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Spartan hoops : thoughts from the Maui invitational

Posted By Colin Teskey On Nov 26 2010 @ 2:05 pm In NCAABK | No Comments

Heading into Maui for the Maui Invitational has always been a great building block  for the Spartans in years past as MSU is 13-7 lifetime when coming down to Hawaii for the early season festivities. It was a great opportunity for some of Michigan State’s bench players to see some floor time and gain some experience and build confidence for the season. This time around in Maui the Spartans did not breeze right through the competition and dominate like their number 2 billing would indicate. First suffering a scare against a division 2 school Chaminade, the Spartans were dealt a rude awakening by a team playing with a serious chip on their shoulder and shell shocking MSU early by taking a 33-25 lead. Chaminade’s 5’6 guard, Steven Bennett set the tempo for the small school by cutting fearlessly to the lane time after time , and scoring 20 points and playing nearly every minute. The strong, fearless play of the Chaminade point guard caused The Spartans to have to readjust themselves,  and start taking the game more seriously but in the second half they eventually started to pull away. Thanks to a surge of three pointers from Korie Lucious the Spartans were able to avenge the upset hopefuls from Chaminade going on a 20-3 run to put the scary Silverswords’ hope to rest.

However after putting together a more complete game in the second half and avoiding an embarrassing loss at the hands of Chaminade, the Spartans weren’t able to hold of Uconn the following night.  The Spartans were surprisingly well matched by unranked Uconn, and had no answer for Kemba Walker who has arguably been the best player in the country so far this year. Walker, a senior, finished with a game high 30 points and hit the key game winning shot with 52 seconds left giving UCONN the edge 70-67.    It was a back and forth tilt, with defensive intensity being the overall theme on the night,  as both teams were tied a total of nine times . The turning point in the game came in the dying seconds when Kalin Lucas turned the ball over when the Spartans were down by two, throwing an errant pass out of bounds with no Spartan in sight to receive the pass. UCONN went on to play number 9 ranked Kentucky in the final and ended up crushing the Wildcats 84-67 improving their record to 5-0 on the year. Following the loss to Uconn , MSU rebounded against number 11 ranked Washington and finished third in the Maui invitational and has some confidence to build on when they play Tennessee Tech and Duke over the next week.

MSU has a lot to take away from the Tournament and got well-rounded performances from Kalin Lucas, Draymond Green, Korie Lucious and Durrell Summers. Right now Michigan State is shooting .529 % from the field so far this season while holding their opponents to .329 % and five different Spartans are shooting at least 50% from three point range. This list includes  Keith Appling (.750),  Austin Thornton (.600), Draymond Green (.571),Durrell Summers(.500), Korie Lucious(.500). All of these guys are lethal when left unguarded and pose a serious threat for opposing defenses when matching up against the Spartans depth. The questions concerning Kalin Lucas’s ankle have been put to rest at least for now,  with his solid play in the early going averaging 18 ppg and shooting 49.2% from the field.  Probably the biggest contributor for the Spartans has been Draymond Green, who continues to fill the stat sheet every night. He’s averaging 13.3 ppg, 10 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 3.3 steals per game. Major efforts from Green and Lucas during the Maui Invitational are going to have to continue for the Spartans going forward as the road only gets tougher having to play # 1 Duke December first then playing at number 10 Syracuse a week later. Overall the Maui Invitational was a great tune up for the 2010-2011 season and has given me a good taste of what to expect from the Spartans the rest of the way.

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