Michigan State Basketball Preview: #3
Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten Conference
2008-09: 31-7, 15-3
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tom Izzo (336-137 at Michigan State, 336-137 overall)
Michigan State was one game away from winning a National Championship in their own backyard, but once again North Carolina got the best of the Spartans. Still, MSU had a very successful season and there's no reason not to shoot for another Final Four appearance, but that is what Coach Tom Izzo always aims for.
Key Losses: F Marquise Gray, C Idong Ibok, C Goran Suton, G Travis Walton
The big losses are in the frontcourt and Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman will have to play a role on this team when the Spartans want to play big. Both freshmen are traditional back to the basket players and that is exactly what this team needs. Nix needs to continue to drop a little weight and add a little muscle, but he is the likely candidate to help replace the loss of Goran Suton and Marquise Gray, although Sherman will certainly get an opportunity as well.
Kalin Lucas has turned into the star of this team after winning the conference’s Player of the Year Award during his sophomore campaign. Lucas led the team with 14.7 points and 4.6 assists per game and is ready to become the unquestioned leader of the team. And that will be very important since Travis Walton is no longer around to help him out. Korie Lucious will take over the backup point guard duties and could be in for a big year after an inconsistent freshman campaign. Durrell Summers and Chris Allen will dominate the playing time on the wings. Summers is a great athlete who also knocks down the outside shot, but it is Allen who is the best shooter on this team. He just needs to figure that out and start being more consistent.
A couple freshmen were roleplayers last year and need to step up and become bigger contributors this time around. Delvon Roe was slowed by injuries early in the year, but he showed plenty of promise and ended up starting 31 games. His scoring output needs to improve, but he has already proven that he can be a great rebounder and a decent shot blocker. Draymond Green is undersized to play the four spot, but he makes up for it with his toughness. Largely unnoticed during the regular season, Green came on strong at the end of his freshman campaign and should be ready to make a big impact off the bench. Ideally those two are power forwards, leaving Tom Herzog as the only returning player who is really a center and Herzog rarely played last season.
Who to Watch:
Unless Herzog or one of the freshmen are on the floor, Roe will have to play the center position and that leaves the 6-8 Raymar Morgan at the four spot. Ideally, Morgan would be a small forward, but no matter where he plays, he will put up some great numbers…especially if he can stay healthy. In a season that was marred with injuries, Morgan still managed to rank second on the team in points and rebounds.
The absence of Suton and his outside shooting, not to mention his rebounding ability will be missed. However, Coach Izzo played small most of last year and putting Roe under the basket with Morgan at the four spot is nothing new. In fact, that will allow the Spartans to run even more and capitalize on the talent in the backcourt. It would be beneficial if somebody emerged as a consistent low post scorer and defender, but even if this team plays small, Coach Izzo will not let last year’s best rebounding team get beat on the glass.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Kalin Lucas, Junior, Guard, 14.7 points per game
Chris Allen, Junior, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Durrell Summers, Junior, Guard, 8.6 points per game
Raymar Morgan, Senior, Forward, 10.2 points per game
Delvon Roe, Sophomore, Forward, 5.6 points per game
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