Key Returning Players:
Senior, Draymond Green #23- He is the team’s emotional leader, as well as on-the-floor captain. This team will go as he does. Can play anywhere and will. Expect big things from #23 DayDay.
Junior, Derrick Nix #25- Has had problems with the coaching staff in the past but has shown an improvement in maturity and this big body could be a big problem for opposing teams this year. Has lost weight, making him look more lean and trim.
Sophomore, Keith Appling #11- He will handle the majority of the point guard duties this season and needs to have the confidence that he’s the man now. Plays a lot like his predecessor, Kalin Lucas, but he’s still a big question mark for the time being.
Sophomore, Adreian Payne #5- Payne played some decent minutes as a freshman and showed a lot of potential. He made a lot of freshman mistakes, but also proved why he was highly recruited- the freak athleticism he displays. Needs to rebound more this season.
Kalin Lucas- A torn Achilles tendon his junior year limited his skills but still played tough for Coach Izzo in his last season. He led the team in scoring and minutes played last year so he will be missed the most.
Durrell Summers- He was a disappointment in 2010-2011, just couldn’t ever get it going. But he was always respected as a threat by opponents, and was the team’s third-leading scorer last year.
Delvon Roe- Delvon Roe announced he would be retiring from basketball last month. A career plagued by knee injuries, Roe was never able to be the player he was expected to be out of high school. His grind it out, blue-collar attitude and work ethic will be a huge loss for the Spartans.
Dwaun Anderson- Anderson was supposed to play for the Spartans this season after winning the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award at Suttons Bay. However, he left the team before ever suiting up due to personal issues, not team-related.
No More Distractions- This team seems to be a lot more mature than last season’s, despite their youth. Last year’s team had a handful of distractions, with Chris Allen being dismissed from the team before the season started and guard Korie Lucious being suspended for the remainder of the season midway through.
The New Guys- Senior guard Brandon Wood will join the Spartans this season after graduating from Valparaiso University where he starred on the court. Wood is eligible after deciding to come to MSU to track a master’s degree. A guy with his experience and talent level will drastically help MSU this season. He is expected to start and contribute greatly. Branden Dawson might be a true freshman but he will be in the starting lineup as a big guard to compete. My favorite part about Dawson’s game is his tenacity; he drives the ball, rebounds and plays defense- Izzo’s type of player. Travis Trice will be the backup point guard for the Spartans. He will not see a ton of time this season but will be able to relieve Appling at the point which will also enable him to slide over to shooting guard. Izzo has said he’s been impressed with Trice’s ‘feistiness’, which has to be a good sign as a point guard.
Youth and Inexperience- Let’s be honest, Draymond Green and Keith Appling are the only ones who have played major minutes for the Spartans. Sure, Brandon Wood has a couple seasons under his belt, but they were at Valparaiso University- a team that plays in the Horizon League. It may be quite an adjustment for him playing in the tougher Big Ten Conference daily. Losing Delvon Roe on the squad is a major blow that State will have to try to overcome.
Tough Schedule- This schedule shouldn’t be a surprise to Spartan fans, as Izzo always schedules a rough road. But, MSU plays its first two games against #1 North Carolina and #6 Duke- perhaps the two biggest powerhouses in the country. Both games are on big stages (UNC @ USS Carl Vinson and Duke @ Madison Square Garden). The Big Ten is going to be one of the best conferences in the country as well, and with some big away games, winning on the road is crucial.
Season Outlook: This team will be more successful than last year’s, even if their record winds up being similar. They have less talent and experience, but their grit and “Izzo-style” basketball will make them contenders. I only expect about 20 wins this season (which might be considered a disappointment given MSU’s tournament runs the past couple of years), but they will surprise teams. Draymond Green will have a stellar season as expected. Look for the Spartans to get back to playing MSU basketball- running the floor, playing defense and rebounding.
Likely Starting Roster:
Michigan State plays their first game on November 11th, 2011, against North Carolina in the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic broadcasted by ESPN.
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