Are we all still scared of UofM?
Look they’ve been playing tremendous basketball down the stretch this year, and yes it’s hard to forget them controlling the game on our own court January 13th. But are we forgetting this team has won 13 straight games? Have they looked pretty? Absolutely not, but it’s all about “survive and advance” at this point in the year, and this team has sustained that message better than anybody. People want to rag on us for the schedule en route to Tom Izzo’s 8th regular season B1G crown, they forget about what this team has had to go through off the court. It’s easy to say “focus on basketball”, it’s easy to dismiss what’s going on outside of these 18-21 year old kid’s control. It’s not easy to go out and win game after game as this turmoil is happening around them.
There’s a couple things that MSU needs to accomplish to win this basketball game.
Get Mo Wagner in foul trouble.
Beilein said so much himself, he gets called for some stupid fouls (sound familiar *cough Jackson cough*). Wagner has played out of his mind the past two games at the Garden and I truly believe that Tom Izzo isn’t going to let him beat us again. We’ll attack him at the rim with Jackson and Ward until we start getting easy buckets in the paint, or get the big guy in foul trouble.
Limit easy three pointers.
This one is harder said than done, I understand that. Michigan is a well coached team with great ball movement leading to a lot of open jumpers, but Michigan State has played stretches of great disciplined defense this year (NW 2nd half) to show that we can contest every shot if we truly want this game. Yesterday we watched UofM rain three’s on their way to a dominating win against Nebraska, but there was some poor defense being played and a lot of those were uncontested practice shots. We all know Beilein lives and dies by the 3, if we switch everything and contest every shot, we’ll move onto the B1G final.
Get out in transition.
Michigan is a very good defensive team, folks in Ann Arbor say it’s Beilein’s best defensive team he’s coached. Anyone who has watched this Spartan team can see that we’re dreadful at times in the half-court. I’ve been saying all year we need to get back to the Denzel Valentine style of basketball, transition, transition, transition. Defensive rebound, get the ball down the court. Made basket by UofM, get the ball down the court. This accomplishes a couple things, easy buckets for us, gets some of our guys in a rhythm, and tired legs for them.
Miles Bridges said it himself, this game is a “pride thing” and if you genuinely believe that this team has a chance to cut the nets down the last weekend of March, you damn sure better believe they want to win this game badly. Nobody wants to end a year 0-2 to Michigan right?