MSU Basketball Fans, Relax!!!
The 18th ranked Michigan State men's basketball team is now 1-2 on the season after a tough 74-65 loss at the hands of 9th ranked Duke in the Champions Classic at the United Center in Chicago on Tuesday night.
1-2 isn't where most basketball people thought the Spartans would be after three games of the regular season. And as a result, there are some that are panicking already. Dude, you need to relax. Here's why:
State is THREE games into the regular season, not 10. If they were playing like they are now at the turn of the New Year, then you have the right to be worried. Barring injuries to key guys, of course.
MSU IS YOUNG IN SPOTS
MSU is playing a total of six freshmen and sophomores right now. That doesn't count sophomore Jaxon Kohler, who is injured. And freshman Gehrig Normand, who is redshirting. It takes some time for the young players to get integrated in coach Tom Izzo's system. Be a little patient with them.
A TOUGH EARLY SCHEDULE
The loss to James Madison last week in the season opener isn't as bad a loss as you might think. That's a pretty good team, one that will likely be in the NCAA Tournament. And the loss to Duke isn't catastrophic, either. They do have some other tough games coming up before the Big Ten season starts. Butler at home on Friday is winnable. And they play 3rd ranked Arizona on Thanksgiving Day in California (no lock loss). 2021 national champion Baylor is on the December slate, too. They can win that game, too.
However, there are issues...
STATE MISSES JOEY HAUSER'S SHOOTING
The Spartans are 8-50 from 3-point range so far. That's 16% behind the arc. And that includes the six they hit against Duke on Tuesday. That is faaaaar from being good enough.
For all the grief that Joey Hauser got while at MSU (Some of it deserved, but some of it not), State misses his shooting ability. And he had the chance to come back to school for his sixth year, but decided not to.
AJ HOGGARD IS STRUGGLING
The senior had only two points in 31 minutes played. He did have eight assists, but he's off to a slow start. And he's even critical of himself. Check out what he told coach Izzo after the Duke game, according to Detroit Free Press/LSJ columnist Chris Solari:
That is really something for somebody to say that about their own performance. But this team needs Hoggard to play better. I think Izzo will stick with him for awhile.
TOO MANY FOULS!!!
State committed 23 fouls against Duke, which led to 24-30 FT shooting for the Blue Devils. And while MSU fans will complain about the refs (a tradition unlike any other around here), most of those fouls were legitimate. They have to figure out how to play the tough defense that Tom Izzo demands without fouling so much. But this is a yearly thing with this program.
It's way too early to write the full story on the 2023-24 MSU Spartan basketball team. There's a long way to go before Selection Sunday in March. So people shouldn't panic yet. If they're playing like this in early January, then you start to be worried. But until then....RELAX!!!