One and DONE!

Conseco Fieldhouse

Indianapolis, IN


A perplexed Izzo walks off the court after his Spartans fail to meet expectations...again!  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.
A perplexed Izzo walks off the court after his Spartans fail to meet expectations...again! Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

“No excuses,” was how Raymar Morgan expressed his feelings after this disappointing loss here tonight in the Big Ten tournament. Tom Izzo said, “We missed lay ups and free throws,” and he added that, “We didn’t play very well and we didn’t shoot very well.”


All of those quotes told the story of what happened here. The Spartans came out moving and playing well on offense, but they couldn’t hit a shot. Defensively they missed Chris Allen and every time you thought the Spartans would get back in it, the Gophers dug the knife in deeper.


The Spartans bench was out scored, they had more turnovers and out rebounded the Gophers by one. This wasn’t a highlight. This was a lowlight. Izzo wanted this tournament more than any other since his last one ten years ago.


This program plays for the NCAA. In fairness let’s not fool ourselves that because of how they played this season that goal still lies ahead. This one still hurts. Izzo wanted this. Izzo craved it and when several members of his team didn’t seem to care. You know that burned him up. This team embarrassed the Spartans that Izzo fondly talks of from the past. Somewhere you know Mateen and Earvin turned away in disgust.


Izzo wasn’t happy after the game. He was angry at some of his players, some of the media and even himself. There is no doubt that this left a bitter taste in his mouth, and it should have.


This team didn’t lose because Chris Allen didn’t play. They lost because they couldn’t make shots, at times couldn’t guard anyone and the most glaring weakness: couldn’t make free throws. They were out toughed. They were outplayed and even when they still had chances to win they couldn’t close the deal. They wore the green and white, but they didn’t play like Spartans.


This team has talent. This team could make a Final Four run. This team could lose in the first round from a team like Minnesota that is hungry. They are not hungry and that is one trademark quality that every Tom Izzo coached team prides themselves on. This one can’t…it could, but they can’t as of now.


This team has some hungry players. This team has a hungry coach. This team isn’t hungry. Izzo in his usual yooper bluntness said it best, “One and done time, my bad goes out the door.” How about this one, “Our defense was so bad early,” and one more to make you more sick than you already are, “We just couldn’t guard.”


Why was Durrell on the bench? “I needed someone who could guard somebody.” Can you blame him? Mike Kebler played great, but even Kebler would tell you he doesn’t have Durrell’s ability to score and the Spartans needed points.


Izzo gets deservedly a lot of credit for being a master motivator. He gets a lot of credit for pushing the right buttons. Absolutely none of what he said or did tonight was about motivating people. He was disgusted.


He should be. This team has let him down. This team has failed to see what their collective talent can be. This team still can’t see the forest, or what this program is about.  


Izzo was rejuvenated and fired up. He wanted this bad and they lost. Not to a better team, they lost to themselves and that doesn’t happen to a team he leads.


Izzo is quick to take the blame when he earns it. He is quick when he doesn’t. Tonight had nothing to do with Tom Izzo. This team could be a Final Four team, or they could end up as one of the biggest disappointments of selfish play and lose in the first round and end up on a milk carton in San Jose. 


This I know. Izzo doesn’t have a clue and neither do I. This schizophrenic team has issues. How fast they deal with them will determine what happens next weekend. For now, a puzzled Izzo and a team in disarray ask themselves what is going on.


Tom Izzo’s track record speaks for itself. This team has to own up and fix this. Izzo clamors all of the time for a player-coached team. With only one guaranteed game left, it’s about time.