooter I have seen since Glenn Rice. If he can maintain a commitment to defense, he could be great.

It is nice to see what Derrick Nix is doing. Some players need to play through mistakes. It is great to see Izzo giving him that rope. Nix was a superstar high school player who had a tough time adjusting to Izzo. It is still a developing thing, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. I am still shocked that Izzo hasn’t given Sherman more room to do this. It’s time Tom.


I have watched a lot of players ignore Tom Izzo before. Anyone else remember Neitzel in the tournament in Texas against Memphis? What we are seeing this year is whole units of guys. This team has to reconnect and I have my doubts if they can this year. This took more than a season to get this bad, not sure six weeks can fix it.


I have said for many years that Tom Izzo is judged at the end of each season. He has earned that. The same is true this year. There are NO doubts this team is in bad shape, but no Spartan fan can give up or call it quits yet. Izzo has earned being judged at the end…a win at Wiscy won’t fix it, but it sure can release some of the pressure. See you all in Madison.