EAST LANSING, Mich. – Tom Izzo joked that he would be banished back home to Michigan's Upper Peninsula if he disciplined current players such as Durrell Summers as he did when Morris Peterson needed tough love before helping Michigan State win the 2000 national championship.
"I'd be shoveling snow in the U.P.," Izzo said Monday.
The struggling Spartans (12-7, 4-3) have slumped to No. 25 in the latest Associated Press poll after being ranked No. 2 in the preseason.
"I look at our record right now as disturbing," Izzo said.
Michigan State is having trouble meeting expectations in large part because its best players aren't at the top of their games.
Senior guards Kalin Lucas and Summers haven't consistently played well for different reasons.
Lucas, who was the Big Ten's player of the year as a sophomore and was picked to win the award this season, hasn't been able to regain his form after rupturing his left Achilles' tendon in last year's NCAA tournament.
But Lucas insisted it hasn't been difficult for him to still be a leader.
"My main thing is to lead by example," he said.
Summers can't stay focused long enough to let his talent shine.
Izzo isn't in the mood to passively wait for that to change, recalling what he told him at halftime of Saturday night's loss at Purdue.
"I told him, 'If you don't guard better, you're playing might be done here,'" Izzo said.
Summers said that inspired him to slow down E'Twaun Moore after letting him make a lot of uncontested shots before halftime.
"It made me fire back on the other team," Summers said. "In the second half, he put me on Moore. The whole time I was on him, he didn't score. That showed me, if I continue to do that for the whole game, we would be a different team."
Izzo defended Kentucky coach John Calipari, who was caught by cameras swearing at one of his players last week and led to him apologizing for his language.
Izzo, though, doesn't plan to say he's sorry if he's filmed or recorded doing the same to a Summers.
"If someone catches me swear at him on TV, grin and bear it because that's what it's going to be," Izzo said.
Peterson heard it all and then some during his career at Michigan State, where he redshirted his first season and led the Spartans along with Mateen Cleaves to the national championship 11 years ago as a fifth-year senior.
The Oklahoma City Thunder guard laughed Monday when he heard about what Izzo said about disciplining him.
He said the hard-driving coach probably wanted to punch him when he was an immature underclassman.
Peterson said he'll never forget one form of discipline that helped him become a better student, person and player.
Izzo didn't let Peterson travel with the team to the Maui Invitational after he missed one too many classes as a freshman.
"I was too embarrassed to go home to face my parents in Flint and I couldn't go to my dorm room because of the holiday break," Peterson recalled. "So, I slept in the players' lounge the whole time the team was in Hawaii. I slept, showered and shot every day while the team was gone.
"I learned a valuable lesson and hopefully these guys will listen and learn, too, because coach knows what he's talking about when he gets on them."
Michigan State might have a chance to build some confidence, playing the three teams tied for last place in the Big Ten: Michigan, Indiana and Iowa.
Izzo has been relatively pleased with some of the progress in his team, which was stunted by several offseason surgeries, but said the results have to change soon.
"Eventually, you've got to win some games," Izzo said.