Horrendous doesn't even begin to describe the method of losses by this Michigan State basketball team this season.
Tuesday night was just the latest episode of "how the heck did they lose that?" and it was almost unfathomable that the Spartans coughed up a nine-point second-half lead against a very beatable Minnesota team with the energy just sucked from the crowd.
But the Spartans did just that.
In fact, Michigan State was one wide-open 3-pointer away from being up 12 with under 12 minutes to go, but a Tyson Walker injury and ensuing Tre Holloman miss led to a run by Minnesota which seemed to be the difference in the game. Couple that run with the 10 missed free throws on 17 attempts and you saw one of the most avoidable losses in recent memory take place.
As if the missed free throws and poor second-half rebounding weren't enough, the big man rotation was just awful -- again. Carson Cooper and Mady Sissoko played 19 minutes each while Jaxon Kohler played five minutes, Coen Carr only saw four minutes, and Xavier Booker basically went into the game for a couple of laps and came out three minutes later. Awful.
Mady just didn't have it on Tuesday night. He finished with six rebounds and a game-opening dunk, but he was -8 in the +/- category. Cooper didn't fare much better.
And yet Michigan State still seems to draw up plays to get the ball into the post to these two guys where they squander opportunities with poor shot selection or turnovers (two travels by Sissoko).
With these post struggles and poor minute allocations, one thing has become very clear: Tom Izzo has done a poor job of managing this roster in 2023-24.
Sure, he had to deal with Kohler being out for the first two months of the year and Booker was still trying to adjust to the pace and strength of Division 1 basketball, but he hasn't adjusted the rotations much -- if at all -- to Jaxon returning and Xavier being "10 times better" than he was a month ago. The rotations are simply just all Cooper and Mady and a minute or two of the others.
Plus, every time Carr seems to make a positive play happen on either end, he gets benched a minute later. How does that make sense? That has to kill Carr's confidence as a freshman.
And yet here we are in the middle of February with a 14-9 record and 4-5 losses in that column simply because Izzo has mismanaged the rotations and, even further back, avoided the transfer portal like the plague.
No, I don't know more than Izzo and I never will when it comes to hoops, but anyone who knows a lick about basketball will tell you that the struggles this year are on his own stubbornness.
It's time for him to swallow his pride and play the best guys.