Spartans Need Impressive Tournament Run to Salvage a Season with such High Hopes

Publish date:

The Spartans have only themselves to blame for Big Ten season and tournament disappointments! There I said it.

As I watched in person the Iowa and Penn State losses, and watched courtside the Wisconsin game at the Big Ten tournament I was horrified. This was a team that came off of Tom Izzo’s best coaching job last season infused with a boatload of fresh talent and a pre-season All American. Izzo started the season by declaring, “It feels nice to be back considered among those with a fighting chance, and certainly my expectations are as high or higher than anyone’s in the country.” I agreed with him then, and I agreed with him after the Wisconsin loss when he said that his team was good enough to win it.

The Spartan faithful have sat by and watched a pre-season prediction of Big Ten dominance only falter into a Big Time disappointment and the tournament followed the same script.

Again, Tom Izzo said at his post game press conference that he felt his Spartans were good enough to win it. I agree. In fact they should have. Two things perplex me. First of all, being there in person for so many of their games you can’t deny that the quality of officiating in the Big Ten is horrendous. Speaking to people from multiple Big Ten teams in Indianapolis, the discussing was about how bad it has been all season for all teams. The second thing is that people are actually blaming MSU losses on that. Let me make this clear, and I am ready for the email calling for the permanent revocation of my “Spartan Card” (thanks to Tom ***NOT IZZO, THIS TOM IS FROM PLYMOUTH ***who emails every time I say anything critical calling for it to be taken) for saying it. The officiating for the Wisconsin game was terrible…against both teams and it had NOTHING to do with why the Spartans lost.

The Spartans lost that game. Come on people, excuses are worthless and my overflowing inbox is full of people telling me about this supposed conspiracy. I agree with you that the officiating is bad and I agree that it stinks in the Big Ten. I also agree that Hightower never hit a three for the Badgers or actually made a play. The Badgers did that. Did the official tip off Flowers that a bad pass was coming so he could steal it and make the go ahead lay up?Â

Last year I ripped the Badgers (read Ryan) for being classless in their win against the Spartans. This time I have to say that some of the Spartan fans are acting the same. Give the Badgers their due. They may not have as much talent as MSU, but they are the better team. They took our regular season and tournament title that we felt was destined for the trophy case. I was disgusted with the officiating, but you can’t deny that the Spartans were the beneficiaries of more than one bad call on Friday and even some on Saturday.

The real story is how can this team with such high hopes and expectations give up a 12-point lead in the second half? Something they have done all season. I don’t blame Izzo for being upset. He hasn’t loved a player since Mateen like he does Neitzel, and he hurts when those expectations aren’t reached for Drew and he and his team.  The sad part was that Neitzel carried this team, but against a team that plays as well as the Badgers, he couldn’t do it without more support than Walton and Lucas.

This team should have won the Big Ten regular season, and a tournament win could have gone a long way to wash that acidic taste of failure out of our mouths. Now it only hurts worse. Izzo’s comments about being good enough to win it are true and it only lends to the frustration that the Spartan Nation feels.

Now the Spartans head west. They play a tough Temple team and a tired, but albeit great team in Pittsburgh. Can they win them both? Sure they can. Is there anyone in their way to a final four berth that they can’t beat? Nope! Will they do it? Who knows?

This team was described best tonight (not by me) when they were called schizophrenic. This team has admittedly disappointed the Spartan Nation and themselves this season. Something that can only be erased with a long tournament run and a final four berth. There are no excuses for this team to not hang a banner. Izzo has told the Spartan Nation that hanging a banner is the way to judge the success of his teams. I disagreed last year and called getting to the tournament his best coaching job.Â

They started the season with the expectations (declared by them) of hanging a banner. They had four chances to earn a banner this season: 1) Win a Big Ten regular season title, 2) Win the Big Ten tournament, 3) Make it to the Final Four, or 4) Win a National title. The Spartans talked about all four when the season started and people agreed that they had the ability to do it. They haven’t. The refs have been bad, but they have been that way to all of the teams.Â

The Spartans have one last chance to save a season that started with so much promise, but has left not only Tom and the team in tears, but the faithful also. That is in the Big Dance. This is when Izzo shines and is considered around the nation as one of the best when it comes to dancing.

This team can do it. This team should do it. If they do or don’t I can tell you this one thing: It won’t be the refs fault. They will earn it or not. Just like the regular season and just like the tournament. If the Spartan Nation likes or doesn’t like the results, they need only look in the mirror.

The refs have been horrendous; no one disputes that. They have also been horrendous to everyone. If you know that you have a ref that calls a game tight, you have to adjust. If you know he lets you play, you adjust. You aren’t going to change them. Both teams play in the same conditions. 
A reporter once asked Randy Walker after a loss about heavy rain and he cut them off and said, “Did one team play in the rain and the other get sunshine when they got the ball? Excuses are for losers. Both teams play in the same conditions.” Spartan Nation, excuses are for losers. We aren’t that. No excuses. If we win we earned it, and if we lose we earned it. Stop the whining and just win!