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Road Warriors

Feb 21, 2012 Adam Ruff | View Comments

There’s not a lot of margin for error when playing on the road in the Big Ten. But to win any league, let alone the Big Ten, road success is a must.

There are several small factors that can play a large role in the outcome of any game…especially a road contest: a slow start, a single lapse in focus, or one botched layup can signal doom.

Against Northwestern, a lapse of focus caused MSU’s defense to be gashed by back door cuts, resulting in easy layups and a seven point defeat. At Michigan, a slow start doomed the Spartans, trailing 13-4 early on, only to lose by a single point. Finally, in MSU’s only other Big Ten road loss at Illinois, you could point to several missed layups or put backs, contributing to yet another loss by the slimmest of margins.

But still, MSU boasts a 4-3 road mark with two remaining road trips. Those trips could decide their Big Ten fate. To come out on top, Tom Izzo believes there are two overriding factors that lead to success away from home and will prove vital in Michigan State’s quest for a 3rd conference crown in the last four years.

“I’ve always thought that [..]

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Championship Success, Part II

Feb 15, 2012 Adam Ruff | View Comments

In yesterday’s blog, I took a look at the basic numbers surrounding Michigan State’s defense in its Big Ten Championship years. And based on those numbers, it proved that a good defense is a much more valuable asset than a good offense (Of course, nothing could be better than having a good offense and defense).

So today, I thought we’d take a look at some of the auxiliary defensive numbers (blocks, steals, forced turnovers) from those same championship teams and see how this year’s squad stacks up against the rest.

While the numbers included in these two blogs are from CONFERENCE GAMES only, it’s also important to note that this year’s Spartan squad is producing a 37.4-percent defense in all games - the best of the Tom Izzo era. That number also ranks 5th best in the nation.

So how has this team done it?

“There was a commitment, you know, that we were gonna get back to defense and rebounding,” said Draymond Green following practice on Tuesday. “You know, that’s been a staple of this program, and that’s one of the things that this team said we have to do if we want to get this program back to [..]

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Championship Success

Feb 14, 2012 Adam Ruff | View Comments

Defense and rebounding.

Heart and determination.

Leadership and preparation.

None of these basketball qualities are flashy. And as a guy who grew up playing basketball, they aren’t always fun either. However, winning is fun, and those aforementioned qualities demonstrate why Tom Izzo’s program wins on a consistent basis.

It’s also why Michigan State is on track to another Big Ten title this season.

Saturday’s win at Ohio State exemplified those six traits of Izzo-ball, and as a result, vaulted MSU into the Big Ten’s top spot. While the game wasn’t necessarily a sight to behold for basketball fans in general, it was for the Spartan faithful.

While there are six difficult games remaining on MSU’s Big Ten schedule – with the next five in a span of 13 days – fans should be excited about the chances of another conference crown when you look at where this year’s Spartan team stacks up.

Of Michigan State’s previous six Big Ten titles under Coach Izzo (98, 99, 00, 01, 09, 10) the Spartans have boasted the league’s top scoring differential five times. And it’s mostly due to lockdown defense. Only once, [..]

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Seize the Opportunity

Feb 10, 2012

Thanks to former MSU head football coach George Perles, one of the most popular sayings around East Lansing, is “They all count one.” While that sentiment is very true in regards to the […]

Adam Ruff | View Comments

Defense has been the deciding factor in MSU’s six true road contests this season and is sure to be again tonight when they square off against Illinois in Champaign.In Michigan State’s […]

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The halfway point of conference play is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road”. By now we’ve seen the few teams who plan on staying in the Big Ten race for the long haul […]

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When Tom Izzo recruited Branden Dawson, he knew what he was getting; a unique player who could be a true game-changer. Thanks to Dawson’s build, athleticism, and instincts around the basket, […]

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