“When does basketball season start?” cried Spartan football fans around the world.
“When does… er…. baseball season… start?” cry Spartan basketball fans around the world.
Yeah. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but a 4-point loss to an underdog to start off a season isn’t ideal. The Spartans looked flat from the beginning, not scoring any points for the first two and a half minutes and looking lost on defense. The bigger problem, however, was the fact that they never seemed to recover. In the beginning of the second half, the Spartans went on a run and eventually took the lead, only to lose it again. The lead changed 3 more times times, but MSU never led by more than 2. Just to add on, the one time MSU led by two points, Shabazz Napier promptly hit a three, giving UConn the lead.
It was a rough first game. Let’s look at what happened.
Why the Spartans lost:
Scoring Problems: The Spartans scored 62 points, but never could keep momentum. Just to start off, the Spartans didn’t score a bucket for the first two and a half minutes of game time. The big men were especially having trouble getting points. The Spartans’ top three scorers were guards Gary Harris and Keith Appling and guard/forward Branden Dawson. None of the big men had more than 6 points.
Defense: Last year, UConn was 153rd- 153rd- in the nation in points per game. Adding on to that, they lost 4 of their top 6 scorers. You’d think the Spartans would play lock-down defense, but in reality, they just looked lost. They were giving up points and points and points and points. Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix both looked pretty bad on defense, but hopefully it was just first game issues that will get worked out.
Final verdict: The Spartans aren’t as bad as they looked. They’ll get better throughout the year, don’t worry. Don’t start yelling about how MSU’s recruits suck and how Izzo should bench Derrick Nix, just give it a few games. Yes, the Spartans will probably lose to #7 Kansas on Tuesday, but after than the team will get it together. Don’t worry.