Big Ten Conference Play: Midterm Evaluations-Michigan State Spartans Basketball

Because Michigan State University functions on a 4.0-based scale, I will be handing out grades for players based on that. Let’s take a look at the grading margin:

There will be no opportunity for extra credit at this point.

# Name Position Class Midterm Grade
#11 Appling, Keith G SO B+
#0 Byrd, Russell G RS FR C
#14 Chapman, Dan G SO *
#22 Dawson, Branden G FR B
#2 Gauna, Alex F RS FR C+
#23 Green, Draymond F SR A+
#44 Ianni, Anthony C RS SR *
#3 Kearney, Brandan G FR B-
#25 Nix, Derrick C JR B+
#5 Payne, Adreian C SO C+
#13 Thornton, Austin G RS SR C
#20 Trice, Travis G FR B+
#15 Wetzel, Keenan G RS FR *
#30 Wood, Brandon G RS SR B


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Appling, Keith- Has done a great job as starting point guard, but we still want more. He needs more confidence and consistency to be considered elite in the Big Ten. He seems to be able to take anybody off the dribble at any point. The sky is the limit for him as far as his potential goes.

Byrd, Russell- Has battled illness, as well as injury. Maybe it’s not fair to grade him at this point considering he’s played limited minutes, but I think the Spartans expected more from him at this point in the season. Confident we will see it soon from him.

Dawson, Branden- He hasn’t always been on top of his game (it happens with all freshmen), but when he is, look out. This kid will be a star. His athletic ability is boundless. Spartan fans better hope he stays healthy and sticks around a couple of years. It’s good news he’s starting to play his best ball of the year right now.

Gauna, Alex- Has started to knock down shots when he gets the opportunity. Had a slow start, but has improved throughout the season. There will be a game when the Spartans really need him- so when he’s called upon, we’ll see how he responds.

Green, Draymond- Can’t say enough about him. He is easily the most valuable player on the team, and arguably the most valuable player in the Big Ten as well. Had a knee injury versus Illinois, but it doesn’t seem too bad considering his efforts versus Michigan. If he’s healthy and clicking, so is the rest of the team. MSU goes as Draymond does.

(Coaching) Izzo, Tom- I really don't ever want to hear anyone say he's not a great coach; he's one of the best in the nation. But, some of his late-game decisions down the stretch this year have been questionable (Games @ Michigan and @ Illinois). It doesn't worry me though, "Mr. March" will prove he's deserving of that nickname. Coach Izzo also reached a milestone this year; 400 wins, so that's deserving of praise. Grade: B

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Kearney, Brandan- Has stepped up since not playing much at the beginning of the season, but has also made some serious freshman mistakes. Coach Izzo said, “he has done way more than I thought he would do." If he keeps playing tough defense, he’ll have a bright future.

Nix, Derrick- Nix has surprisingly been the best big man for Michigan State besides Draymond Green. His free throw shooting has improved over the years and his consistency has too. Keep giving him the ball on the block and let him do work with his baby hook shots.

Payne, Adreian- Still waiting for Payne to take over a game. He jumps as well as anybody in the league, and we’ve seen tons of thunderous dunks. Yet he occasionally looks lost on defense on that’s an issue.

Thornton, Austin- Received one of the worst grades on the team because of what is expected of him as a senior. His confidence is a big question mark, and turnovers have been an issue. His effort and hustle plays, however, have never been questioned. He has also started to shoot better the past couple of games, and was placed in the starting lineup against Michigan.

Trice, Travis- As a true freshman backup point guard, you can’t ask for much more from Trice. He’s made the typical freshman mistakes but he understands his role and has exceeded expectations. Currently battling a groin injury but has played on it. His contribution is perhaps the biggest surprise of the season.

Wood, Brandon- He’s the third biggest threat on the offensive side of the ball. Apparently he wants to become more of a defensive force, so watch for that as conference play continues. Was taken out of the starting lineup against Michigan, but responded with his most complete game of the season.

*Chapman, Dan         *=Insufficient amount of minutes played to give fair grade.

*Ianni, Anthony

*Wetzel, Keenan

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