Saturday, October 16, 2021

Basketball looking for Breslin Center boost

January 11, 2002
Sophomore forward Adam Wolfe struggles for the ball with Seton Hall guard Darius Lane during the Spartans’ 68-64 win at the Breslin Center in December. —

After losing three road games in three weeks, the No. 25 Spartans finally return to Breslin Center on Saturday to take on Wisconsin.

A home game could be the catalyst MSU (9-6 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) needs to pull itself out of the Big Ten’s basement. The Spartans share last place with Northwestern after losing their first two conference games.

That’s why Saturday’s game is crucial to get MSU’s Big Ten season on track, head coach Tom Izzo said.

In previous seasons, Izzo has said no team with three conference losses can compete for the Big Ten title. However, with losses becoming commonplace, Izzo said this season may be an exception.

“I don’t want to say that I’m happy that everyone’s in the same boat, but I’m happy everyone’s in the same boat,” Izzo said. “It’s a little different league. I don’t think anyone’s shown they’re invincible.”

A win would extend MSU’s record home-court winning streak to 54 games. Wisconsin (8-8, 1-2) almost broke the streak last year when it pushed the Spartans to overtime, before falling 69-59.

“It would be a big shock to us, but we have enough pride not to let that happen,” said sophomore guard Marcus Taylor.

This time MSU won’t have to worry about Wisconsin’s grinding and fundamentally sound motion offenses.

That’s because first-year coach Bo Ryan has implemented a transition game into the Badgers’ arsenal.

Taylor said the new-look offense will add a new twist to the Badgers.

“I’m sure they’re going to come out with a different strategy, and I’m sure it works better,” Taylor said. “That’s why they changed it, but they might slow it down. So we have to be prepared for whatever they throw at us.”

Another loaded gun in Wisconsin’s arsenal is guard Kirk Penny, who is averaging 15.7 points through 16 games.

Freshman guard Tim Bograkos said MSU is only worried about containing Penny.

“He’s a great player. He’s got a lot of experience,” Bograkos said. “Being a veteran in the Big Ten, he knows how to play.

“I don’t think there’s any way to stop a player like that. It’s just a matter of containing him a little bit and holding him down.”

Izzo said he may experiment with a new lineup Saturday to combat the Badgers. Izzo said sophomore forward Adam Wolfe may return to the bench to create an offensive lift from the reserves.

“That would be the only major change we would make,” Izzo said. “I’m trying to bring him off the bench like we did with Morris (Peterson), to do a better job of keeping him fresher longer.”

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