East Lansing, MI
This was supposed to be a feel good family reunion tonight at the Breslin Center. Lowly St Cloud State was supposed to come in with Tom Izzo’s nephew for an exhibition, MSU was supposed to beat them up, give them a check and get ready to head to Germany. Well the Spartan players and the St. Cloud State players didn’t get the memo.
The Spartan players played sloppy, lackadaisical and frankly disinterested. The Huskies played like it was their national championship. They played until they simply ran out of gas. SCSU Head Coach Kevin Schlagel was obviously proud of his team and said, “I am really happy with the effort we got from our players and I think we will really grow a lot from this.”
Izzo also had high praise for the Huskies. He said that, “This was a very well coached team. It’s fun to play a well-coached team that plays hard and they do.”
Izzo didn’t have high praise for his Spartans. The coach, visibly angry for almost the entire final 30 minutes said, “I guess it was a disappointing game again…We just didn’t guard like we need to…it was like everything collapsed at once. I am just disappointed. I am not ready to panic after two exhibition games.”
The Spartans had an astounding 20 turnovers against an inferior opponent and shot an abysmal 42% from the floor and 53% from the line. Yes it was that ugly.
Adreian Payne had a double double scoring 11 point and grabbing 11 boards. Derrick Nix was the leading scorer with 14 points.
Someone had to get stats, but this game was ugly. Izzo has to be concerned that one week from tonight his team opens against a much better (but certainly not elite) Connecticut team in Germany. Practice over the next few days should be intense.
On a personal note, I had the chance to talk with Izzo’s nephew Kevin Levandoski after the game. I asked him what tonight meant to him battling his Uncle. The youngster could barely contain himself with excitement.
Beaming ear to ear with the gigantic Izzo smile we all know he said, “Unbelievable. A dream come true for me. He has always been great to me with advice and sharing things. Everyone knows him as such a great basketball mind and he is, but I know him as a better person, Uncle and I have unbelievable respect for him as a coach and more as a person.”
Izzo was obviously humbled when I shared with him his nephew’s comments. He added simply, “I am about memory making events.” Then getting from the serious as fast as he could he added, “I a probably going to disown y mother for wearing that red sweater.” Kevin is the son of Izzo’s sister.