Tom Izzo certainly wasn’t happy with the fact his team lost both of its games last week, but after Sunday’s loss at Ohio State, it wasn’t just the players he was disappointed with – he included himself in the criticism.
The biggest issue against the Buckeyes was the ball screen defense, and on Monday’s Big Ten Teleconference, the Spartans coach didn’t feel any different.
“You’re not gonna play anybody that’s ranked and play average and win,” Izzo said. “We’ve played average and lost a couple of close games we had a chance to win at the end. I gotta find a way to do a better job. That’s what coaches do right now. They figure our what players did wrong, that’s one part of it, but they got to look in the mirror and figure out what the coach did wrong. (Sunday) I did a poor job of handling ball screens and we’re gonna work on that all week.”
Ohio State’s Aaron Craft hurt the Spartans on the screens to the tune of a career-high 21 points and coming up Sunday, Michigan State will have its hands full again with Michigan’s Trey Burke.
But Michigan State doesn’t play during the week and it allows plenty of time to freshen up and focus on the defense along with returning to the form it showed two weeks ago in a blowout victory over Michigan.
“We did not play with the same energy in the last two games that we needed to play with,” Izzo said. “Whether it’s fatigue, whether it’s pressure, whether it’s fat and sassy, you can pick a lot of different things it can be and maybe it’s a combination of all of them. But this week we’re gonna work on getting back who we are and what this program stands for.
“It’s an important week because after this week there is no time off and there’s no chance to work on things. We’ve got a good enough team to make a good run. We’ve got a very good starting five, (Denzel) Valentine is getting better every day and maybe we’ll finally get all the pieces back as (Travis) Trice comes back and we see what we can do.”