Hondo S. Carpenter

Champaign, ILL

Assembly Hall

The Spartans lost here at Assembly Hall 71-62 tonight;  it wasn’t a shock.  Despite Izzo’s continued insistence that his team needs to play inside out rather than outside in, they continued not to. They haven’t done it this season despite Izzo’s consistent beating of the drum. The problem lies in their ability to recognize the need to go inside first and that they have to change their approach in order to be successful on the road.

Tom Izzo lamented, “I think Draymond Green said it best in our locker room, ‘We had some chances, but it is our job to make some shots.’” Izzo described his teams pathetic 37% shooting by saying, “I think Illinois made some tougher shots than we missed easier shots.”

Izzo was not as upset about his team’s failure to play inside and told me, “When you’re not shooting the ball well, people collapse on you.  I really thought we had good enough shots.”

Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber was generous to his friend Tom Izzo, but admitted when I asked about MSU’s failure to go inside, “Wisconsin beat us last week because they went inside on us.”

I asked the heart of the Illini, G Demetri McCamey about the Spartans continued outside shooting when they had success inside, “I wasn’t surprised at all, they want to shoot jump shots.” McCamey’s comments seem to echo Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban’s thoughts on MSU going to the air in the Capital One Bowl. He said that MSU was stubborn and would still try to run when Bama stopped it anyway.

Durrell Summers didn’t start after not wanting to go back into the Northwestern game this past weekend, but it wasn’t the reason MSU lost today. The Spartans frankly couldn’t hit a shot and stayed away from the inside. There is nothing wrong with being a jump shooting team. There is when you mirror Michigan from last year and can’t hit them.

This Spartan team continues to struggle. The Devil’s advocate would say that at 12-6 (4-2) the Spartans are just fine. Well the Devil’s advocate doesn’t play at MSU. That advocate doesn’t have perhaps (admittedly by Izzo) one of his most talented teams in Spartan history. That same advocate hasn’t reached Six Final Fours in 12 years.

The preseason #1 or #2 (depending on the polls) team is in a funk and with a date on the road against Purdue on Saturday the expectations for a quick turnaround are slim.

For now the Spartans fight. For now they endure. Somehow this team has to fight through the haze of a lack of confidence and confusion. Delvon Roe told me after the game, “This team has been to Final Fours; we know what to do.” I agree with Roe. The question is if they will do it?

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