That was bad. Really bad. PAINFULLY bad. And I'm not just talking about the injury to Kalin Lucas.
The Spartan effort against the Badgers last night was nothing short of, well--lame. I spoke with a LOT of friends and fans before the game and everyone (including me) seemed to feel the same way--that the odds of MSU going undefeated in the Big Ten were slim, especially given that they never seem to play well at the Kohl Center or Mackey Arena and other venues, like Assembly Hall in Champaign, are always tough places to play. The vibe I got was that if a loss was going to happen, it was coming soon. And so it did.
As I said before, I'm cool with losing every once in awhile. I don't like it, but in a weird way it kind of takes the pressure off and can be a big wake-up call. What I don't like is losing the way they did--no energy, poor shot selection, what appeared to be a basic lack of effort. It didn't help that Wisconsin shot the lights out of the gym, but it was clear they wanted it more. Period. And it gets worse.
Reading some quotes from the game today, Korie Lucious (who my mother refers to as "a little fireball") talked about how the team "felt a loss coming." See below...
"I think we all did," guard Korie Lucious said. "In practice, we just haven't been bringing it like we should have and Coach has been telling us that for the last couple of days."
2 points for honesty, but...really!??! You are telling me that as a player, as a team, you walked into the Kohl Center thinking, "Well, we are probably going to lose anyway." ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!? I mean, as FANS we were trying to prepare for the worst to manage our own expectations, but not ONE SINGLE FAN I talked to said, "Oh they will lose." They said, "Oh they MIGHT lose, but they are good enough to win and they CAN win." Of COURSE you won't win with that attitude!!!!! How about saying, "Who cares what anyone thinks, we are winning this game." How about "We are going to focus on executing like we know we can." I am so disappointed by that attitude. That line of thinking doesn't get you to a Final Four. Did you say that last year when all the pundits picked you to lose to USC? Or Kansas? Or Louisville? Or UConn?? Something tells me that had they walked into those games with that attitude, they wouldn't have made it as far as they did.
It's bad enough that Kalin Lucas went down with a sprained ankle and we don't know how long he'll be down, but that mental mindset does not bode well. Here's hoping they can shake it off for Illinois.
And P.S.--For Steve Lavin (who I think is an awesome analyst), Brent Musberger and all the other media people out there...We get it. MSU never plays well at the Kohl Center. Bo Ryan owns Tom Izzo on his home court. We know. Trust us...we are WELL AWARE we haven't won there since 2001. It is not something we forget. You do not need to constantly remind us. Nor do you need to continue to pound it into our brain as MSU gets their tails handed to them. The memories come flooding back every time it happens. Thanks.