Don’t Panic Yet, But You Should Be Concerned About MSU Basketball
Michigan State's men's basketball team is now 4-4 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play after Tuesday night's disappointing loss at the Breslin Center to 23rd ranked Wisconsin, 70-57.
Now, I wrote after the loss to Duke a few weeks ago to relax about Michigan State. They'll find a way to figure it out. They've done this before.
Well, Spartan Nation, while you shouldn't panic yet. You have every right to be concerned about this highly-touted Spartan squad. Here's why:
NOT MUCH POST PRESENCE
Malik Hall and Mady Sissoko combined to score 4 points in a combined 36 minutes against the Badgers. FOUR!!! That is far from good enough. Even though Malik Hall played 23 minutes off the bench despite feeling the effects of the flu in recent days, 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists aren't good enough. But I do give Hall (pictured above) credit for trying to play.
Defensively, they got WORKED by the Badgers on the glass. Wisconsin outrebounded State 36-22. And on the offensive glass, the Badgers had 11 of those while State had 5. None of those numbers are acceptable, not for Michigan State basketball.
JADEN AKINS IS STRUGGLING
The junior guard considered entering the NBA Draft last year. Now, he can't even score against Wisconsin at home. Scoring two points in 21 minutes doesn't help anybody's NBA Draft status. He needs to step it up...NOW!!!!
THE FRESHMEN MIGHT NOT BE READY YET
For all we heard about how good Xavier Booker is, he can't even get on the court right now. He got the dreaded DNP-CD (Did Not Play-Coaches Decision) against Wisconsin. Gehrig Normand is redshirting. And while Jeremy Fears and Coen Carr have showed promise, they haven't showed that they're ready to be major contributors yet.
IS TOM IZZO RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS SLOW START?
Partially. He took responsibility for the team's loss to Wisconsin is the postgame interview & press conference. He said that the team wasn't tough enough and that was on him. The slow starts in these games is also partially on him.
I'm not sure that you can coach toughness (maybe you can). But they need to get tougher in a hurry. Nebraska on the road this Sunday is no longer a lock win. And then they play 2021 National Champion Baylor in Detroit on December 16th before hosting Oakland on December 18th. Only two more non-conference games follow that before league play begins in earnest after January 1st.
This team has lost 13 games in each of the last three seasons. If things don't improve soon, they may be headed for that or even worse. And if it is worse, they might miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. And that is flat-out unacceptable for this program.
You have every right to be concerned about this team, especially with all the preseason hype entering November. Remember, they were ranked 4th in the country a month ago. They might not even be the 4th best team in the Big Ten right now! But it is early December, don't panic. Not yet anyway.