WHERE: KEY ARENA, SEATTLE, WA
TIME: 7:35PM EST
ON AIR: TV, CBS CHANNEL 62, RADIO WWJ 950
(EAST LANSING) - It's one thing for the coaching staff and the fans of the Michigan State Spartans to criticize their team, it's quite another when the opposing team, especially one from the "wacky" WAC conference starts piping up.
"They're not really that good," reserve forward Jermine Washington said of the Spartans to the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I think we can beat them. They're not that big inside. They really have no true point guard."
Lest you think that Washington's comments were just an inexperience player popping off, he wasn't the only one. "He took my spot when I was trying out for the Pan Am Games (last summer)," said Wolfpack guard Kurt Snyder, referring to the USA team that was coached by Izzo. "Obviously, I have something to take care of."
Oh, NO you didn't. It's time for MSU to "put the smack down." Who do these jokers think they are?
That's the question Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo had to be asking himself. Izzo's pride in his program is intense and had to be seething at the lack of respect that he clearly will use as motivation for the Spartans.
Is Nevada really that stupid that they would not respect a team that went to the Elite Eight just a season ago? The coach took the high road, but you can bet that those two statements are in the Spartans locker room.
"I can't figure it out," Izzo said. "Maybe because it's their first time in."
The trash talk could be just the extra motivation MSU needs to turn them back into the road warriors they were a season ago.
Last year, MSU came into the NCAA tournament after a Big Ten tournament semi final loss to Ohio State 55-54. The Spartans had whipped Purdue in the opener in a similar fashion to the way they whipped Northwestern in this year's opening round. But the Spartans caught fire after going on the road, reeling off three straight wins over Colorado, Florida and Maryland to get to the Elite Eight before falling to Texas led by T.J. Ford.
"I am trying to look at it as a similar setting," said Izzo. "Colorado was a similar team as Nevada is. Colorado had a great player who went out like (Nevada's Kirk) Snyder does. They had a great player, a great big man, and we went out there and made some adjustments.
We have to play in somebody else's backyard, so there are some other similarities in the seeds and things like that. I think that this team is capable of making a run because of what we have done in the last 17 games. Now we are right down to the wire and I think that is why we are capable of making a run and pulling it together."
In the process, they can deliver a backhanded slap to some talkative Wolfpack players who need to be put in their place...sweeping up trash in the backroom of a seedy Reno casino.