MSU suffered an embarrassing 22-point blowout loss at the Breslin Center to the Duke Blue Devils who totally outclassed the Spartans. The 22-point win by the Blue Devils was the worst loss the Spartans have suffered since 1997. While the Blue Devils had four players finish in double-figures, led by Shelden Williams' 16 points, MSU didn't even have one player in double figures. That is, unless you look at the turnover column where MSU compiled another humiliating 20 turnover performance.
Izzo was incensed by the "deer in the headlights" look from a group of players who have been in many big games including NCAA tournament play. He apologized to the fans and to the University for the Loss while personally promising to make changes.
"There is no question that I owe an apology to all of you because that was a disgusting display of basketball," fumed Izzo.
"You have to give Duke credit for changing their lineup, for shaking things up and for getting guys to play hard. We played scared. When the game was 13-13, with 10 or 12 minutes remaining, we already had 10 turnovers. It just got to a point where it didn't seem like we wanted to play and this is my responsibility, so I owe an apology to 15,000 people. Today was a big day for me, a big day for our program and we got kicked."
"There are no excuses when a team is so inept, because the coach should be blamed and it is my job. As I said, I don't think that I have ever been more disappointed in the team's performance in the nine years that I have been a coach here. We had a couple of players who played awfully hard, but there are a couple of guys where, there is no sense kidding anymore, you better start playing. We are definitely going to change our starting lineup for Saturday and we are going to try not to embarrass our fans or this institution again, because that is what we did today."
Three candidates for the bench appear to be forward Paul Davis and guards Chris Hill and Alan Anderson. MSU expected the junior guards to be team leaders after leading the team to the NCAA Elite Eight last season. Instead the trio have been plagued by poor shooting and turnovers. Hill suffered through one of his worst games as a Spartans going 3-of-8 from the field and 0-of-2 from 3-point range before fouling out.
Torbert, who made MSU's only three-point shot of the game tried to spark MSU late to no-avail. "I was just trying to get something going inside, something to the basket because I knew jump shots weren't falling for us. We wanted to try and get the basket and try to draw fouls."
Compounding the problems for Michigan State is its inability to find anyone who can play the point guard position. Junior college transfer Rashii Johnson, who was supposed to solve the problems that arose from the early exit of former Spartan Marcus Taylor, but Izzo has struggled to find anyone to man the position.
Blame Izzo for that problem.
Instead of recruiting a top flight point guard to fill the bill for a team that expected to be a championship contender, Izzo will have to wait for the arrival of high school senior Drew Neitzel of Wyoming Park next season. Neither Johnson, Hill, Anderson or even junior Tim Bograkos appear capable of running the team under pressure and Izzo may be forced to turn to freshman Shannon Brown who is more suited to the #2 guard position.
Davis appeared, particularly to be lost. Amid all the early entry to the NBA hype, Duke forced Davis into an unofficial seven turnovers on the night and Izzo eventually benched the slippery-handed forward in favor of sophomore Delco Rowley and then freshman Drew Naymick of Muskegon. Davis admitted Duke's defense affected his game.
"This is a complete 180 of what this team is about," said Davis. "Some change has to be made. There's nothing else we can do. We've talked a million times, so we got to try something. It was hard to play and it was hard to see. We've got to figure something out, quick."
Anderson was equally as bad. The junior swingman committed five turnovers and only took two shots leading to questions asking whether he was rattled by facing the Blue Devils. "Personally, this team has been through so much I don't see us being scared," Anderson said. "But the way we played said we did [play scared]."
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was gracious in victory but praised his team's defensive effort. "Our defense made it difficult for them to get open looks. I thought we were efficient, for the first time, for a whole game on the offensive end of the court. For us, (Chris) Duhon was spectacular in his leadership. We got a really good contribution from Sean Dockery. We had a lot of energy and for the first time, our big guys played like big guys. They gave us 25-30 points and 15 rebounds."
Izzo, while taking much of the blame for his team's effort, promised changes in the Spartans lineup. "The buck stops here and I have to find a way to way to change the mentality of this team, because right now we are a soft team. We just played scared. I couldn't believe the first 10 minutes of that game. I have never seen anything like that, not at Kansas, not against anybody, not on TV. We didn't give ourselves a chance to win. You can't turn it over 17 times in a half against an average team and we did that against a great team."
MSU (3-2) jumps from the frying pan into the fire. They play the Oklahoma Sooners (5-0) noon Saturday