As we grind away the summer months with nothing to entertain ourselves except beer, baseball, and NBA summer league dunks (Kevin Knox wtf), I find my brain wandering back to a simpler time, a time where on any given night I could flick on the T.V., throw on my loosest boxers (Fruit of the Loom btw), and just dig into some BIG10 big boy basketball.
As I reflect on that special time I cannot help but think, what the fuck was Tom Izzo doing this season? Did he really not understand how to use Miles Bridges? What was the point of not telling Jackson to stop fouling on every defensive possession? Does having 3 (maybe 4) of the top 50 players in the nation as well as a solid supporting cast not mean you end up in the sweet 16? Are you really afraid of Boeheim’s zone in a down year?
I am not going to waste your time in this blog presenting my takes about the stuff going on off the court, although that very well may have been the reason for some of the on the court struggles. I am focusing on the LUNACY that was the Michigan State season. Sure, 30-5 sounds like a good year for any NCAA team, but in a down year for the BIG10 and a cupcake out of conference schedule, that is nothing to be proud of. The fact is if you watched this team headed down the stretch you knew they were destined to under perform in the tournament. They were playing dumb, they were playing without heart. It seemed like Bridges didn’t care to be “the man” that we all knew he could be. I mean how can a guy go from a front-page of SI.com feature story to a guy who you don’t trust down the stretch?
Some of the blame has to fall on Izzo. A coach I so often think of for doing the exact right thing seemed to forget what buttons to push. The old adage to not count out Izzo in March is slowly turning into questions about his tournament ability and why he only has on National Championship.
I think the biggest travesty was the missuses of Jaren Jackson. The guy should have been unstoppable, and for stretches of the year, he was. A guy with legit NBA center size who can shoot and defend that well, and you can’t figure out a way to keep him on the court? He put up a monster freshman year sure, but when you see him performing like he is right now in the Summer league, it just makes you think what could have been.
For a program with Michigan State’s notoriety and recruiting ability to get out performed by Michigan this year is embarrassing, and Izzo surely must be taking a good hard look at his program this summer.
I am not starting the call for Izzo to retire or be fired, I am simply asking, what the fuck was he doing down the stretch? I just know we need this Izzo back in our lives in a BIG way.