I’m going to preface this thought bubble by saying that I am a proud member of the church of Tom Izzo, and I am fully aware of the adjustments he’s going to make over the course of this season. I must also make the disclaimer that if I bet which I don’t (lol) that I would hypothetically have money on MSU winning the national championship. This team is freakishly athletic, immensely talented, and is coached by the legend himself. These huge non-conference games early in the year are games we always play and games we rarely win. We lost to the number one team in the country, albeit without one of the better players in the country in Marvin Bagley III for most of the game. There is no sense in believing anything other than this team being a clear contender for Tom Izzo’s 2nd national championship.
With all that being said you had to be frustrated watching this game if you have the expectations for this team that many do heading into this season.
Can someone get a goddamn rebound? I mean really. Duke finished with 25(!!!!) offensive rebounds. They had more offensive boards than defensive. We have the big man rotation Tom has been dreaming about and Jaren Jackson refuses to stick his ass out and box his man out. The interior defense was phenomenal there’s no doubt we have the bigs to dominate the interior on both ends of the court, it just seemed like a frustrating blend of youth and a lack of fundamentals, something we rarely see from an Izzo coached team.
On the offensive side of the ball it was even more frustrating. We have the most athletic team we’ve ever seen in East Lansing, you see it quite clearly when we get out in the break and start running. We are going to be an exciting team to watch in the open court there is no doubt about that. The frustrations came in the half court.
When you get so many easy buckets attacking the basket in the open court, one would think that would result in us attacking the basket in the half court but this young team just seems hesitant. There were so many occasions of Miles Bridges taking ill-advised 3 pointers with a man in his face, or the team skipping the ball around the perimeter for 20 seconds until McQuaid bricked an open 3. This team doesn’t have the spot up shooters we’re accustomed to having at MSU, we can’t shoot our way to a final four. We have to attack the bucket all day every day and twice on Sundays. There was a play with about 1:30 left in the game as we were clawing for our lives that Jaren Jackson found a spot in the zone, faced up, and went straight after his man for a tough bucket. Our bigs avoided contact all night on the glass and they avoided contact all night not attacking defenders on offense. Jackson can face up against any big in the country, Ward can body any big in the country. We have the talent, athleticism, size, and depth to go after teams for 40 minutes all season long we have no reason to be settling for 25 shots from 3.
All that being said if Izzo makes the adjustments he needs to make, we rebound consistently, we attack the basket and stop settling for contested jumbers, we will be sitting in San Antonio at the end of March cutting down the nets. This team is as talented as they come and I can’t remember a team I’ve been more excited to watch on a game-in-game-out basis.