In 1997, Americans were still enjoying Seinfeld in primetime and trying to figure out whether or not to like Bill Clinton. We tolerated listening to those god-awful noises that accompanied logging onto AOL with a dial up modem, and internet porn was not yet even a glimmer in Hugh Hefner’s geriatric eye. 1997 was also the last year that the University of Michigan beat Tom Izzo’s Spartans on their home court in East Lansing. Well, before this week that was true, but the streak is over thanks to an uninspired effort out of MSU on Thursday night against the Wolverines.
Heading into this season MSU Basketball looked to be riding as high as any other major college sports program in the country. Tom Izzo was successfully enticed away from a lucrative NBA coaching gig and proclaimed that he was “a Spartan for life.” The team was coming off of back-to-back Final Fours, and was only losing one contributing player: the inconsistent Raymar Morgan. But who was going to miss Raymar when Draymond Green was ready to take over as a starter? Another NCAA Championship seemed a legitimate possibility for Izzo’s most talented team ever.
Well, as it turns out, the team decided not to follow the script that was written for them. MSU fans were able to rationalize the first two losses to UConn and Duke. But the blowout at Madison Square Garden to Syracuse was a sign of things to come.
Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year, Kalin Lucas, looked pedestrian all year before dropping 27 in the loss to the Wolverines. Durrell Summers has apparently traded his NBA dreams for a secondary role as a three-point specialist and has forgotten that he is one of the most explosive finishers in the country, leading to his disappointing 13.9 points per game. Delvon Roe has played well on defense, but looks more uncomfortable on the offensive end than Charlie Sheen at church. Green has been an occasional bright spot, but has been pressing lately in key situations and has fouled out of way too many close games. I don’t even want to get into the Korie Lucious suspension.
Izzo has earned the right to be free from judgment until March, and for good reason. There certainly is still time for this team to turn it around, with another several games left of Big Ten play and the conference tourney. This team could still be crowned champions by the end of the season… of the NIT.