Six Final Fours in twelve years is a rather remarkable feat. Even more so, Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans were able to get there last year despite team leader Kalin Lucas
being sidelined by injury. Izzo and Sparty are in position to make
another run at a national championship beginning tonight with their
season opener against Eastern Michigan.
Projected Depth Chart
C: Garrick Sherman (So)/Derrick Nix (So)/Adreian Payne (Fr)
PF: Delvon Roe (Jr)/Alex Gauna (Fr)
SF: Draymond Green (Jr)/Austin Thornton (Jr)/Russell Byrd (Fr)
SG: Durrell Summers (Sr)/Keith Appling (Fr)/Mike Kebler (Sr)
PG: Kalin Lucas (Sr)/Korie Lucious (Jr)
Gone: F-Raymar Morgan, SG-Chris
No matter what happens in the regular season, Tom Izzo knows how to work
his tourney magic. With a majority of their talent returning from last
year, Sparty will have a great chance at making another Final Four run
again this season.
This team has experience and talent all across the board as they only
lose two contributors from a year ago. The point is especially loaded
with Kalin Lucas and Korie Lucious who have now both had success being
the lead guard on the biggest stage of them all. Lucas is returning
from a ruptured left Achilles tendon but is one of the best floor
generals in the college game. Lucious admirably stepped in for Lucas
during the tourney and can also play off the ball if Izzo decides to run
the pair on the floor at the same time. Lucious will be suspended for
the opener stemming from a off-the-court issue this summer.
Durrell Summers will be leaned on more heavily this year especially with Chris
run last season especially with his outside shot. If he can maintain
that high level of play on a consistent basis, he will make this team
even more dangerous. McDonald's All-American Keith Appling is a combo
guard who will be asked to play some minutes at the two despite being
Nagging knee injuries have held Delvon Roe back a bit in his first
two years in East Lansing but says he is at full strength. Whether or
not he wears down during the season as his knees log more minutes will
once again be something to keep an eye on. Sixth man Draymond Green
will move into the starting line-up to ultimately replace Raymar
Morgan. Austin Thornton and Russell Byrd will provide depth at the
three while freshman Alex Gauna could see some minutes at the four.
The center spot is the only position that needs to figure itself out
as the season moves along. Sophomores Garrick Sherman and Derrick Nix
will compete for minutes with big time freshman Adreian Payne. All
three of capable of manning that starting spot or contributing off the
bench which is a great problem for Izzo to have since most teams crave
depth in the middle.
Regardless of how their regular season plays out, sleeping on a Tom
Izzo-coached team come tourney time is like a character from Lost
wandering alone in the jungle; it is just a bad idea. Plus, Michigan
State will certainly be tourney ready as they play a difficult
non-conference schedule on top of being in a loaded Big Ten.
Player to Watch: Draymond Green, F
The reigning Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year pretty much saw starter
minutes last year but officially joins the first five this season.
Green led the team in rebounding as he can throw his strong body around
inside but also possesses a nice mid-range game that makes him versatile
enough to play either forward spot despite being just 6-6.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 vs. South Carolina
11/23 vs. UConn/Wichita State (Maui Invitational)
11/24 vs. Kentucky/Oklahoma/Washington/Virginia (Maui Invitational)
12/1 at Duke (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/7 vs. Syracuse (in New York City)
12/22 vs. Texas
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and The Washington Times Communities. You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.
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