Following Michigan State's narrow escape over Oakland on December 11th, I tweeted to my followers what I believed MSU's starting lineup should be: a three guard cadre of Durrell Summers, Kalin Lucas, Keith Appling with Delvon Roe and Draymond Green up front.
I then tweeted an abbreviated/condensed version of why I felt this would work.
First, having two true point guards (and the requisite ball-handing
skills) on the floor at the same time would help ameliorate State's
biggest issue this year- turnovers.
Secondly, Lucas is just not himself after the Achilles and who knows
if/when he ever will be. He's better served as a scorer off the ball now
than as primary distributor. Perfect for Appling, who's defense is way
ahead of his scoring right now. Let him bring the ball up and set the
Also, the Spartans have a luxury few other teams have- a third point
guard to come off the bench in Korie Lucious. Keep him fresh and let him
spell either guard position.
Mostly, I knew it was time to just play this smaller, quicker line-up
comprised of the team's five most talented players. The team was
sputtering through the non-conference, so I believed getting the five
most heavily recruited and highly rated players out on the court as much
as possible was like Quaker Oats, "the right thing to do."
Well, I guess one of Tom Izzo's subordinates is following me on
Twitter because sure enough, come New Year's eve, Izzo went to that
exact lineup for the Big Ten
opener versus Minnesota. And this IS the lineup he's keeping for the
rest of conference play. No more Shermanator or Austin Thornton in the
starting five; State is running with this.
"I do think this is the lineup I'm going to keep, but I got to do a better job of managing that," Izzo said last week.
"We're into Big Ten time and I'm still adjusting my lineup and it's
really no one's fault, it's just the way the season has been, but I
like the line-up we have. I like Korie (Lucious) coming off, I think if
we can get (Derrick) Nix and (Garrick) Sherman, Adrian Payne rotating a
little bit better when we play bigger teams I think it will get better
So far the unit is 3-1 overall; which is a much higher winning percentage than the team's overall mark.
Appling talked about having Kalin out there with him.
"Especially a veteran point guard, he's letting me know what I'm
doing right, what I'm doing wrong and where my assignments are on
offense and defense."
And I also sought Kalin's input on playing alongside Appling.
"When I got two very talented athletic wings
running with me, I got Durrell and Keith, I can go either way, after
that I got a big man who can play the three or the four in Dey-Dey and I
got a strong beast inside in Delvon. I love our five," Lucas said.
And yes, Dey-Dey or Dancing Bear as he's known, is Draymond Green
who's versatility helps make this lineup work. That and his cohesiveness
with Delvon Roe.
"One of the big reasons we were able to get to the Final Four last
year was the inside-outside because we're both pretty good passers," Roe
said about working with Green.
"After three years of playing together we know each other in and out.
I can look the opposite way and know where Delvon's going to be, and it
comes from playing together so much. Sometimes, we may switch and not
even call it," Draymond said about running with Roe.
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com
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