Spartans Look to Avoid Slow Start in Madison
When the Spartans tip off tonight at 9 PM at the Kohl Center the slow starts that have plagued them all year will have to be on their mind.
â€œI donâ€™t know why.Â Itâ€™s frustrating, but we have to play through it,â€ was how Kalin Lucas described the starts that have dogged his team all year.Â â€œI canâ€™t really put a finger on why we have, but we just need to keep playing great defense and fight our way out of it.Â It would be nice to just start strong shooting,â€ was Delvon Roeâ€™s thoughts.
Tonight in Madison the considerably more athletic Spartans will take on a very well coached Wisconsin team that would love to see a 54-53 game and not a 81-79 game.Â Draymond Green is without a doubt the voice of this team and he too is frustrated with his teamâ€™s slow starts, â€œIt aggravating and itâ€™s annoying.Â I donâ€™t really care why they happen, I just want them to stop.â€
The fact that the Spartans have been able to overcome slow starts to rise to #5 in the nation and a perfect 9-0 in league play isnâ€™t a shock if you are around the team as I am.Â This team is resilient and tough.Â Their hard-nosed blue-collar defense has helped when their shots werenâ€™t falling.
â€œYes and no.Â I am shocked and not shocked that we have our record with our slow starts,â€ was how assistant coach Mike Garland described his team.Â â€œWe're defending well enough and more importantly long enough until we can get in some type of a rhythm.Â We just need to pick it up with some early transition baskets to fix this.â€
I caught up after practice this week with another Izzo assistant in Dwayne Stephens who echoed Garlandâ€™s thoughts.Â â€œWe know we have a good team.Â We just have to make some early shots.Â The biggest fact is the way we defend we can play with anyone.â€
I agree with both and the Spartan defense gets the most credit for their success this year.Â â€œMost players take pride in their scoring and I think this year this team has just decided to take pride in our defense, I know that I have and others have and that is what has kept us going when shots werenâ€™t,â€ was rising defensive star Chris Allenâ€™s thoughts on the slow starts.
One thing is certain, this will be the toughest test tonight so far this season and tough defense and those transition basketball will be a tell tale sign for the Spartans.Â Buckle your seat belts; this one should be a good one.