By: Scott “The Gator” Anderson
That is a question that will haunt Spartan fans all year long as we had hoped they would be playing next weekend in the Final Four. I offer my quick take as to what happened against the Cardinals.
Louisville was simply better. There, I said it. I know it’s hard to take. It’s seems like a terrible injustice must have been dealt to Michigan State because they were destined for better things. Take a closer look at it objectively and understand that the game was really over in the first half.
The Spartans needed to have Draymond Green play as he had much of the season where he emerged as the Big Ten player of the year. Instead, Green missed badly on open looks to start the contest and nobody else in Green and White picked up the slack. In previous games, the Spartans were able to establish an inside game as Nix and Payne provided the muscle, but against Louisville they proved to be impotent in the shadow of Dieng, the great shot blocker. Not only was Dieng rejecting anything that came his way, he also stepped out and knocked down a three pointer that capped a ridiculous streak of trading 3 for 2 in a flurry of made field goals from both teams.
Few things are more demoralizing than hitting consecutive shots only to see the deficit grow steadily because the other team is not only hitting their shots, but they’re doing it from beyond the arc. MSU was scared to go inside for fear that it would result in an embarrassing swat and then panic set in when they realized that nobody was hitting shots, not even their MVP. Somebody needed to step up, but Louisville was simply not having any of it.
It’s ok, they lost, and they lost to a better team on that night. There is no shame in doing so; there is also no question that the athletic Branden Dawson was sorely missed. Though Green won’t be donning the Spartan jersey next season, there is still much to look forward to as the Spartans will welcome a healthy Dawson coupled with a roster chock full of guys who won’t forget what happened in Arizona and a very highly rated class of incoming Freshmen.