MSU men's basketball struggles even when scripted
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After a 29-point embarrassment from in-state rivals University of Michigan, MSU not only tied the record for the largest margin of defeat under head coach Tom Izzo, but the Spartans started the game lazy and sloppy — even when they had a script.
It might not be Shakespeare, but Izzo said the team comes prepared to play with three or four offensive sets ready to go.
Whether it is a staggered screen for fifth-year senior guard Eron Harris, or a post-up by freshman forward Nick Ward, the script gives the team a general sense of direction to help start the game off strong.
The Spartans took their prepared script to battle, but it led to a catastrophic failure.
“They put a little bit of pressure on, we had some backdoor, we had some lob plays that we thought were wide open we just didn’t execute,” Izzo said. “We script our first four plays and we screwed up all four. We script them for two days, we script them the day of the game, we script them in the walkthrough and we screwed them all up.”
The first four possessions for MSU were: a missed shot from junior guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr., an offensive foul on freshman forward Miles Bridges, a turnover by freshman guard Cassius Winston and a missed jumper by Ward.
“We have to execute, especially the first few plays because they’re written down,” Bridges said. “After that we just have to go off with what coach tells us to do, but if we write down plays we have to execute and we didn’t.”
As a team, MSU turned the ball over 21 times, Winston with six and Bridges with five.
A season phenomenon — waiting until the last few seconds of the shot clock before starting a play — reared its ugly head. U-M’s defense forced four shot clock violations in the first half.
“That’s our focus,” Winston said. “You can do all you want before the game, but if you’re not ready to play when the ball tips off a lot of things can go wrong and from the jump. A lot of little things went wrong and it built up.”
MSU and U-M have now split the season series with one win apiece.
While MSU was riding a two-game winning streak, U-M was desperate to snap its two-game losing streak.
With the throbbing in the Crisler Center, MSU demonstrated another decline in its ever-changing roller coaster. A common theme for the Spartans this season has been the inability to continue momentum on the road.The trend has continued on the big stage.
“It’s us against the world and we just have to rally together, and today we didn’t rally together,” Winston said. “Usually we do a good job of rallying together, having each other’s back, pushing through adversity, but today we just didn’t.”
Although Izzo mentioned the lack of practice time in the beginning of the travel heavy schedule, the past few weeks have been nothing short of positive compliments about the team’s practices.
As the team slowly develops its identity, Izzo said translating practice to the game will be an important step.
“The last step you have to take to become a good team — a real good team — is can you take practice to a game,” Izzo said.
Against U-M, Izzo said, nothing carried over from practice.
The Spartans (14-10, 6-5 Big Ten) will host the University of Iowa (14-10, 6-5 Big Ten) on Feb. 11. The game is set to tipoff at 6 p.m. and will be televised on Big Ten Network.