MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo long has used the anyone, any place, any time thought process when putting together his team’s schedule.
This season has been no different, as the No. 6 Spartans face another murderer’s row of nonconference opponents.
But after Saturday’s 74-39 win against Bowling Green at Breslin Center, Izzo said he is a little concerned with how the constant traveling to play big games is affecting his players.
“I’ve learned one thing,” Izzo said. “I might be the dumbest scheduler in America. My team is tired.”
In a span of 13 days, MSU played six games in three different states, including three games in three days at the Maui Invitational in Hawaii.
Of those six games, three were against ranked opponents, most notably against No. 1 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
It should be no surprise the Spartans’ schedule isn’t an easy one, but Izzo said he might consider what traveling can do to his team when he puts together his nonconference slate in the future.
“Getting home at three or four in the morning (from Duke), the Maui trip, is all just one big excuse,” Izzo said. “But I have to tell you, this time it’s a fact, and I deserve the blame for that.”
Less than three days after MSU returned from Duke early Thursday morning, the Spartans (6-2) were back on the floor against Bowling Green. The fatigue Izzo talked about was most noticeable in senior guard Kalin Lucas, who played only 15 minutes, took one shot and didn’t score.
“Poor guy is drained,” Izzo said of Lucas. “He asked not to play the second half. His foot was a little sore, but that wasn’t the problem. He was just wiped out.”
Lucas missed most of the offseason after rupturing his Achilles’ in the second round of last season’s NCAA Tournament. Early in the second half, Izzo said Lucas approached him and said he was too tired to finish the game.
After the game, Lucas, who said he hasn’t felt this tired since he first came to East Lansing in 2007, admitted his Achilles’ tendon was bothering him.
“Playing all those games in Maui, playing against Duke and playing a lot of minutes, it’s kind of sore,” Lucas said. “But I’m just trying to get better, make sure I’m ready for Syracuse.”
The Spartans will be back on the road again to take on the No. 8 Orange (8-0) on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It will be the second time in less than a week MSU will be
playing a top-10 team away from home.
Junior guard Korie Lucious said he had no complaints about the Spartans playing top teams throughout the country and that he and his teammates simply have to be smart about how they treat their bodies between games.
“It’s been hard, it wears on your body,” Lucious said.
“But we just have to take care of our bodies and do whatever we can to stay in good shape.”
Izzo said he would help his team, which he said is “lacking energy right now,” by giving the players some practice time off.
But as MSU prepares for games against Syracuse, No. 19 Texas and eventually a difficult Big Ten schedule, senior guard Durrell Summers said he and the Spartans will continue to work through whatever fatigue problems they might be having.
“We could use that as an excuse,” Summers said.
“But at the same time, we got to come out and be ready to play.”