Thursday, February 5, 2009

In Izzo We Trust

February 4, 2009

Minnesota vs. Michigan State

I don't know what Tom Izzo is saying to his players these days, but whatever it is clearly worked. After two lackluster performances at home, his team FINALLY showed up to defend their homecourt. Tonight's game was absolutely incredible and it actually left me feeling--dare I say it--SORRY for the poor Golden Gophers. It seemed that no matter what they did, it just wasn't enough. The cameras cut to Tubby Smith on the sidelines and I laughed at how this man, a national championship coach with years of wins and wisdom behind him, looked completely bewildered (as did his team on the court). It's no secret the Spartans have had their ups and downs this year--injury upon injury, inability to close out a game, lapses on defense, losses at home--but last night sent a clear message that no matter what the future holds, MSU won't leave quietly.

From the opening tip, Durrell Summers and company were all over the floor, grabbing loose balls, banging for rebounds, knocking down shots and looking like a team that will have no problems reaching the Final Four. Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying that Michigan State is a shoo-in in ANY sense of the word. But with a few more performances like that, it's hard not to at least consider it when filling out the office bracket.

I think the truest mark of a team is not the total in your wins and losses column, but rather the way they respond when challenged and knocked down. Every team, no matter how talented, will always have their ups and downs on the court--it's part of the beauty of the sport: the idea that on any given night, at any moment, 5 on 5, anything can happen. But it amazes me at the ease with which so many fans, analysts and observers are so quick to write off one team or another based on just a few games, especially early in the season. A team looks fantastic in December and they're automatically our national champion. A team drops an early loss to say, Maryland, and they're overrated (not like THAT happened this season. Oh wait....) Now, in the month of February, is when teams should be hitting their stride. In the days and weeks ahead, we'll find out if this MSU team is the real deal or just a flash in the pan.

1 comment:

  1. Wigs,

    Yes to you blogging about college basketball!!!

    Quick story. So "In Izzo We Trust" was the name of my fantasy basketball team this year. I use "was" because in a fit of cockyness and trash talk I claimed I would strip Izzo's name from my team names (I was The Izzone as champions of the league last year) and sure enough I managed to lose the week in rebounding. It was all a bunch of RUBBISH but whatever. I have Bosh, Troy Murphy (who is actually a top 5 rebounder), Okafur, LeBron, and Goose Biedrins. No way those guys on the front line lose in rebounding!? The guy I was playing had like John Salmons and Jeff Green who out of nowhere starting hitting the glass. Anyway, for the rest of the year I cannot have the word "Izzo" in my team name. FYI, for now it's team "Sim Sim Salabim" and yes you get a bonus point for naming the reference!

    Love the color scheme.

    This HAS been a frustrating team to watch. At times they look like one of the most well put together, deep, talented teams we've ever had. Then you watch those home losses to Northwestern and Penn State!?!? Wow. I can only attribute those losses from what I saw to lack of focus and teams shooting out of the gym. That's the thing about college bball. Teams can get hot and their execution looks flawless. That guy from Northwestern can't play. Cable guy or whatever his name is. What a stick white boy. I can't believe he'll ever play a game like that again.

    Coming into the Minnesota one could only hope the Spartans would show up to play!? If they lost to Penn and Northwestern, how do they beat a ranked Minnesota team!? It seems that they were ready for the Minnesota attack. Maybe that overrated #19 (they really aren't THAT good) sparked some fire for that much quizzical Spartans. I don't think they want to drop OUT of the rankings.

    This regular season dip seems to be characteristic of Izzo's program. For the last few years MSU hasn't been able to put together a regular Big 10 season or title since Charlie Bell left East Lansing!? That seems weird that a team with this much success hasn't won a big 10 title in 7-8 years!? It's crazy!?

    They always seem to lose focus and give away random games. Usually not at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, but hey like I said, this Spartan team is a different animal. What is it about these last few years (almost a decade) that has lead to these mind lapses. I'm sick of it! It's time for a Big 10 title. Sure, I'll trade tournament success for Big 10 success any day, but if MSU is the elite program I want them to be, why can't we have both?

    Now you've got your timing down Wigs! This is the time to get it together. It's the time for your blog!? It's the time for the Spartans to lock down and win some road games to make up for not protecting the Bres! And it's time to give the Izzone their money's worth and close out the home season. And the Big 10 tournament. And a Final Four run which we're definitely capable of. I want it all and I don't care how.

    One last topic I can't brush over. Durrell Summers!? Whoa. Where did this come from!? He's turning into a STUD! How dynamic is his game lately? Where did that three point ball come from!? I can't say that I saw this coming. I always associated him with an early Allan Anderson. He runs the court and makes athletic plays, but lately he reminds me of a guy I saw come to life when my dad bought a half season ticket set to the Bres in 1997. At the time this Sophomore was known more for his cast than his game. Yes, I'm talking about Morris Petersen. Summers is approaching those levels if he continues to rise and if he finds consistency. He leaps out of the gym. He really has been able to convert the three ball. He is in the zone! I hope it's not a zone and what we're seeing is a P.T.P. coming to life! Spartan fans can only hope as this is NO FLASH IN THE PAN baby!

    That's all! Keep up the good work!