The Michigan State Spartans are squarely on the bubble heading into the Big 10 Conference Tournament. The Spartans are the seventh seed and will face Iowa on Thursday evening. Do the Spartans need to win it all in order to go Dancing for the 13th consecutive year? Probably not, but they’ll definitely need to beat Iowa and perhaps No. 2 seed Purdue on Friday as well in order to keep pace with Duke, Kansas, Texas and Gonzaga, all of which have secured their invitation to March Madness.
On Wednesday, Tom Izzo joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta to reflect on the Spartans up-and-down season, the upcoming Big 10 Tournament, and what his team needs to do to get on a roll here in March. (Partial transcription via: SRI)
What went wrong this year for his team:
"I’ve caught the perfect storm. You can call it whatever you want and I’ve got a lot of words I couldn’t call it on the radio, but I think the most important part is it’s not like we’ve completely fallen under. We lost two key players. One Chris Allen from your area who started 29 games from last year and a very, very good player, one of our best defenders, and he was our best three point shooter. Then we lost another kid named Korie Lucious. Both of those were surprise losses and so that starts us off with our two best shooters in trouble. Then we’ve had a schedule from hell. We’ve had some injuries, especially (Kalin) Lucas, our point guard, who really wasn’t healthy with that Achilles until probably the middle of January. As bad as it looks, especially to people far away, our fans, and our media, for me it doesn’t feel good, but I have a better understanding of the situation. That being said I don’t think I’ve coached as well so I’m gonna take some of the blame and then we’ll see what we can do now that it’s March. It’s not like you turn on a switch or anything but these guys have been through a lot. We’ve had a ton of injuries. We’re not dead yet. We’ve got a lot of basketball hopefully left to play. It hasn’t been a standard year up here but it’s been a humbling experience and sometimes that’s not bad either."
Whether or not he plays any certain cards to motivate his team more:
"I play any card I can play to get me better than we are. I’ve smacked video tapes and I’ve read poetry. I think every coach does some things. Two years ago it was watching ‘On Any Given Sunday.’ The hardest part is you’ve got to find something that appeases 13 guys. No matter what you do, you still have to have players do what they do. Motivating is one thing but if there’s no self-motivation it’s hard to get as far as you need to get. I think most of my teams have been pretty driven. This one has been a little crazier, but a lot of the reasons were the injuries. And then the Lucas factor. If you take a quarterback away from any team, they’re not going to be as good. That hurt us for two thirds of this year, but yet we are getting better with it, our defense has been better, and hopefully we will play good enough that I can talk to you guys again after Selection Sunday but we’ve got a ways to go."