2011-12 ITH Season Preview: Michigan State Spartans

  • 10/06/2011 8:10 am in

With the college basketball season inching closer, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next few weeks. Today, we continue our team previews with a look at the Michigan State Spartans.

Michigan State tipped off the 2010-2011 season as one of the teams expected to contend for a national championship.

When the dust settled, the Spartans were 19-15 following a 78-76 loss to UCLA on the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament. It was a fitting end to a tumultuous season in East Lansing. After trailing by as many as 23 points in the second half to the Bruins, Tom Izzo’s club battled back, but ultimately fell just short in the end.

Michigan State was once again of the Big Ten’s best rebounding teams as they finished second in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Other than that, it was a marginal year statistically. The Spartans were last in the conference in effective field goal percentage (47.3) and tenth in adjusted offensive efficiency. They also failed to take care of the ball as their turnover percent (18.4) ranked eighth in the league.

Kalin Lucas never returned to the form he displayed as a sophomore or junior following a ruptured achilles tendon during the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Durrell Summers, who looked to be on the verge of finally breaking out, was wildly inconsistent. All in all, it was a season that Michigan State fans would love to forget.

This year’s version of the Spartans should be headed for the upper half of the Big Ten, but plenty of questions remain.

In the front court, Izzo recently lost his best defensive big man, Delvon Roe, who opted to retire due to chronic knee problems. Draymond Green looks like one of the best players in the conference, but junior Derrick Nix and sophomore Adrien Payne will need to saddle larger roles. Freshman Branden Dawson, a native of Gary, arrives with McDonald’s All-American accolades and an appetite for rebounds (18.6 as a high school senior).

Keith Appling, who shot 41 percent from the 3-point line as a freshman, and Brandon Wood, a transfer from Valparaiso with immediately eligibility, will anchor the backcourt. Wood (17.2 ppg at Valpo) fills the spot vacated by Korie Lucious, who transferred to Iowa State after being suspended indefinitely last January. Travis Trice, a freshman point guard, should also figure into the rotation.

Bottom line: Michigan State should extend its NCAA Tournament appearance streak to 15, but they’re clearly a notch behind Ohio State and Wisconsin in the Big Ten pecking order. Izzo will quickly find out what his team is made of as the Spartans play North Carolina and Duke in their first two games.

Quotable: “It will come down to how we deal with some adversity. You can get rocked by that, especially young guys. But I think we will. I think we have a better mentality right now. So we’re working hard to get our defense back, our toughness back, our family atmosphere back. We’re a closer-knit group and we’re emphasizing the leadership.” – Izzo to The Detroit News on September 29.

PreviouslyNebraska, MinnesotaPenn State, Iowa, NorthwesternIllinois, Purdue

All stats in this piece are from KenPom.

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  • eph521

    In my house we root for IU first and MSU second. I bleed red and white for sure, but admire the green and white too.

    Over the years, I have been a big MSU fan, and notably a Tom Izzo fan. His consistency over the years has been superb, although I wish he could have won more championships given the frequency his teams made it to the Final Four.

    Lest we forget, it was Tom Izzo who had Crean’s back the first two terrible years of Crean’s tenure at IU… it was Izzo who told anyone who would listen that Tom Crean WILL get IU Basketball back on top.

  • iujunebug

    I completely agree. We have always rooted for the Spartans as long as they are not playing IU.  Tom Izzo is a great coach, and I am still thrilled that he didn’t jump ship to the NBA. It would have helped IU in the short run (maybe), but it would hurt the Big Ten in the long run.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I feel the same way.  I respect Michigan State and I respect Wisconsin (both football and basketball with the Badgers).  Classy coaches, never a hint of NCAA trouble, solid programs.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Everyone (including myself) kept waiting for Delvon Roe and Kalin Lucas to step it up but they were never capable of reaching that next level and propelling MSU back near the top of the conference.  Draymond Green is a tough matchup and a guy who just makes things happen.  Derrick Nix and Adrian Payne are average Big Ten players.  If they improve quite a bit on the offensive end, MSU will be much better. 

    Brandon Wood was a nice pickup and he will be an interesting fit at MSU.  He took a lot of shots for Valpo and I am not sure if Izzo will allow the same kind of gunning from a guard who just entered the program.  The X-Factor for the Spartans is going to be Branden Dawson.  In my opinion, he is going to be a great player for MSU and his rebounding and interior presence is going to be difficult to handle.  That being said, Zeller showed on a couple of occassions in high school that he is very capable of going toe-to-toe with Dawson.  I think MSU cuts down on the turnovers and gets back to 20 wins this season.  I have them finishing behind OSU and Wisconsin in a cluttered Big Ten race for second place.

  • jbg1998

    Ah yes… Bielema is quite the classy guy!!  Really?

  • Anonymous

    Brandon Wood will definitely be a solid addition for sparty.  I think Dawson will be too, but I’m not so sure how polished he will be as a freshman.  But I’d be scared come next year.

  • Anonymous

    Izzo had a string of recruiting classes that had too many busts and it came to head last year.  They’re going to be really young but I bet he has fun coaching them this season. 

    If Payne is ready to fulfill the potential that led to a 5-star rating out of high school, they’ll be fine in the front court.  Otherwise, Nix is a bust, Sherman transferred, Roe retired, and both Green and Dawson are SFs.  The just don’t have any other options inside.

    As Alex pointed out, if they don’t fix the turnovers, not much else matters.  Appling doesn’t inspire confidence as he has one of the 3 or 4 worst turnover rates among Big Ten guards.

  • CreamandCrimson

    What’s the problem with Bielema?  He runs the score up?  That doesn’t bother me. 
    I don’t need to defend Wisconsin or their coaches, doesn’t matter what you or I think.  I enjoy watching the Badgers and I will continue to root for them against everyone but IU.

  • Anonymous

    It seemed they tried to move him out to the perimeter and use him like they used to use Raymar Morgan…as a 3 who helps out in the post.  Due to lack of contributors in the post he had to fill in at the 4, but it seemed to me they really wanted him more perimeter oriented (similar to Watford).  He knows he’ll have to be a SF if he’s gonna make it in the NBA.

    I checked his numbers on Pomeroy’s page and his rebounding % went down, he shot 101 3’s (up from 17 total in first two years), and only shot 45% from 2 (down from 55% and 56% the previous years). 

    But then again, I could be wrong…it’s just an observation.