#2 Michigan St: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten Conference
2009-10: 28-9, 14-4
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tom Izzo (364-146 at Michigan State, 364-146 overall)
Michigan State made yet another trip to the Final Four in 2010, but fell short of another National Championship at the hands of Butler in the semifinals. The Spartans return a ton of experience and have a nice group of newcomers as well. That should add up to another battle for a Big Ten title, but as usual, Coach Tom Izzo has scheduled a tough slate for his team and the only results that matter will come in March and possibly April.
Key Losses: G Chris Allen, F Raymar Morgan
The dismissal of guard Chris Allen will affect the team’s perimeter depth, but Keith Appling is ready to fill the void. Voted Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, the 6-2 freshman can handle the point or move off the ball and do some scoring. He will likely be asked to do both right away. Russell Byrd could add some more depth eventually, but the 6-7 small forward broke his foot in early October and will likely be out until January. The frontcourt adds Alex Gauna and Adreian Payne. Payne is a superb defender and should be a great shot blocker from day one if he can stay healthy.
The starters on the perimeter will remain intact from last season if everybody can get healthy and stay out of trouble. Kalin Lucas spent his summer recovering from a torn Achilles and his mentality heading into the season will likely be a bigger issue than the actual injury. After leading MSU with 14.8 points and 4.0 assists, the Spartans need him to be the leader on the floor. Korie Lucious is dealing with some injuries and off-court issues, but he could step into a full-time starting role at the point. Like Lucas, Lucious is a decent outside shooter, but Lucious is more of a true point guard and rarely finishes around the basket. Yet, if Lucious can run the point most of the time, Lucas can concentrate more on scoring. Shooting, scoring and finishing above the rim is what wing Durrell Summers does best. The 6-4 senior averaged 11.3 points per game last year and added an impressive 4.7 rebounds.
Delvon Roe is ready to blossom into a superstar as long as he can stay healthy. Roe has been hampered by injuries since before he even arrived in East Lansing. Yet, right now he is as healthy as he has been in a long time and should become the dominating force in the paint that many expected from the 6-8, 230 pound junior. He is a very capable scorer in the paint and a strong rebounder and now he just has to put it all together. Derrick Nix, a 6-8, 280 pound center, had an impressive freshman campaign despite only averaging 7.8 minutes per contest. He started 16 games because he has the hustle and skills Coach Tom Izzo likes out of his big men, but now he should be ready to play closer to starter minutes instead of just starting. Garrick Sherman is another young big man who should see increased playing time.
Who to Watch:
Draymond Green will likely replace Raymar Morgan in the starting lineup. However, Green has been a superb sixth man for the last two years. The 6-6, 235 pound junior is in the best shape he has been in since arriving on the banks of the Red Cedar and is the heart and soul of this team. Green is always around to make a play and his versatility is extremely impressive. After averaging 9.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals as a sophomore, Green should be in for a big year and garner some national attention.
This Michigan State team will have to rely on some freshmen, most notably Appling, in the backcourt, but the frontcourt is actually healthy and that should make the best rebounding team in the nation even better on the glass. What could improve the most with this group is the defense due to the shot blocking abilities of Payne, Roe and Green. Neither Roe or Green are that great in that department individually, but Morgan was more of a wing who played power forward and having two bruisers in the paint most of the time should help the overall defense.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Korie Lucious, Junior, Guard, 5.6 ppg
Kalin Lucas, Senior, Guard, 14.8 ppg
Durrell Summers, Senior, Guard, 11.3 ppg
Draymond Green, Junior, Forward, 9.9 ppg
Delvon Roe, Junior, Forward, 6.4 ppg
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