A program once known for its blue collar work ethic, March Madness magic, rebounding prowess and championships (national and Big Ten) with the “Flintstones” has found a new geological destination: Rock bottom.
And folks, that IS the bright side. One can only hope at this point.
As weird as it sounds, after a 16-2 early deficit, I couldn’t help but think the Iowa Hawkeyes team is one of the worst I’ve had the displeasure of viewing. They had a 16-2 lead six minutes into the game, but there just isn’t anyone on that team to be scared of. Apparently for the Michigan State Spartans, it really doesn’t matter who they are playing. Or, I’m just an obtuse fan who won’t give up on a dream.
Yet, they kept clanking in ugly open jumpers and pitiful uncontested layups on the Spartans. What?
Was this Spartans team really ranked No. 2 to start this very hopeful season? This is the same team that propelled the expectations to the level of “championship or bust?” Didn’t everyone else ALSO think this was Tom Izzo’s deepest and most talented team to date? Don’t deny it now folks, you were there with me…and now we’re ALL paying the price.
Where do the Spartans go from here?
Again, the best case scenario is the current situation has found rock bottom. Iowa on the road was the second easiest game on the schedule, next to Iowa at home. Can one really bank on the Breslin Center making up a 20-point differential right now?
Will Michigan State make the NCAA tournament this year?
The schedule is quite challenging from here on out. Five of the next eight games are against ranked opponents. Three of them are on the road against No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 20 Minnesota (a tough building to play in regardless).
It’s tough to pencil the team we saw in Iowa tonight for ANY victories, but one could really only look at the Iowa and Penn State home games as viable options for wins. That would be a 2-6 finish to the Big 10 season and a 7-11 overall conference campaign. Not exactly what anyone had in mind.
Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. See you in the N.I.T. back at Madison Square Garden where the season's original disappointment took place against Syracuse. There doesn’t seem to be a “get out of jail free” card for Spartans fans this year. It’s college basketball prison right now.
Can we wake up and end this nightmare?
The more disenchanting part of this “Spartan Saga” is trying to figure out where the rising action begins again. It’s hard to believe losing Lucas and Summers next year will help this team. Sure, Izzo always has recruits lock, stock and ready to rock, but from what we’ve seen out of Payne and Appling—it’s hard to look to next year for relief.
I don’t know about you, but I really look forward to Kebler or Thornton getting more minutes where there are typically All-American wings. Should I split these rocks or my skull? The prison could easily continue.
Next year is when the real pain of the Lucious dismissal will set in. He was lined up to be an experienced senior point guard armed with a stocked, just as experienced frontcourt and a plethora of young athletic wings. That team ALSO “woulda/shoulda/coulda” be among the top to start the season. But, you can’t help but feel that cookie has all but crumbled. Perhaps imploded is a better word?
Is it possible Lucious has a little bit of Jeff Smoker Spartan spirit in him? Thus possessing the capability of an improbable comeback yanking the rug out for the full on 180—fooling himself, the team and the fan base into heights they never thought possible? Izzo should get John L. Smith on the line right now (what’s a good MSU piece without a reference to John L.?)!
Anything is possible, but from everything we know now, this seems highly unlikely. Thus far, the Lucious situation has granted little access to the media and in an Izzo program that is not good news.
How cliché has “conduct detrimental to the team” become? For me, it’s turning into “team’s conduct is detrimental to my mental stability.” Watching last night's game was incredibly painful, but I couldn’t turn away, because I’m in such disbelief to be in this situation. The baffling of this long-time Spartan die-hard doesn’t begin to scratch the surface.
I’m in a state of shock. “State of Shock” was a famous rock album from 1979 by Michigan native Ted Nugent. The song captures the current feeling perfectly with a psychedelic guitar lick and thick oil-churning thumping drum beat like that of skunkbears and untalented corn fed Hawkeyes reigning in uncontested threes. Somebody put this together on Youtube, please.
But, 1979 was also a great year for Michigan State basketball. Magic Johnson put the Spartan program on the map with their first championship. So, you see folks, this comes full circle. It’s just a state of shock…and the Spartans will snap out of it. Or, I’m just a delusional fan with a dream.
That’s the best I have right now. I feel like Chris Farley clinging to the roots in Black Sheep about to fall down the steep hill. Even those in prison need a way to pass the time. I have my haphazard connection and unwavering Spartan pride. I’m willing to listen to other suggestions. If there was something better, I wouldn’t have to write this article. Sigh.
Either way…I hope this IS rock bottom.
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