New, Notes, Prediction and the Latest on the Spartans From Here in Spokane!

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Spokane, WA


In the tournament the Spartans Head Coach Tom Izzo is simply the best in the nation.  Photo courtesy of Greg Martin.

In the tournament the Spartans Head Coach Tom Izzo is simply the best in the nation. Photo courtesy of Greg Martin.

MSU vs. Maryland: Scouting Report, Prediction and the Latest Information from Here in Spokane…


The Spartans understand that no matter what they do to Vasquez, the Terps great point guard is going t have his points. The secret is not allowing him to make his other teammates better. Being able to stop him from making others great is the biggest key to this game.


Kalin Lucas will play. He told me that he is, “100% for sure,” and although Izzo concurs that he will play he was not as supportive of the 100% statement.


Chris Allen also told me that he was certain he would play. His foot was in a protective boot yesterday and he didn’t practice. He has a strained arch. It isn’t like an ankle that they can tape or a foot. Izzo described it as almost, “Hidden,” because of where it is located. Allen told me that boot was, “Cautionary,” and that he would, “Definitely play and be about 70%.” That is the latest. Izzo believes that he won’t know until actual game time. 


I will be courtside with a running game thread on our message board the Phalanx Forum, join us there for literally up to the second information. Just click on the Phalanx Forum ICON on the right.


Durrell Summers understands that Maryland has a lot more weapons than just Vasquez. He knows that defensively his D is more critical for this game than any all season. “I have to be aggressive on defense and play hard,” was how he equated what he has to do today.


Delvon Roe was excited for this match up and without being cocky relished this game.  “We have length that maybe they don’t have and more athletes and depth. We have to play great, but you have to play great every night in the Big Ten. Jordan Williams needs to get bodies on him and length and we can do this.”


Korie Lucious after watching film said, “We have to execute. They are a very good team, but so are we. I think that this game is about MSU executing and doing things well more than them. We have to think defense first and we will be all right.”


Having known Travis Walton and known him well, watching his metamorphosis this season from player to coach has been to be frank, fun. He was emphatic with the guys that, “This is a big moment and a big game. This is where the Spartans before made this programs name. This game.” I love his fire.


After watching Utah State frankly not have the ability to stop Jordan Williams against Utah State, Draymond Green echoed Delvon Roe and my thoughts on success. “Vasquez now is going to do what he do, I just have to make it my personal mission and anyone else to keep a body on Williams. We know how to check and play defense and maybe he hasn’t had a lot of what we will give him.” 


If any of my interviews with the team and players told me much it was Green. He is always on fire and always inspirational, but I think he was shall we say perturbed at the attention Maryland was getting and not MSU. I have never seen him so fired up to play one man like he seemed with Williams. That can’t be good for Williams.


Every game it seems all season we have talked about what MSU needs to do to the opposing team. Unlike any other I think it is time for MSU to do what they do. 


I mentioned to Mike Garland that I think all of the talk about Maryland and what they do is almost over kill. I think the Spartans have to do what they do and worry about imposing their will and they will be all right. Garland agreed with me emphatically, “Exactly.”


If you remember last season the Spartans most difficult game (other than UNC in the championship) was a second round tilt with USC. Izzo has said it and having personally been present for it, I can attest to it. I predicted the Spartans to make the Final Four this year prior to this tournament because I was not sold that Kansas could put it all together under pressure with the team they have.


I am in no way saying I predicted or expected a NIU win, I just wasn’t sold on Kansas. This Maryland game could be the toughest until the Spartans get a rematch with OSU in the elite eight should they win.


I expected this game prior to the injuries to be a one point Spartans win. I have no concerns about Lucas, but with Allen either not playing or limited I thought Maryland by one. Last night while I was in Idaho and Montana I had time to think a lot and I can’t get away from one critical point.


Some think that the Kansas loss doesn’t help MSU. They have been emotional and fragile this season and does that have them looking ahead? The same could be questioned about Maryland who doesn’t have the advantage of a long tournament run last season and know what it takes? Izzo will use the Kansas loss as a carrot to a footprint. It makes a clearer pathway to wash away the talk of a season of inconsistency, distractions and issues.


Here is my X factor. There is no greater motivator and tournament coach then Tom Izzo. No one. Period. He harps constantly to his teams, “You get me past the first day and I will get you by the second.” The Kansas loss and Allen’s injury tell you something. His team also played their best basketball of the last two years in the first half against NMSU. Could the second half have scared them? Because of Izzo and how evenly matched these two teams are I say make it MSU 62 and Maryland 61.