Critics wanted an apology from Tom Izzo, well, Indiana got one
It’s terribly ironic that for the past couple of weeks, many across the sports nation have felt that Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo should admit to some degree of embarrassment for circumstances that have occurred within his program off the court. However, when he finally did Saturday, it was completely related to a situation ON the court.
The Indiana men’s basketball program got the legendary coach to talk about his inner-shame when the rest of his critics haven’t been able to do so.
“This program has been built on heart and toughness,” Izzo said following his team’s 63-60 victory over the Hoosiers in Bloomington, “and tonight we weren’t the tougher team.
“I’m going to try to take the blame for that myself.”
Izzo has been criticized regarding his handling of several sexual-related incidents regarding members of his basketball program; however, on Saturday it was purely basketball that had him frustrated.
Yes, No. 5-ranked Michigan State won for the sixth straight time to improve to 22-3 (10-2 Big Ten), but make no mistake about it, the Hoosiers (12-12, 5-7) kicked the Spartans’ tails in many, many facets of this game.
The undersized Hoosiers worked their way to grabbing 53 rebounds against the best rebounding team in the conference (fifth nationally), including an amazing 25 at the offensive end of the floor. Meanwhile, Michigan State grabbed just three offensive boards, which were the fewest the Spartans had totaled in a game in 21 years.
“Very seldom does one of our teams get outworked or outhustled the way Indiana did it,” Izzo said. “The 25-3 difference on the offensive rebounds is an insult to me, my players, and anybody whoever played here.
“I was very disappointed in that.”
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The 25 offensive boards were the most that the Hoosiers had pulled down in 21 seasons, while the 53-29 rebounding advantage (or disadvantage, depending on your perspective) was Michigan State’s worst in that same span of time.
The Indiana tandem of Juwan Morgan and Freddie McSwain were short on stature, but not on ferocity.
The two Hoosiers combined for 31 points and 17 rebounds, and McSwain’s performance was especially impressive given his physical limitations.
Izzo utilized seven players Saturday that were taller than the 6-foot-6 McSwain, yet he finished with 16 rebounds, including nine offensive.
In his 55-game career in Bloomington, McSwain had started just one other time before Saturday, but first-year Indiana coach Archie Miller’s reward for a recent surge of strong play by the senior center paid major dividends.
“Archie did a good job,” Izzo continued, “and his kids played so hard. When he started McSwain, it reminded me of me starting (former Michigan State player) Antonio Smith, where maybe he couldn’t shoot or do this or that, but he played so damn hard it was impressive.”
McSwain had played 20 minutes in a game just one time this season, but Miller has now given him 54 combined minutes in the past two games.
“The numbers,” Miller said of the rebounding, “it’s hard for me to imagine that we were able to rebound the ball like that. But Freddie in particular, was really active.”
The effort on the glass was necessary because the Hoosiers lagged in a number of other areas.
If Miller’s team wouldn’t have emptied its effort tank, this game could have resembled the Spartans’ recent 28-point rout of the Hoosiers in East Lansing.
The Hoosiers shot just 28.8 percent overall and 21.1 percent from 3-point range, as they got their shot blocked 13 times.
However, Indiana not only worked on the boards, but also did a nice job of sharing the basketball (13 assists on 19 makes), as well as taking care of it (committing just eight turnovers).
“In East Lansing,” Morgan said, “they punked us. That’s what happened. We came to this mindset, me, Freddie, (Collin Hartman and Justin Smith), we talked amongst each other and we were like, ‘This can’t happen.'”
Indiana lost the game on Saturday, but unlike its counterpart, it had no reason to apologize for anything.
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