It’s time for Izzo to walk away.
I’m serious. This season has been nothing but an embarrassment. I know the mantra “players play”, but this isn’t a talent issue. There are two lottery picks in this starting five. This is a coaching problem. Three consecutive seasons Izzo has failed to make the Sweet Sixteen. Losing as a 2 seed to Middle Tennessee State. Getting embarrassed by Kansas. And then today, failure to adapt to the Boeheim Zone. Launching 37 3s and making 8. Jaren Jackson Jr was relegated to the bench. The game plan never changed.
This game was a microcosm of the criticisms directed at Izzo over the past few years. The game has evolved beyond his old school style of coaching. Why am I watching Cassius Winston, Miles Bridges, and Josh Langford pass the ball back and forth at the perimeter for 20 seconds of shot clock? No attempt to set ball screens. No attempt to try to go low against a team whose best bigs were fouled out.
Duke struggled early in the year. Coach K switched them to a zone, and they took off. He didn’t rest on his laurels and trust an outdated game plan. He adjusted to his personnel. Izzo hasn’t done that in years.
The deification needs to end. January, February, Izzo is an archaic saying. It’s January, February, Beilein now. The argument over who’s the best coach in the Big Ten is settled. It’s Beilein. Michigan doesn’t recruit lottery picks, they aren’t perennial National Title contenders, and yet they consistently go further than Michigan State in the tournament. It’s simple, Beilein can coach better than Izzo.
Izzo has forgotten more about basketball than I will ever know, sure, but I think I’m fairly safe in saying Jaren Jackson Jr shouldn’t spend 25 minutes of a tournament game watching from the sideline. I don’t think it’s insane to say settling for contested jumpers after 15 seconds of back and forth passing at the arc is going to beat the Boeheim 2-3 Zone. And I don’t think it’s crazy to say the other great coaches (K, Williams, Beilein, Boeheim, etc) are going 40 minutes of a tournament game without making adjustments.
Thank you for all you’ve done at MSU, Tom. Izzo has more than earned the right to walk away at a time of his choosing. He should consider choosing now.