Thursday, December 2, 2021

Spartans treading unfamiliar waters

January 10, 2002
Sophomore guard Marcus Taylor shoots over Oakland forward Dan Champagne in a win earlier this season over the Golden Grizzlies at Breslin Center. —

Bloomington, Ind. - The No. 25 MSU men’s basketball hasn’t lost three games in a row since 1997.

That’s why junior forward Al Anagonye said the Spartan’s recent three game skid was a big blow.

“Three losses in a row, you’re looking at history,” Anagonye said. “Have you seen Michigan State lose like that in a long time?

“You don’t need a loss for a wake-up call, that’s ridiculous.”

MSU never got the hint after its Jan. 5, 70-67 loss to Minnesota, sophomore guard Marcus Taylor said.

“It’s a little too late for a wake-up call,” Taylor said. “The first (Big Ten loss) should of been a wake-up call, we just have to make sure we respond to this one.”

Hitting rock bottom puts the Spartans in danger of falling out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in 71 weeks, the third best active streak behind Duke and Stanford.

Losing ground in the polls, and on the court, isn’t the only thing the Spartans are having a hard time comprehending. The lack of intensity displayed in Tuesday’s 83-65 loss at Indiana is unbelievable, Taylor said.

“I’m used to winning, and the guys around here are used to winning,” Taylor said after the loss. “That’s kind of a shocker to everybody.

“Everyone around the country talks about our toughness, but we definitely didn’t show it tonight.”

After making a name for itself winning on the road the last four years, MSU’s 0-6 road record is just as bewildering, Anagonye said.

“That’s what we were living on, being road warriors,” Anagonye said. “Unfortunately we’re pulling the opposite.”

One reason for MSU’s recent pitfalls is the NCAA five-and-eight scholarship rule. The rule prevents a team from signing more than five players in one year and eight players in two years.

Because of the rule, MSU is currently playing with only seven scholarship players - junior forward Adam Ballinger is on the injured list and former Spartans Jason Richardson and Zach Randolph left for the NBA prematurely.

Each player is responsible for working on their game individually, Anagonye said. He added that it’s important the Spartans hit the gym on their own time.

But playing Wisconsin Saturday at home, where the team has won 53 straight games, won’t solve anything, head coach Tom Izzo said.

“Playing in the Breslin Center is great,” Izzo said. “But if you don’t play hard you don’t win anywhere. Lets not fool ourselves and think going home will solve our problems.”


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