Friday, March 23, 2012

Spartans Wrap

If you’re reading this memo then you know I write a Spartan Blog…so in the interest of balanced reporting…let’s celebrate the Spartan season by walking with our heads high and praising Louisville for a great win.

I try my best to look at games thru the lens of the coach (even though my lenses are slightly tinted green & white) and not from the comfort of a courtside seat. So, if you and I view this game thru the lens of honesty and objectivity…then you and I have to give great credit to Louisville Defense and not simply blame the Spartans Offense.

I always remind myself, games aren’t played in a vacuum and in the game of guts and steely nerves…Louisville didn’t blink…and Louisville forced the Spartans into uncharacteristic errors!

So, let’s take a look at what was expected…compared to ‘what happened’ and I think you will discover the Spartans didn’t lose…they were beaten by a better team…and here are a few facts:

Prior to this game:

Spartans Defense allowed 59.4 PPG during the season…they only gave up 57.

Spartans allowed 37.9% from the field during the season…they held L’ville to a miserly 38.2%.

Spartans averaged 4.2 Blocks during the season…they got 7 Blocks  vs L’ville.

Spartans averaged 7.1 Steals during the season…they got 8 Steals vs L’ville

Spartans averaged 69% FT’s during the season…they converted an impressive 91.7% vs L’ville

But as I predicted yesterday…Defense would be the ‘key’ to the game…but I didn’t contemplate it would be Louisville who would dominate the defense. Take a look at these stats .

Spartans averaged 72.4 PPG during the season…they were held to a pitiful 44 points by L’ville.

Spartans averaged 48.2% FG (ranked #16 Nationally)…L’ville held Spartans to 28.6%.

Spartans averaged 36.5% 3PA…L’ville held Spartans to 23.8%

Spartans averaged + 8.3 Rebounds…L’ville turned the tables and had +3 Rebounds

Spartans averaged 12.9 TO’s…L’ville forced Spartans into 15 TO’s.

I can still hear some of you saying….it wasn’t great Louisville Defense…the Spartans simply shot poorly. Fair enough but let me ask this question: Did the Spartans shoot 28% from the floor in pre-game shoot around? Or did the Spartans shoot 28% from the floor at half time shoot around? Of course not!

Louisville Defense forced the Spartans into a poor shooting night so, in defense of Louisville Defense…they rendered the Spartans Offense less than ordinary…and how many teams can say that?

In summary, I love Tom Izzo because I love the way he prepares his teams…I love his passion for the game…and I love Tom Izzo because he does it the right way (scholarship…citizenship…and sportsmanship)…but last night…the Spartans got beat by a better team. If it was a 7 game series…I think the Spartans would win the series…but it wasn’t a 7 game series and in the contest of ‘one and done’…Louisville was the better team!

But as much as I admire Tom Izzo, I have two minor (let me say again, minor) complaints: I disagree with the Spartan strategy for breaking the press and I disagree with the Spartan pregame travel plans. Travel plans? Yep but let me talk about the press first.

Maybe I’m old school but as it relates to breaking the press…I have always believed…the most efficient means of breaking the press is to pass & break. The dribble has never been considered an efficient means of breaking a press…has it? The dribble takes too much energy…and it takes too much time…and TO’s are a common by product.

But last night…it appeared as though the Spartans were engaged in a contest of “my dribbler can beat your defender”. It seemed to be a badge of courage to try to break the press via the dribble but, if that was the contest then Louisville won the contest.

On the other hand…I’m not a coach, I’m just an interested alumnus who replays the game on the 6 inch court between my ears (ha) and many times the game gets called due to darkness…(said with more laughter) so, with respect to Coach Izzo I may be wrong…but I still think the pass is the best means of breaking the press.

And how about the Spartan Travel plans?

As strange as this may seem…I think the Spartan travel plans were horribly flawed…and I made that decision when I learned the Spartans departed for Phoenix on Monday. Monday? Why?

Departing on Monday is waaaay toooo early…too much time to sit and think about a basketball game. Too much time to over think the task at hand. The Spartans arrived in Phoenix early on Monday…spent the balance of the day on Monday…spent all day Tuesday…all day Wednesday…all day Thursday prior to the game…thinking about the game.

These are 18-22 year old kids…they didn’t go to a resort to play golf…or go to trendy restaurants like you and me…for the most part, they were restlessly sitting in a hotel room…watching TV…texting…watching TV…texting…watching TV…eating lunch…watching TV…having dinner…practice…back to the hotel…watch more TV…send more text…and on and on.

The Spartans spent more than 72 hours in Phoenix to execute 6 hours of practice and play a 40 minute game. Again, not a major complaint but I think the travel plans were flawed and I think the ‘flawed’ routine was abundantly obvious at the start of the game when the Spartans were horribly  out of sync.

The travel plans alone didn’t cost the game…but it didn’t help!

But that was then and this is now.

I celebrate a great season! The Spartans went from unranked to Sweet 16. Nice job Spartans…and congratulations to Louisville…we wish you good luck…play hard…carry the banner of a victory over the Big Ten…and play the game with respect.

When does Football start? (ha).

Thank you for reading!

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