Michigan State Basketball: Sloppy play falls on veterans’ shoulders

As much as we’d like to blame Michigan State basketball’s slew of freshmen, the upperclassmen are responsible for the recent sloppy play.

It’s easy to look at the elevated turnover numbers and blame the influx of freshmen. Last year’s Michigan State basketball team averaged just 12 turnovers per game and this year’s is already up to 15. That might not seem like a major discrepancy, but the difference is obvious.

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The Spartans have had arguably their two sloppiest games of the season, recording 21 turnovers against both Iowa and Michigan, going 1-1 in the past two games. Before that, the Spartans were averaging just about 14 per game through the previous seven.

You can look to the Michigan game and blame the freshman for the loss because of the 18 combined turnovers — Miles Bridges had five and Cassius Winston had six — but the veterans have to be partially to blame as well.

While these young guys are making poor decisions, the veterans aren’t stepping up in the leadership department to teach them right from wrong. Sure, there were times when Tum Tum Nairn took Winston under his wing during the Michigan game and told him what he did wrong, but it was mostly Tom Izzo doing the correcting.

I know what you’re saying, the head coach’s job is to teach the kids what they have been doing wrong, but it’s also the veterans’ jobs to lead by example. Eron Harris turned the ball over three times during that game and played sloppy as well.

Harris was expected to be a leader this season, but his play is doing that no justice. He followed up his three-turnover performance against Michigan with a five-turnover game against Iowa, leading the team in that category. Winston and Bridges both cut down their turnovers while he and Nairn elevated theirs.

The sloppy play recent has to fall on the shoulders of veterans such as Alvin Ellis III, Harris and Nairn and there’s no excuse for them to have back-to-back 21 turnover performances.

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