Can you believe that the Spartans are already 8 months removed from their magical final four run and narrowly loosing to the underdog Butler Bulldogs? For me personally I couldn’t be happier to get the season rolling and I am looking forward to watching this year’s squad contend for a national title. First and foremost the Spartans have many hurdles that they will have to overcome to obtain their number two ranking and advance through the rigorous college basketball season. Starting December 1st, they have to go up against reigning champ Duke who just so happens to be the pre-season number 1, then the Spartans have a game at number 13 Syracuse and conclude their non-conference schedule against number 25 Texas. If Izzo and the gang can escape their early season schedule with just one loss it’ll be remarkable and give them a lot of confidence coming in to Big Ten play. Here are a few notes that I’ll be keeping my eye on as the season progresses.
First off for Michigan State to be successful this year they are going to need to nurture standout recruits Keith Appling and Adreain Payne into the Spartans system to provide depth towards tournament time. Appling a 6-2 guard from Detroit and Payne a 6-10 beast from Dayton,Ohio are expected to fill voids left by Chris Allen (transferred to Iowa St) and previously graduated big man, Raymar Morgan. Appling was rated as the 25th ranked recruit in this years class while Payne was ranked 26th and are going to help MSU attack teams in a lot of different ways. Scouts take on Payne is that he has all the tools to be a great post player . He has good feet, runs very well, and has good ball handling skills for his size. Only draw backs scouts had about his game is that he needs to add more muscle and bring more of a consistent work ethic. Strength and work ethic are two things Tom Izzo can teach Payne over his tenure and help maximize his production with his already gifted ability. Appling has an overall good outlook from scouts and is prided on his defensive effort and his knack for scoring. Don’t be surprised if Appling makes his way in to the starting lineup tomorrow night against East Michigan.
The recruiting class coming will benefit an already tremendous group for the Spartans and will pose huge matchup problems for every team because of MSU’s ability to go big or small with the depth of their bench. MSU returns leading scorer and point guard Kalin Lucas ( 14.8 ppg and 4.0 apg) who will shoulder much of opposing teams attention because of his sharp three point shooting in key situations ( shot 45% from 3 point range last year). Although if you focus to much on Lucas then you run the risk of leaving other capable shooters like Korie Lucious, Durrell Summers, and Draymond Green open, who can all put the ball on the floor and take advantage of open shots. Lucious was streaky in his sophomore year but having more of a prominent role in this years offense could be just the right recipe for him to breakout. I think the biggest mystery player this year will be forward Delvin Roe who for the first time in his Spartan career is injury free and at 100% healthy. He’ll demand big minutes this year going up against the Big Tens elite forwards and could be the measure of how far the Spartans go in March.
The starting five of the Spartans have made the final four the past 2 seasons and their experience should be what ultimately gets them to the next level this season and help them back up all this national title talk. First order of business is not overlooking any team on their schedule in anticipation of bigger games against Duke and Syracuse and bringing it every night no matter who they’re playing. A loaded Non-conference schedule and playing against hefty big ten opponents like # 4 Ohio State , # 12 Illinois, #13 Purdue, and upstarts Wisconsin will prepare the team for March and surviving the Big Ten schedule could be their biggest test. I hope you fans are as excited as I am for another banner year courtesy of the Michigan State Spartans.
About the Author
Written by Colin Teskey
I Started watching sports at the ripe age of 4 when Michael Jordan was leading the Chicago Bulls to their second three-peat and sixth NBA title. It was through Jordan’s play that inspired me to become an avid sports fan and that you can accomplish anything through hard work. Sports are remarkable in how they can capture your everyday life by leaving you speechless after some spectacular play, leave you depressed after your home team loses, and lift and entire city to its feet( New Orleans Saints).My favorite Sports Teams go as followed for Basebal,l I am a die hard Blue Jays Fan. Gotta rep Canada on this one as the Toronto Blue Jays are the only Canadian team left now that the Expos packed up and left. Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, and Doc Halladay are my all time favorite Jays. For Football, I've pledged my allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles. I became a fan when the Mcnabb and T.O show were in town and both helped lead the Eagles all the way to the Superbowl in 2004. My next two favourite teams are my top two and the ones I follow the closest. As I alluded to earlier Michael Jordan was who I grew up watching so I naturally became a Bulls Fan. The Bulls of the nineties were by far the best team ever assembled and I challenge anybody who argues that. Micheal Jordan deserves a lot of credit but he wouldn't have been nearly the player he was without Pippen, Rodman, and many more great teamates. I can't even see the current Miami Heat roster breaking the 95-95 teams record of going 72-10 which may never be broken.My all time Favorite team are the Ottawa Senators. I bleed red and gold and will always be a Sens fan no matter how bad they are. Growing up in Ottawa, I've seen the team go from an expansion team nightmare to one of the premier organizations in the game. They have fallen on hard times recently but my favorite moment as a Sens fan came in the 2007 playoff when Alfie scored on Ryan Miller to send Ottawa to the Cup! When Ottawa went to the Cup the city went in to a frenzy and is something I'll never forget. The current rebuild in Ottawa will take It's toll on the fans, however I know we will be celebrating another cup run in the future.