Spartans Early Season Woes Continues Trend
Lets recap what the Michigan State Basketball squad has accomplished during the early stage of the 2012-13 season:
- Over 12,000 miles traveled
- Played consecutive games in TWO separate continents
- Five games in 11 days
- A victory over Kansas, who reached the Final Four a season ago
- Key injuries to guards Gary Harris and Travis Trice
So why should you be worried? The short answer is that you shouldn't be.
A staple of Coach Tom Izzo's team is consistent improvement throughout the season. While some may argue that they look like a MAC team early on in the season, you will rarely question them in the month of March. In a season opener against UCONN—which was played on Ramstein Air Base in Germany—the Spartans were lacking execution, shots were falling noticeably short, and quite simply, the Huskies punched them square in the mouth. All of those can be attributed to long travel, and a unit that was playing in its first game without their do-it-all captain, Draymond Green.
Only one game? Sure, they'll rebound back.
Next came the aforementioned Kansas Jayhawks. A team riddled with top-tier recruits, this would be a nice barometer of where this team is heading. After the long flight from Germany to East Lansing, the Spartans then traveled to Atlanta. An upperclassmen-esque performance from Freshman Gary Harris (18 pts) led the group to a 67-64 win over KU. Feeling quite good about the team? Final Four lock?
When a team or person reaches its peak performance, it normally has no place to go but down. Just ask Lindsey Lohan.
The Spartans then came home, winning four straight, albeit in an underwhelming fashion. A 74-70 win over Boise State, and 63-60 win over Louisiana-Lafayette highlighted the early-season flaws in the team as they took their talents to South Beach, taking the court versus the University of Miami as apart of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. In another lackluster performance, the Spartans shots came up short, losing 67-59.
As the Spartans look to have no real test until the 22nd of December (vs Texas), things should start look better. As previous seasons have shown, you cannot judge an Izzo-coached team through November:
- 2008-09: Endured two early losses at the hands of Maryland and North Carolina, yet made it to Detroit for the 2009 Final Four, eventually reaching the National Championship Game.
- 2009-10: Suffered three non-conference losses (Florida, UNC, Texas) en route to a second straight Final Four run.
- 2011-12: Two back-to-back losses at the hands of Duke and North Carolina didn't faze the team, as star Draymond Green led the team to a #1 seed in the tournament, a regular season conference championship, and conference tournament championship.
As the season rolls on, March will be here before we know it. Barring unforeseen injuries, the Spartans have everything it takes to make a deep run in the tournament. Rebounding, Shooting, Defense, and Athleticism will be the foundation of the team, and no team in America will want to see this team on their side of the bracket. With the early season play of Guard Keith Appling, the team will have one of the top closers in the game, and will have a legitimate shot to bring a third banner to East Lansing.
After all, which coach would you rather have in March than Tom Izzo?