2012-13 Division I Basketball Preview: Michigan State has intriguing options to replace Draymond Green’s immense production, leadership
October 24, 2012 in Division I
It’s hard to believe, but college basketball season is almost here. This week, we’ll preview Michigan’s seven Division I schools.
By Pardeep Toor
At a glance
- Coach: Tom Izzo, 18th season
- Last year: 29-8, 13-5, Big 10 regular season and tournament champion
- Conference: Big 10
- Key losses: Draymond Green, Austin Thornton, Brandon Wood
- Key additions: Gary Harris (freshman from Indiana), Matt Costello (freshman from Bay City Western), Kenny Kaminski (freshman from Ohio), Denzel Valentine (freshman from Lansing Sexton)
- Team website
- Team roster
- Team schedule
- Michigan State news on BallinMichigan
- News – The Only Colors
Apart from constantly griping over the loss of Green, Izzo is feeling the best he has felt in years about this Michigan State team and at times appears to be literally gushing over the mix of incoming talent and experienced veterans he has assembled.
Apparently it’s senior center Derrick Nix, who was named team captain by his peers along with Russell Byrd, but it’s more likely the depth on the perimeter that will allow Izzo to extend the defense for the entire game and possibly play at Oregon football speed (the fastest) on the offensive end. Keith Appling, Russell Byrd, Brandan Kearney, Travis Trice, Branden Dawson and Harris should all see significant minutes on the perimeter this season with Dawson possibly shifting to the power forward spot at times as well.
A veteran frontcourt of Adreian Payne and Nix that produces a combined 20 points and 12 rebounds would also be considered a strength but it remains to be seen whether Nix can replicate his improvements last season in a larger role. Nix needs to be a strength if the Spartans are to make a Final Four run this season because he’s the only potential source for easy baskets as the majority of the scoring load will fall on perimeter players. When those outside jumpers don’t fall, like they didn’t versus Louisville in last year’s Sweet 16, Nix, with his size advantage over almost everyone, will or should be looked upon to stop the bleeding.
Also, Gary Harris.
Last year, aside from Green and Thornton, the Spartans struggled to make outside shots and beyond Izzo’s suggestions (which I trust without fail) that Payne can now make 3-pointers and Appling’s shot has improved greatly, it remains to be seen whether they have improved enough to earn the respect of opposing defenses.
Not to keep picking on Nix, but I’m going to put his pick-and-roll and help defense on here as well. Big 10 point guards Aaron Craft and Trey Burke are too smart to let Nix sit in the paint on the defensive end, they will draw him out to the perimeter to play the pick-and-roll every chance they get to try and get him into foul trouble.
The offense will be a work in progress in the early part of the schedule as the team lacks the obvious number one option that they have had in past seasons. Appling is the natural candidate to improve on his 11.4 points per game average from last season and lead the team in scoring this year.
Circle these dates …
- Nov. 9 — Michigan State will play Connecticut in Germany.
- Nov. 13 — The Spartans play No. 7 Kansas in Atlanta.
- Dec. 22 — MSU has had some good games against Texas in recent seasons and will get the Longhorns again as part of a tough non-conference schedule.
- Jan. 19 and Feb. 24 — Two of six absolutely can’t-miss Big Ten games for MSU, these two against Ohio State.
- Jan. 27 and Feb. 19 — Michigan State played Indiana, the preseason No. 1 team, well last season.
- Feb. 12 and March 2 — Michigan has made this rivalry more interesting in recent seasons. MSU will try to reassert its dominance.
The Spartans will open the season as the fourth highest ranked Big 10 team at No. 14 behind Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan. Unlike past seasons when the non-conference schedule has proven to be overwhelming, Michigan State has a realistic chance at opening the season with two consecutive wins as they face transitioning Connecticut and Kansas to open the year. The Spartans will contend for the Big 10 regular season title as the gap between them and their Big 10 brethren will likely diminish as the season progresses and Michigan State establishes an offensive identity.
Lastly, I really hope this season doesn’t depend as much on Nix as I’ve predicted it will above. He has improved, but balance will be the key for Michigan State this season.
- Central Michigan must replace 75 percent of its offense from last season
- Oakland looks to replace Reggie Hamilton’s immense contributions
- Michigan enters the season with immense national expectations