Michigan State Basketball: How MSU Should Capitalize on Soft Upcoming Schedule

A soft upcoming schedule has Michigan State primed to climb the national rankings and move closer to securing Tom Izzo‘s eighth Big Ten championship. However, in order to capitalize, State must approach these contests with the same value that they would against the more prominent conference foes.

Its upcoming games feature home contests against Penn State, Northwestern and Nebraska. Michigan State will also travel to face a plummeting Wisconsin squad on Feb. 9 and then visit Purdue on Feb. 20.

With the exception of their showdown in Madison against the Badgers, the Spartans will be heavily favored to prevail in all of the aforementioned contests.

In addition to this manageable stretch of games, All-Big Ten forward Adreian Payne should return from a foot injury. State has dreadfully needed his scoring abilities, as the team hasn’t eclipsed 80 points in its last six contests. But he must err on the side of caution upon his return.

Payne and Michigan State will look to improve to 20-3 overall and 9-1 in the conference in Thursday’s home contest against Penn State. Here is how the Spartans must approach their upcoming five-game stretch.

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Clippers Swingman Matt Barnes Calls the NBA ‘So Soft Now’ on Twitter

Please don’t ever change, Matt Barnes

The Los Angeles Clippers swingman spent his Monday night watching an old-school, 1985-style battle between the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, and it didn’t make him look too favorably upon the current style of play in the NBA.

Hand checks are indeed disallowed now, but there are quite a few people who might disagree with Barnes’ assessment.

Kobe Bryant, for example.

There’s nothing “soft” about the failure to flinch when a ball is thrust into your face. Soft human beings would recoil in fear or at least blink rapidly. Hell, normal human beings are supposed to reflexively do that.

If anything, Barnes should be thankful the league isn’t allowed to stick a hand out and slow down offensive players anymore. It has allowed him to become a more valuable player, as he’s able to play elite defense and stand out against the crowd.

The 33-year-old just had the best season of his career, helping the Clippers with his glue-guy mentality and great defensive skills. In fact, according to Basketball-Reference, L.A. allowed 4.7 fewer points per 100 possessions when Barnes was on the court.

Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Larry Bird and Robert Parish probably provided a nice contrast in style. I have no doubt that what Barnes watched during his free time stood out in stark contrast to modern-day NBA play.

After all, Barnes would know better than most.

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Griffin eager to prove he’s not soft

Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin told ESPN that he’s not “soft” and is willing to prove it – off the court. “I’ve never really worried about being called soft or people thinking I’m soft,” said Griffin. “If anybody wants to step and take that challenge I’m more than happy — off the court — 

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Hawks coach Drew calls out team for playing soft (Yahoo! Sports)

Atlanta Hawks head coach Larry Drew shouts instructions during the first half of Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Indiana Pacers, Sunday, April 21, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

ATLANTA (AP) — On the flight back to Atlanta, Hawks coach Larry Drew watched tape of his team getting pushed around in Game 1 of the playoffs.

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A ‘soft’ Kentucky team steps closer to the edge with loss at Arkansas

The Wildcats don’t have any bad losses, but they might not have the wins to make the NCAAs.

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Report: Kobe called teammates soft

Throughout his career, Kobe Bryant has earned a reputation for being one of the most mentally tough and competitive players in the NBA. He will play in conditions that other players wouldn’t dream of. Bryant’s will to win and to be the best are his defining characteristics as a player. Mike Bresnahan reports that on [...]

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Thunder can’t afford to play soft in paint

Coach Scott Brooks must get the Oklahoma City Thunder, with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, to play tough vs. LeBron James and the Miami H …

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Pacers, Heat respond to Bird’s ‘soft’ comment (Yahoo! Sports)

Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem (40) reacts after being called for a flagrant foul against Indiana Pacers' Tyler Hansbrough during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, in Miami on Tuesday, May 22, 2012. At left is referee Derrick Stafford. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI (AP) Larry Bird called the Indiana Pacers soft. His team agreed. LeBron James thought otherwise.

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Larry Bird calls Pacers ‘soft’ after Heat loss

Pacers President Larry Bird called his team “soft” after a 115-83 demolition by the Heat on Tuesday night.

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Larry Bird: Pacers ‘went soft’

#bbpBox_205159847086403585 a { text-decoration:none; color:#0084B4; }#bbpBox_205159847086403585 a:hover { text-decoration:underline; }RT @MikeWellsNBA: Larry Bird: “I can’t believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”8 minutes ago via TweetDeckReplyRetweetFavorite@sam_amickSam Amick
Larry Bird has done an excellent job with the Indiana Pacers, but even he was appalled by how his team played Tuesday night against the Miami Heat. The team seemed to wilt in the third quarter and Bird was not happy about it. In fact, Bird called the team he built “soft.”
See, I am not 100 percent certain they played soft, but they did play scared. The Heat were almost gleeful in getting some cheap shots in on the Pacers. The team did not fight back. There needs to be a time when you take a stand and deliver a shot that shows you will not be intimidated.
Larry Bird played back in the 1980s when the competition was much stron…

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