For the first time since 2006 and 2007 Tom Izzo failed in consecutive years to take the Spartans to a Sweet 16. While it was more expected this year the Spartans would come up short, the performance put up by the freshman against Miami and Kansas gives promise for the future.
While many saw the dazzling play of Miles Bridges this season, Nick Ward was snubbed off the Big Ten all freshmen team and slid under the radar for the most part. The importance of Ward was shown late in the game against Kansas Sunday night. Ward had been playing with three fouls as the Spartans closed the Kansas lead to just one, but when he went up for an offensive board and was questionably given his fourth foul Kansas exploded. With Ward on the bench the Jayhawks increased their lead, completely demoralizing the Spartans in the final five minutes en route to a 20 point win.
The shortcomings of this team finally caught up with them. They didn’t have enough firepower to stay with Kansas with all of their weapons. Seventy points was not going to beat them.
With disaster of the Spartan football team this year, attention now goes to the basketball team and the upcoming season. This will be an interesting team with the losses of Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello to graduation, but will have the services of four highly touted freshmen on the roster.
With the basketball season ending on a sour note, upset in the first game of the NCAA tournament, the Spartan Nation can look forward to next season. Even though we lose a lot from this year’s team, we can look forward to an exciting team next year with a highly regarded recruiting class with Miles Bridges, Joshua Langford, Nick Ward and Cassius Winston signed. There is hope that the number one player in the nation, Josh Jackson will also be part of this class, making this undoubtedly Coach Izzo’s best class ever. Add those players with returning players Deyonta Davis (if he doesn’t opt for the NBA) Gavin Schilling, Eron Harris, Matt McQuaid, Tum Tum Nairn, Kenny Goins and Alvin Ellis, this will be a deep and athletic squad.
Like much of the nation, the Spartans were still trying to process the 90-81 loss in the locker room
MSU had to learn the hard way……with a bulls-eye on your back, you will get everybody’s “A” game and you have to bring your “A” or you go home early….especially in the tournament when it’s “one and done”. That’s exactly what happened today. I take nothing away from Middle Tennessee State. They have some guys that can flat out play and they showed it. They hit the big shots, they seemed to get every loose ball and came back after MSU made their runs. They deserved to win. They led the game from start to finish, so I can’t say they were lucky; they were great!!
I feel bad for the Spartans because I thought they had a chance to make a deep run this year and get back to the Final Four, but it was not to be.