This Michigan State basketball team desperately needs Aaron Henry mentality

Jan 8, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard A.J. Hoggard (11) high fives
Jan 8, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard A.J. Hoggard (11) high fives / Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are in the final two weeks of the regular season and Michigan State basketball (unfortunately) finds itself in an all-too-familiar spot: on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Michigan State has been in this position for the past handful of seasons dating back to the 2020-21 season which was the year after COVID-19 took the NCAA Tournament away from Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. Everyone felt like that team had a serious run in it and a number of projections even had the Spartans winning it all.

But the following year was Aaron Henry's. He took over as the leader of the team and while the Spartans had their worst season in quite some time, Henry willed the 15-12 Spartans into the NCAA Tournament where they would eventually blow a big lead to UCLA and fall in the First Four game.

Henry's mindset in the final few weeks of the regular season really propelled this team from "there's no way this is a tourney team" to "firmly in the field" with wins over No. 5 Illinois, No. 4 Ohio State, and No. 2 Michigan. Three top-five wins to close the regular season in a two-week span was one of the most impressive runs in recent memory and it was because Henry was the leader the team needed.

When he spoke to the media after games, he had quotes like "I don't get tired. I don't have time to be tired." and "You don't applaud a fish for swimming."

Henry was the ultimate "put the team on my back" guy. He was a leader both with his play and vocally and the team really jumped into his backpack as he carried them to the NCAA Tournament in what felt like a lost season.

This year's team desperately needs that.

Sure, Michigan State is probably going to make the NCAA Tournament barring a massive meltdown in these final three games, but a sure thing was made a little more questionable after home losses to Iowa and Ohio State. Tom Izzo said that the leadership on the team this year hasn't been great and that needs to change in this final stretch of the regular season.

Someone like Malik Hall, AJ Hoggard, or Tyson Walker needs to step up and be that vocal and on-court leader that the team needs. The Spartans won't make a run without that.

It can't be walk-on Davis Smith being the vocal leader all the time.

If this team wants to live up to its potential at the most crucial time of the year, one of these seniors needs to step up and pull an Aaron Henry.