Michigan State exceeded expectations most of the season. Right up until they didn’t any more. This team was expected to be an above average B1G team, not the cream of the crop with Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State, but right after them, a solid yet unspectacular team that would probably be a 5 or 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Then they started winning, inexplicably. Hopes started to rise and after the beat down of UM in East Lansing, this was Tom Izzo’s best record after 24 games ever. Could this be his elusive 2nd NCAA Championship team? One that he often talked about disparagingly when discussing their lack of leadership, rebounding and focus?
Then the three game losing streak put it all back into focus. A tough loss at home to Indiana where the lack of focus and leadership was apparent down the stretch. Then a 2nd half collapse at Ohio State, where again, a true floor leader was needed. Finally, a brutal final seconds loss at Michigan, that completed the no focus or leaders hat trick for Izzo’s bunch.
Who was this team? Who is this team? This is a Tom Izzo team even if he wont’ admit it himself. After beating Wisconsin soundly last night to complete 5 straight wins over Bo Ryan, the Spartans are back in the “It’s March, Its On” mantra that has followed Tom Izzo in tournament success for the past 15 years.
The adversity they faced in those three losses will help this team grow. The energy that they showed last night, the all around effort and the fighting through shooting slumps and poor play showed that Tom Izzo is their leader. That their own hustle and strong play are what they thrive on.
Quick baskets off turnovers seem to do more to this team than anything else, builds more energy that a Rah Rah speech in the huddle. And once again, like all Tom Izzo teams, this one appears to be peaking at the end of the season after having learned how to lose terribly, they can focus on winning.