You would not be alone in Spartan Nation if you admitted that you’re a wee bit concerned with the state of our basketball team, especially after the miserable game on Sunday. In fact, if I had updated the Boat immediately after the Ohio State game, it would have looked something like this:
But, I took a few days to reflect and I’m feeling a little bit better now. With some help from our friends in Minnesota who upset Indiana last night, Michigan State is back in the running for a Big Ten title. Yes, it’s a long shot…and of course now there’s a scenario where Indiana/UofM/Wisconsin can win the Big Ten (DO NOT WANT), but MSU is only a game out now. Basically, we just need to win all of the remaining games.
Look at it this way, Sunday’s loss was the FIRST TIME all season that MSU had lost back to back games. That’s astonishing, especially after seeing them struggle against far inferior opponents (please see Louisiana Lafayette, 3 point victory) and especially after seeing how good the Big Ten has been. What I’m saying is, don’t let those two losses in a row ruin your image of the team.
There are issues. And in a week we saw the ceiling and the floor of this team. Obviously you don’t want to see a game like the Ohio State situation so close to March, but it’s important to keep our focus on bigger goals. I have concerns, as do many of you, about what has happened to Keith Appling and Branden Dawson, but I’m not going to let these past couple of games dictate my entire opinion of the both of them. This is not the first time in Appling’s MSU tenure that we’ve seen him struggle with confidence. He’s dealt with this before. The difference this year is how he responds on Sunday. He’s never going to be a Draymond Green type leader, but he’s a leader on this team. He just is. If his shot is going to continue to disappear (which I pray it doesn’t), then he just needs to focus on assists and making the plays that the Spartans need him to. As for Dawson? He just needs to remember that a basketball game has two halves, and he needs to be present for both of them.
In Tom Izzo’s press conference this week, he stressed that people need to stop panicking. Losses happen. They just do. It doesn’t mean that this team is terrible or that they will never win again. What it means, in this case, is that the Spartans need to refocus and get fired up for Sunday. I don’t think they’ll have a problem getting excited for the Michigan game, but they have had a problem getting up for every single game they play. That’s a problem. But it’s not something that we can’t overcome. I’m hoping that this off week gives every one a chance to remember what we’re doing and what the goals are. As Izzo said this week, MSU wasn’t even in the Big Ten title conversation when the season began. They have come a long way. And I believe it’s all going to be fine.
So what was the point of this post? I’m not really sure. I think we all just needed to rally a bit and remember that we have a huge game Sunday in Ann Arbor. All is not lost. We’re going to be fine. These are Izzo’s guys, after all. And I have more faith in him than anyone else come March. And remember, March is what we want.
If you’re still feeling down, Sarah and I have found something that has not failed to cheer us up. Watch this a few times and you will find joy again.
We’ll be back later this week to get some hype going for the Michigan game.