I’m back from vacation, and I’m back to blogging. This sounds like a hot take, I know, how could a Hall of Fame Coach with seven Final Four appearances be on the hot seat? I’ve had some time to let this one marinate. This is anything but hot.
Let me preface this by saying I’ve said this all year. Go listen to Episode Three of our podcast. Tom Izzo needs to win these games. It sounds nit-picky, coming off of a 13-game win streak and outright Big Ten regular season championship, but it’s true. And really, outside of a buzzer-beater win at home against Purdue, the Spartans didn’t exactly face much talent during that win streak. Hell they let themselves get down by 27 in the first half to Northwestern. And now, in the Big Ten tournament, against arch-rival (and one of the hottest teams in America) Michigan, the Spartans put up one of the most embarrassing performances in recent memory.
Consider this, Michigan State ranks top 10 in shooting and top 5 in three point shooting. On Saturday, they shot 28% from deep, and only 38% overall. In the quarterfinal, where they beat 18-loss Wisconsin by 3 points, they shot only 31% from 3. In a home win against Purdue (on the back of poor shot selection turned buzzer-beating 3 from Bridges), 33%. Against Michigan in January, 21%. Against Ohio State, 23%. How does a team that shoots the lights out so often also so consistently fail to show up for its biggest games?
It’s back on Izzo. The Big Ten’s ridiculous schedule and terrible decision making to move the tournament up a week gives the Spartans 12 days off. Initially, I thought this would be awful, but since they currently couldn’t hit shots on a Little Tikes rim, it could be beneficial. It’s on Izzo use these 12 days to take this team to their potential. This is the most talent Izzo has had maybe ever. Two lottery picks in Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., the best three-point shooter in America in Cassius Winston, and a group of guys who specialize in swatting your shit into the seats (they lead the nation with an absurd 242 blocks). So why the hell can’t a Hall of Fame Coach have them ready for big games? If Izzo doesn’t spend these days off reminding his guys they aren’t shit, getting them angry, hungry, ready to fucking ball, it’s on the coach.
Izzo is getting outclassed by the coach in Ann Arbor. John Beilein has done so much more with so much less it’s frankly unbelievable. He swept the Spartans this year and never played them at home. He’s won back-to-back conference championships. He’s been to as many Final Four’s as Izzo in the past 5 years and he’s won a Final Four game. Yet, Izzo remains deified in East Lansing. We give him Krzyzewskian praise, without the Krzyzewski titles. In the past two years in March, Izzo has seen his team get blown out by Kansas in the second round, and look helpless to 15 seed Middle Tennessee State; yet Spartan fans continue to shout “wait till March.”
I’m done waiting. It’s been Ring or Bust all year. Miles Bridges didn’t come back to look completely lost against Michigan on a neutral floor. He didn’t come back for an early exit in March as a 3 seed. Michigan State has 9 days left to get their shit together. It’s on you, Tom.