Michigan State: Season is Essentially Over, Program in Crisis?


tom izzo

Is it all downhill for the Michigan State Spartans? Clearly, this season is over, and State has packed it in. If losing to Michigan for the first time in 1,100+ days didn’t convince you, then maybe the requirement of overtime to achieve 3/5 of their conference wins did.

No? Then last night’s phantasmagoric performance in Iowa City certainly does.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are among the worst power conference teams in all of college basketball, and probably the bottom-feeder of Big Ten bottom-feeders. And the Spartans couldn’t (or wouldn’t) guard them to save their life. With all the talent MSU has -a #2 preseason ranking attests to this- losing at all to Iowa is unacceptable. But getting blown out by the Hawkeyes? That’s simply bizarro world.

This team has quit on Tom Izzo. They seem to just be phoning it in for the rest of the 2011. So what does the dark future look like?

By Paul M. Banks

For part two of this feature go here

Tom Izzo

We’ll get there, but let’s start by recapping EVERYTHING that’s gone wrong in Sparta in 2010-11.

Trouble started at the very top. In the summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers courted Tom Izzo, the money was strong, but he turned it down, eventually saying he was “a Spartan for life.” But what if Izzo had known Lebron James was staying for certain?

Then State’s main three-point weapon, Chris Allen, was dismissed from the team. I’ve heard some off-the-record stuff about what he allegedly did/what supposedly went down, but until the facts are revealed…we’ll just move on.

Unfortunately, what we’re moving on to is the alleged sexual assault by two players in late summer. Neither player accused of sexual assaulting the same girl at the same time was identified, but if you use your search engine diligently, you can probably find their identities.

But you won’t want to after reading this depressing and sickening report from the Michigan Messenger. It’s about as dark and disturbing a page as you’ll find on the internet.

Here’s an excerpt:

According to the five-page victim’s statement in the police report, the victim had attended a Wonders Hall orientation meeting and had noticed the basketball players there. She then went room to room with friends and had several drinks. At about 11 p.m. she ran into the accused in the lobby of the dorm and introduced herself to them.

She agreed to go back to the players’ room after a conversation with the two.

Once in the room, the three started playing basketball using a mini-hoop. When the victim missed a basket, one of the men told her she had to remove an article of clothing. The victim agreed and removed her t-shirt because she had a tank top on underneath.

At this point, the victim says, the players began to deliberately miss baskets until they were stripped “completely naked.” One of the men allegedly blocked the doorway to the room, while the other “cornered” the victim in the room.

“[The victim] explained to [detectives] that the body language of [the players] suggested she was not free to leave,” the report says. “[Redacted] was blocking any escape path to the exit of the dorm room. [The victim] stated that after [redacted] approached the door he turned the lights in the room off and the room went completely dark. At this point, the sexual assault began.”

The victim told police the players penetrated her in various positions. The victim told detectives the players allegedly asked her “how does that feel?” and “how do you want it?” The victim says she told the players she didn’t want it and gave “other indicators she was not a willing participant.”

The victim told police that the players pinned her down, but at one point she freed her arms momentarily and struck one of the players in the face. The player was on top of her and in response to her hitting him, he allegedly said, “Don’t. Just relax. C’mon,” as he continued to assault her, the report says.

But here’s the most disturbing portion:

In the report, Detective Sgt. Maureen Kennedy and Detective Nicole Simi say that when they read the warrant to the players, one of them was “smirking…”the one player who volunteered a statement corroborated much of the victim’s statement, the report shows. He told investigators that when it was clear from the victim’s statements that she did not want to have sex, he stopped. However, the other player continued “despite her reluctance and statements that she did not want to continue.” The victim confirms that player’s account.

The player told detectives he was concerned “over the girl’s reaction to the circumstances,” noting she was “timid” and “not aggressive.” The player then admitted to detectives that he understood how the woman believed she was not welcome to leave the room, in part because she kept referencing that the two were “bigger” than her.

The player then said a second time that he stopped when she said to, but the other player “coaxed” her into continuing the sexual activity.

The player told detectives that he and the other player should apologize because he felt the two had “disrespected” the woman.

Of course, neither player was arrested (and only one of the two appears to have a conscious) and the case was not prosecuted. But on the other hand, neither player was ever disciplined in any manner. And if you read all of the court system documents made available to the public, as I have, you’ll see the victim has an exceedingly strong case and that this situation has/had the potential to give the program it’s biggest black eye to date.

Let’s move on to the season: terrible losses to Syracuse and Texas, followed by very unimpressive overtime wins in conference, giving way to the embarrassments versus Michigan and Iowa.

Iowa stepped on their throats at the very beginning and never let go. A loss like this makes you wonder if the Spartans will even be favored again this year? They certainly won’t be in any of their upcoming road contests. And you can forge about tournament talk now. They’ll need to win at least 3-4 more just to make the NIT.

For part two of this feature go here

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com

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  1. I agree that the season is over at this point, but the author loses all legitimacy when getting a name completely wrong. Chris Hill? Next time might want to have an editor read over facts and names before publishing.

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