The Seniorsâ€™ Moment to Return to Form
Did they want to come back, or did they have to come back?Â Thatâ€™s the question that many in the Spartan Nation have asked this season about Seniors Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers.
â€œI know one thing, it wasnâ€™t pushed on me,â€ Tom Izzo told Spartan Nation earlier this week.Â â€œIn other words, I didnâ€™t sit there and beg them to come back or beg them to go...they didnâ€™t talk about it much.â€Â To be fair, Izzo had a busy off season, players and coaches might not interact as much during the summer, and not every Spartan who has ever considered leaving early has kept Izzo completely informed during their process.
â€œI donâ€™t know if he (Lucas) wouldâ€™ve come back or not wouldâ€™ve come back, with his injury,â€ Izzo said about the Spartansâ€™ floor leader.Â During last seasonâ€™s off season, Lucas admitted he might have put his name in the mix for the NBA Draft (not a definite commitment to leave College) had he not blown his Achilles against Maryland in the 2nd Round of last yearâ€™s Dance.Â â€œIt wasnâ€™t like he was talking about leaving before that,â€ Izzo insisted.Â Yet, Izzo does concede that without the injury, he might have even encouraged Lucas to throw his name out there.Â â€œI think a lot of people thought Kalin wouldâ€™ve at least entered his name, which I think he wouldâ€™ve, and I maybe wouldâ€™ve advised him to.â€
After Summersâ€™ outstanding run through the one-point loss in the National Semi-Final, he had a decision to make as well.Â The concern with Summers was, and still is, whether or not he can â€œbring itâ€ on a night-in-night-out basis.Â Conventional wisdom suggests the Detroit native had to come back in order to establish that trait before an NBA team would burn a selection on him during the brief two-round Draft.
â€œIn Summersâ€™ case, he couldâ€™ve gone if thatâ€™s what he wanted to do,â€ Izzo contends.Â But that doesnâ€™t seem to make complete sense.Â Summersâ€™ NBA stock was probably never higher than it was last Spring.Â Itâ€™s hard to believe that he wouldâ€™ve come back with his best shot at being drafted in the NBA on the line.Â But then again, Izzo insists that Summers chose to return.Â â€œI donâ€™t think he had to come back.â€
To me, it appears Lucas and Summers had to return for their Senior seasons more than they wanted to.Â The topic remains open for debate, and also open for these highly decorated Seniors to make their final statement on the matter.Â â€œI donâ€™t think this team has quit in any way,â€ Izzo maintains.Â â€œIâ€™m not asking them to do anything they havenâ€™t done before.â€Â Spartan Nation now hopes desperately that these two Seniors can do it one last time.
The Shadows of Lombardi Cross Over the Great Lake
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a unique place.Â In most of the other 49 American states, the â€œU Pâ€ is probably just as foreign as most foreign countries.Â For Tom Izzo (of Iron Mountain), a close proximity to the biggest coaching icon in American sports history has always served as inspiration.
â€œI grew up a big Vince Lombardi fan and Iâ€™m happy the Packers won,â€ Izzo began.Â And while on the topic of the Super Bowl, Izzo also spoke in praise of the approach and skills of the Pittsburgh Steelersâ€™ young Head Coach, Mike Tomlin.
Like this yearâ€™s Spartan Hoopsters, Lombardiâ€™s old team (Green Bay) wasnâ€™t even assured of making the playoffs late in the regular season.Â â€œIf you look at the Packers this year, I think at one time they were barely 8-6 and nobody thought theyâ€™d get in (unless) other teams would lose,â€ Izzo recalled.Â The Packers won 7 straight on their way to the Super Bowl title, and should serve as an example to any team in need of a late season push.
Izzo said that if Lombardi were to speak to his struggling Spartans right now, heâ€™d probably have a strong message, but joked it would not be one fit for â€œpublic radio.â€Â â€œI just think heâ€™d tell â€˜em, â€œhey, nobodyâ€™s going to get you out of it, youâ€™ve gotta work your way out of it,â€ and thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve gotta do,â€ Izzo explained.Â â€œFeeling sorry for yourself, or looking at all of the things that have happened are all facts, but they donâ€™t lead to how you can get yourself out of itâ€¦I think thatâ€™s the one thing he would say.â€
Izzo is in the midst of one of his roughest years as a Head Coach, but donâ€™t expect many around the Big Ten to feel sorry for the Conferenceâ€™s most decorated coach of the last 15 years.Â â€œNobody should give us any slack, and nobody should give us any excuses,â€ Izzo confessed.Â â€œMaybe his (Lombardi) spirit lives on, and hopefully we can find a way to right the ship down the stretchâ€¦I can see where people would think that this team has maybe given up hope, but trust me, thatâ€™s not the case.â€
Izzo reminded Spartan Nation that his teams have actually seen times like these before.Â â€œI look back at 2002-03, we needed to win 5 or 6 in a row at the end just to get in, and we did.â€Â If this team is going to pull off a similar feat, they must begin to recognize and accept that itâ€™s only going to come from within.Â â€œWeâ€™ve gotta get back on track, and weâ€™re the only ones that can do it.Â We donâ€™t need any help from anybody out there, nobodyâ€™s going to get us there, itâ€™s just going to be us.â€
The Spot Up 3: Three Quick Points to Ponder
- Last week I pointed out that MSUâ€™s Defense was 307th out of 346 teams in 3-Point Field Goal Percentage allowed.Â The Spartans began this week ranked 331st (38.6%).Â Somethingâ€™s gotta give between that current statistic and an NCAA Tournament selection.
- Big East teams were so horribly overrated going into last yearâ€™s Tournament that itâ€™s become hard to judge if theyâ€™re really any good here in 2011.Â There are six Big East teams ranked in the top 15 right now.Â Letâ€™s see if more than 3 make the second weekend of the Big Dance.Â If not, that conference will have flopped in embarrassment yet again down the stretch.
- I like the idea of NBA contraction, but I love the idea of an entire canceled season.
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