If you have watched Michigan State basketball recently you will notice a disturbing trend. In recent games versus lesser opponents, the Spartans have played awful basketball. This has allowed these lesser opponents to stay in games and in a few instances, almost pull out wins. Now the Spartans are notoriously slow starters, but that doesn’t excuse the way they’ve been playing. If the Spartans don’t improve, and quickly, these unnecessary close games will have a negative effect later in the season.
These games are supposed to be blowouts. 20 to 40 points should be the margin of victory. Izzo should be able to play everybody and the starters shouldn’t play major minutes. These games should be used to rest the key players
on the team. You don’t want Keith Appling playing 40 minutes against Louisiana-Lafayette. When it comes time in March, you want your team as rested as possible. The other thing that is worrying about these close calls, is that it’s clear the Spartans are playing to their competition. The Spartans clearly have the talent to win against elite teams, but when they play the lower-tier opponents they refuse to get into top gear. Whether Izzo isn’t getting them prepared or it’s simply a mental block, it needs to be corrected. This won’t fly in the Big Ten. The lesser Big Ten teams, if given these opportunities, will be able to take advantage. And with a strong Big Ten this year, the Spartans will need as many wins as possible. Also, come tournament time, playing to the competition is the perfect way to get upset. If the Spartans get used to not taking every opponent, it will have severe consequences down the road.
The Spartans need to play better when Big Ten play starts, plain and simple. If not they will struggle to realize their potential. Whether it’s Izzo or the players, something in the locker room needs to change to make sure the Spartans handle their business the right way.