Michigan State’ s Draymond Green said they played like a bunch of girls and Delvon Roe and his teammates received a tongue-lashing in the locker room following the loss to Syracuse earlier in the week.
``I thought it was a women’s team against a men’s team,” Green said after his team was manhandled by the Orange.
Tom Izzo pleaded with me to rip his Spartans. He said they deserved it – and he was right.
However, while the team that many figured would serve as the primary opposition to Duke come April has stumbled out of the gates, I’m not giving up on them.
Even though league play hasn’t begun, when you take a look up and down the Big Ten standings, you have to bring your eyes all the way down to the 10th spot to find the Spartans at 6-3 overall.
Only Iowa, expected to finish in the Big Ten cellar, falls lower at 5-4.
But the Hawkeyes – or any team in the league – or any team in the country, for that matter – haven’t faced four ranked teams in the non-conference slate.
Izzo overscheduled as usual this season, but he did it without the knowledge that his Spartans wouldn’t have Chris Allen, would have Kalin Lucas at well less than 100 percent and wouldn’t have Derrick Nix at full strength, either – physically or emotionally.
Allen, Lucas and Nix were all starters a year ago – along with departed senior Raymar Morgan.
All I’m saying is don’t ever count Izzo out.
This is a guy who does his best work when it counts – and as long as Lucas gets healthy (people forget he suffered a sprained knee early in the season after coming back from a ruptured Achilles), the Spartans should be there in March and maybe even April when it matters.
Durrell Summers hasn’t been what some anticipated after a strong finish last year and the interior defense was abysmal against the Orange at Madison Square Garden.
``I’m disappointed with how we played,” Izzo said.
But Izzo hasn’t really had a chance to do what he does best with this group: work with them. It was one injury after another in the offseason and the constant travel has obviously worn on this group.
Let’s compare Michigan State to Syracuse. Both have played nine games.
Michigan State has played four on its home floor, three in Maui (against No. 6 UConn and No. 21 Washington), one at top-ranked Duke and in New York (virtually a road game) against No. 8 Syracuse.
Syracuse has played six of its nine games at the Carrier Dome, barely knocked off Michigan and Georgia Tech 300 or so miles away in Atlantic City and then beat Michigan State in its home-away-from-home, Madison Square Garden.
After this weekend, the Spartans will have a three-week stretch in which they will play just three games. It’ll give them a chance to get healthy and also practice.
Lucas will make steady progress and so, too, will Michigan State.