Tom Izzo calls Michigan State's performance 'humiliating' after loss to Penn State

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Tom Izzo calls Michigan State's performance 'humiliating' after loss to Penn State

After a strong start to Big Ten play that saw wins over Minnesota, Northwestern and Rutgers, Michigan State got back in the loss column Saturday.

It was a unique game not just because Penn State beat Michigan State, something that hadn't happened since March 2011. The Spartans and Nittany Lions clashed in the Palestra, the famous Philadelphia arena that's been hosting college hoops games since the 1920s.

The arena's legacy is so impressive that it's dubbed the Cathedral of College Basketball.

The setting seemed to make Saturday's 72-63 loss by Michigan State sting even more for head coach Tom Izzo, who let his team have it in his postgame press conference, calling the Spartans' effort "humiliating" and apologizing to the fans and even the building.

"This was humiliating for me to be in such a great city and in a great basketball venue, and our players did not play and I didn't have our players ready to play," Izzo said, his comments published by MLive.com. "The whole thing falls on me. But I'm just so tired of trying to explain why I don't see the daylight at the end of tunnel. I see us getting better, and then the minute I say it, we take that for granted.

"My apologies to this magnificent facility. ... I feel like we cheated those of you who have seen great teams and great coaches and great players play here. You got robbed today."

Penn State led for pretty much the whole game and shot better (46.4 percent compared to 41.1 percent). The Lions scored 16 points off 17 turnovers by the Spartans. Penn State had a 38-28 rebounding edge.

All those things drove Izzo nuts.

"I am embarrassed that in a city where basketball is like this that my team would play like they did in that first half," Izzo said. "We guarded nobody. We played with no energy. I was totally frustrated with the way we played. I guess I'm going to have to live with some of it and that's the problem with freshmen — up and down. But it was very discouraging."

Izzo started all four of his highly touted freshmen in Saturday's game. Miles Bridges played in his second game back from an ankle injury, and the rust has most definitely not worn off, Izzo evaluating his star at around 80-percent health.

But Bridges' effort was as much a topic of conversation as his health. This from MLive.com's Brendan F. Quinn:

Multiple times, Bridges was caught standing and watching, instead of running and rebounding. He missed one loose ball in the second half and got blistered on the court by junior point guard Tum Tum Nairn, and then sent to the bench.

But it sounds like Bridges was hardly the only one in green and white not to live up to Izzo's expectations.

And that's becoming an upsetting season-long theme for a program that annually challenges not just for conference championships but for a national championship.

This was the sixth loss of the season for Izzo's crew and the second that's come in somewhat embarrassing fashion. Non-conference losses to Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor and Duke could be excused due to the quality of the competition. But this loss to Penn State feels a little more like the defeat at the hands of Northeastern than it does other of those aforementioned losses.

This doesn't yet seem like your typical Izzo team, and while there's still time to iron these issues out, questions of effort and readiness with a young roster might linger long enough to yield a far less rosier than usual outlook for Michigan State come March.

Big Ten reportedly talking about expanding conference basketball schedule

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Big Ten reportedly talking about expanding conference basketball schedule

Conference play could be getting a bit longer in the Big Ten.

According to a Monday report from ESPN's Jeff Goodman, there are talks about expanding the Big Ten conference basketball schedule from 18 games to 20 games.

Commissioner Jim Delany told Goodman that while there hasn't been a vote among the league's coaches yet, there are ongoing discussions about lengthening conference play by a couple of games.

Conference play expanded a decade ago, when the number of league games jumped from 16 to 18 for the 2007-08 season.

In order for there to be enough days in between games for players, an expanded league schedule would mean the beginning of conference play coming earlier in December. Recently, conference play has typically started around New Year's. Of course, there will be a week earlier start to conference play this season with the Big Ten Tournament — at Madison Square Garden in New York — a week earlier than usual, wrapping a full week before Selection Sunday.

Similar moves have been made in football, with the Big Ten starting a nine-game conference slate last fall. It's meant league games in September — a no-no in the past — and this season will feature a conference matchup in the season's first week, when Indiana and Ohio State play on Aug. 31.

Expanding conference play in college basketball would have a similar effect as it has had on schedules in football. With fewer non-conference slots to fill, those games become more important to a team's NCAA tournament resume. It forces teams to schedule more high-profile opponents and eliminate games against small schools that generate little interest during the season's first couple months.

The ACC, a league that often runs neck and neck with the Big Ten in the debate over which is America's top basketball conference, announced it will be moving to a 20-game schedule last July, with that starting in the 2019-20 season.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo shared some thoughts on the subject with Goodman, saying he expects the move to happen.

"I personally see us going to a 20-game schedule," Izzo told Goodman. "I don't think there's any question it's going to happen — and I'm not overly against it."

Ohio State has its new head coach in Butler's Chris Holtmann

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Ohio State has its new head coach in Butler's Chris Holtmann

Ohio State found its next head basketball coach, going to one of Thad Matta's former employers to find the longtime coach's successor.

The school announced Friday morning that Butler head coach Chris Holtmann is the Buckeyes' new head coach.

Holtmann spent the past three seasons as the head coach at Butler, posting a 70-31 record and making NCAA tournament appearances in all three of those seasons, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in March. He was named the Big East Coach of the Year this past season.

Holtmann spent two seasons as an assistant at Ohio under former Illinois head coach John Groce, a former Matta assistant, before serving as the head coach at Gardner-Webb for three seasons. Holtmann left Gardner-Webb for an assistant-coaching job at Butler, though he was quickly promoted to interim head coach and then head coach in Indianapolis.

Holtmann takes over for Matta, who himself was the Butler head coach in the 2000-01 season before becoming the all-time wins leader at Ohio State. Matta's mostly successful tenure was ended earlier this week, when athletics director Gene Smith saw recruiting misses teaming with declining win totals to create a dip in Matta's success.

This week has been dominated by rumors and declarations of lack of interest from numerous candidates and possible candidates for the job. Xavier head coach Chris Mack and Creighton head coach Greg McDermott both made their decisions to stay at their current schools known via social media, and a report linking Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg to the job forced a no-interest comment from Hoiberg, too.

Despite those repeated "no thank yous," though, Ohio State is still seen to be one of the best jobs in college basketball thanks to one of the highest-profile athletics departments and one of the best conferences in the country, providing ample resources.

Recruiting will be a big expectation for Holtmann, as Matta's performance in that area dipped near the end of his tenure. The Buckeyes missed the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons, while Holtmann just took Butler to a No. 4 seed in the Big Dance, the highest in that program's history.