Being a Michigan State basketball fan has had its perks for quite some time now. Unfortunately, the men’s basketball team has been dropped out of the top 25 rankings as of Monday after a tough loss to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. While it is disheartening to not see a Spartan head among the top-ranked teams in the country, the lack of ranking is deserved.
The basketball team is now 6-3 on the year, a record that has been fluffed up with victories against teams like Santa Clara and the UAPB Golden Lions. The Spartans were forced to rely on a 25-point performance from senior guard Travis Trice in order to beat Navy by a score of 64-59.
Clearly, this is not the team from last year. Not trying to beat a dead horse, but certain points feel as though they must be reiterated.
1: It is only December. The season is a long and strenuous affair, and it appears that head coach Tom Izzo is attempting to prepare his players for the long haul. Scheduling tough games in the beginning of the season seems to be his modus operandi as of late, and it is a good thing for a team to experience some adversity in order to determine who they are and what is needed for a run in the postseason.
2: Certain players must step up. There is no beating around the bush on this subject — players need to play to their potential in order for this team to compete for a national or Big Ten title. Branden Dawson, Bryn Forbes, Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine must set the standard for the younger players to follow. Dawson cannot shoot 8-19 from the floor and expect this team to thrive in the ultra-competitive Big Ten. Denzel Valentine has been a steady scoring option this season, and it would seem that he is someone to trust in for a bucket. Bryn Forbes shot 7-7 on the night against Notre Dame, a pretty solid stat line for a guy who could not seem to get a shot attempt in the second half.
Dawson and Valentine need to be double-double machines night in and night out in order for the younger starters to be confident in their own games.
3: It’s Izzo. This is the secret weapon that all of East Lansing holds close like their favorite pillow or fluffy bunny. The man has been through countless scenarios involving a myriad of different players. If there is anyone who can guide a team to a successful season, it is Izzo.
The man from the mountain made of iron knows his basketball, so collectively, let’s all just sit back and relax until the Big Ten season starts.
Nick Carver is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports
Photo: Scott Wasserman/Impact Sports