As the Michigan State Spartans begin their quest for the programs third national title, they are getting set out here in the beautiful northwest for a dangerous Delaware team. Now before you accuse me of hyperbole, I am not saying MSU will lose. I am just stating a fact that Tom Izzo is very aware of, Delaware is dangerous.
Izzo said, “Delaware presents some problems. You got a scorer in Saddler, who has scored over 2200 points. That’s a lot of points. When you have three guys that have averaged somewhere between 18 and 20 points a game, the only team in the country that has three over 18, their other two are averaging 11 and 11. It’s a group that is very talented offensively, has struggled some defensively, but they do a couple things that concern you.”
He went on to say about the Fightin Blue Hens that, “They get to the free throw line 26 times. The one kid has been there 250 times and hasn’t even played in all their games. They turn the ball over only 10 times a game mostly because they’re getting shots up quickly.”
One area of concern that Izzo has about this team is that you can’t look at the name or the conference. While both are relatively unknown the competition they have faced and competed with speaks volumes. “They played Ohio State, lost by 12 there, but Villanova by 4. Notre Dame, when they had the guard playing for Notre Dame that got injured, they lost by 5. When you watch them, sometimes you see a team that looks like one that isn’t as good defensively, isn’t as good a rebounding team. Then you watch them another time and they’re playing teams that I know are very good and they’re playing them right to the wire. As always, when you get into the 12, 13, 14, 15 seeds, it’s harder to get a perspective on teams. I think we got a decent one on them.”
I had Delaware head coach Monte Ross on my radio show earlier this week. He has so much respect for the Spartans, but also said, “We have some experience and leadership. Having played and competed against some really good teams they will have great respect for Michigan State. Everyone will. Just watch them on tape or look at what Coach Izzo has done, but they won’t be intimidated. Especially playing on a neutral court.”
I asked Izzo about those comments of Ross and his reaction was agreement, They do have some veteran guys, veteran guys that are able to score points. I think if you can shoot a three, they’ve got an inside guy who is very effective, but if you can shoot a three, and you got a kid like Threatt, I don’t know if he is a nephew of the one that played in the NBA or son, the Saddler kid has scored over 2200 points, and the Usher kid is a 6’6″ left hander who can really shoot it. They can shoot threes. They have a post presence. They got to the foul line a ton. That can change the game “
As the Spartans prepare as the nation’s favorite to win a title, many in the Spartan Nation will over look Delaware and perhaps rightfully so. Izzo can smell a national title and he isn’t going to let his team over look them for once second.