Top 5 Concerns Following Loss to UMAA

Top 5 Concerns Following Loss to UMAA

Basketball

Top 5 Concerns Following Loss to UMAA

Breaking down the loss and wondering about what’s next.

Contact @crowleysullivan

  1. DEFENSE – The hallmarks of Tom Izzo’s toughest teams have been rebounding, defense, rebounding, and defense.  Mo Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and Zavier Simpson torched State with an offensive onslaught that led to 45 points bwteen the three featuring an amazing balance of 15 points apiece.  What’s more concerning is Duncan Robinson’s 13 points off the bench to go with 12 more from Charles Matthews.  Look for Izzo to talk about “checking” with more toughness and grit in the days ahead.
  2. REBOUNDING – The hallmarks of Tom Izzo’s toughest teams have been rebounding, defense, rebounding, and defense.  If we take a quick peek at the rebounding comparison between State and UMAA from today’s game, we see a 36-33 edge going to UMAA.  That’s not going to cut it with Izzo – nor should it.  Look for experts to refer to the oldie-but-goodie “War Drill” and rumors about Joe Bachie visiting the Berkowitz Complex next week.
  3. JAREN JACKSON, JR – With nothing but respect and admiration for Jackson’s well-earned awards this past week, he’s been regularly stymied by low post trench warfare.  His ability to alter shots with his wingspan is what makes him such a defensive weapon in one regard.  But it’s the physical banging and low post, goal line toughness that causes problems for him.  He was thrown off early when he got tangled up in a couple of scuffles this afternoon – one of them led to Nick Ward being slapped with a technical foul.  Jackson suffered from foul troubles and Izzo chose to sit him for a while.  Perhaps it’ll be Jackson who will benefit the most from the atypical week-long break before the Tournament starts.  If State is to reach its full potential in the next month, Jaren Jackson needs to be locked in, tough, focused, and nasty in every way.
  4. RIVALRY – In a season that included an outright regular season Big Ten Championship, an honest-with-himself-Spartan would admit that the two beatdowns to UMAA sting.  Yes, State has yet another banner hanging in the rafters of the Breslin Center.  But John Beilein has continued to show that he knows how to beat Izzo.  Beilein and the Wolverines will now be a chic pick to go deep in March.  That, coupled with the doubts about Michigan State, will add to a very challenging period for Spartans that seems to feature dark clouds at virtually every turn.
  5. SEEDING – This loss all but eliminates the notion of a #1 seed for the Spartans when the field is announced on Selection Sunday.  So many like to say that the seedings aren’t all that important.  And it’s true that Izzo has led teams to the Final Four with all kinds of seeds.  But it’s fair to consider that it’s “better” to be a #1 seed than, say, a #3 seed.  I’m not an expert on numbers but when you’re a #1 in anything, that’s usually better than being a #3 in that same thing.

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