The dust has settled from last night’s disappointment in Dayton. The MSU basketball team started this year rated as high as #1 nationally and they end the season with a record of 22-12. Twenty plus wins for Izzo yet again, that is something to be proud of but the season ends with the empty feeling that there should have been more.

Win twenty next year and that will be a huge achievement (if Shannon were to leave) but with 4 returning starters from a final four team you shake your head and ask why?

Tom Izzo said it best after the game that this team had gotten away from key core values of what Izzo ball means. Why with all of the screaming Tom had to do (even benching him to start the second half against Ohio State) at Paul Davis for wanting to play like a guard, did he still play soft down the stretch? When this team gave the ball to Davis and he played like a big man, we saw last year that they were a final four team. When he competed with Neitzel and Brown and Ager to be a guard, we lost.

Where was all the ferocious rebounding that Izzo teams where acclaimed? Why could we not play effective perimeter defense all year? Especially when it came to the 3-point line?

This is not a personal attack. This is honest assessment. Shannon Brown says he will come back and he should. This was the first and only game this season, that you could say he played bad. He is a great young man but he is not ready for the NBA draft ending the way this team did. Neitzel has to step up (and I am sure he will) in the absence of Ager, and be a scoring threat that we know he can do.

I truly like Paul Davis, and let’s make no secret here that he left a lot of career on the court because he ignored Tom and tried to play his game and not Izzo’s. I understand that we lost a lot with Hill and A.A. and Torbert leaving, and no doubt depth was an issue, but this team had 4 returning starters from a final four team.

The sky isn’t falling on MSU basketball. Izzo is one of the best, and in my opinion is the best.  If he and the Spartan Nation can learn anything from this, it is that we are a blue-collar program. He may be a millionaire but Izzo is a blue collar U.P. guy, and this program maybe won’t get as many national magazine covers not being glitzy, but it will get what we all want and had, national championships and Big Ten titles. Izzo made it very clear after the game that we are going back to that, and if there is a silver lining in losing (there really never is a panacea for losing) it is that Coach let all of us, the returning players and recruits, we are going back to be MSU.

Congratulations Coach Izzo. We are all disappointed like you, but we applaud you. One thing we all know is that we may have lost in the first round this year, but MSU is heading back to the top of the Big Ten and the nation.

After Shannon makes a solid decision (after Izzo talks to NBA folks) I will give you my entire 2006-2007 preview. Until then to all the seniors, thanks for never embarrassing us off the court or on. We hate to lose, and this lose should hurt, but our hearts are full of appreciation for you time.

So, we know have the long wait to next year. The good news: it’s only 6 months and 20 days until the MSU UM football game.