Oct 18, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT
Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.
Last Season: 29-8, 13-5 Big Ten (t-1st); Lost in the Sweet 16 to Louisville
Head Coach: Tom Izzo
Key Losses: Draymond Green, Brandon Wood, Austin Thornton
Newcomers: Gary Harris, Matt Costello, Denzel Valentine, Kenny Kaminski
- G: Keith Appling, Jr.
- G: Gary Harris, Fr.
- F: Branden Dawson, So.
- F: Derrick Nix, Sr.
- C: Adreian Payne, Jr.
- Bench: Travis Trice, So.; Alex Gauna, So.; Matt Costello, Fr.; Brandon Kearney, So.; Russell Byrd, So.; Denzel Valentive, Fr.
Outlook: Michigan State entered the 2010-2011 season with all kinds of hype and produced one of the most disappointing seasons in Spartan history. They finished 19-15 on the year, 9-9 in league play and somehow managed to squeeze an NCAA tournament bid out of it. After some significant roster turnover heading into last season, the Spartans weren’t expected to be much more than mediocre … and they went out and won a share of the Big Ten regular season title (after blowing a two game lead with two games left), the Big Ten tournament title and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. (Hurray, accurate preseason projections!)
And this season?
Well, expectations are kind of in the middle. The Spartans are expected to be a contender in the Big Ten, but they aren’t a favorite. Indiana is. It’s tough to even label them a contender for the title with Michigan and Ohio State in the conference as well. They’re also a borderline top ten team, as their ranking in this poll will show you, but they aren’t really talked about as a Final Four contender beyond the obvious “never bet against Izzo” tourney-meme.
The one thing we do know about this group is that they have the kind of makeup that Izzo usually has success with.
It starts in the front court, where the Spartans will be as big and physical as anyone. Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix spent last season rotating at the center spot, playing along side Draymond Green, but with Green off to the professional ranks, Izzo’s two biggest big men will see a lot of shared court time. Payne and Nix are complete contrasts on the court. Where Payne has length and athleticism for days, Nix is a bully on the block that’s strong as an ox but struggles to keep his weight down.
Joining them up front is sophomore Branden Dawson, who was having an excellent freshman season before he tore his ACL in March. The good news? Dawson has recovered incredibly quickly from the surgery and should be back to his old form, which is good news for this group. At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Dawson is aggressive when attacking the basket — and the back boards — and will give Izzo a trio of tough, physical front court players. Exactly like the Tom Izzo teams of old. Sophomore Alex Gauna and freshman Matt Costello will round out the front court rotation, although Dawson might also be able to slide over and play the four spot if necessary.
The back court is where the question marks will lie. As well as that front court trio fits in with what classic Michigan State teams look like, the key centers around the ability of the back court to score, because offensive creativity is not exactly a strong suit for that group.
The most important player will be Keith Appling. Appling is more of a natural scoring guard, but he was forced to move into the point guard role last season due to the dismissal of Korie Lucious. It took him awhile to get adjusted to the position, but with a year under his belt, the Spartans are expecting big things out of him. Expect his scoring numbers (11.9 ppg last season) to increase, while his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7:1) improves and his three-point shooting (25.0% last year, versus 41.0% as a freshman) both improve. Appling’s load will be lessened by Travis Trice, a sophomore point guard that was a pleasant surprise last year. He battled a pretty vicious virus over the summer, however, which caused him to lose some weight and conditioning.
Freshman Gary Harris could end up being this team’s x-factor. A five-star recruit, Harris is an athletic, 6-foot-4 slasher known for his aggressiveness, his ability to score off the dribble and his defensive aggressiveness. If he can prove to be a consistent scorer from the perimeter, a guy that can compete for all-league honors, Michigan State could have some real upside this season. Sophomore Brandan Kearney and freshman Denzel Valentine are bigger, more versatile guards, while Russell Byrd is a 6-foot-7 shooter whose recurring foot issues may end up forcing him into a limited role.
Predictions?: Best case scenario? Assuming Appling and Harris excel in the back court, Dawson is fully recovered from his injury and more advanced offensively, and Nix and Payne have learned how to play together on the front line, Michigan State has the makings of a team that can make noise in the league and a run in the tournament. But those are a lot of ‘ifs’ that need to work out well. There’s no guarantee that happens. Whether or not it does, the Spartans are going to play a tough, physical brand of basketball and compete every night. A top four finish in the Big Ten sounds about right.
Jun 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
If you aren’t familiar with Vine, it’s an app that allows users to record up to six seconds worth of video. That was plenty of time for Tennessee rising junior forward Jarnell Stokes to film Oklahoma State star sophomore guard Marcus Smart taking a sideline bounce pass and throwing down a 360 slam while the…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT
Gorgui Dieng is gearing up for next Thursday for the 2013 NBA Draft. On Tuesday, following a workout with the New York Knicks, the former Louisville center had time to talk about his old team. “I think they’re going to have a better team this year,” Dieng told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and SNY.tv on…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT
A week after being cut loose by Iowa State, Indian Hills Community College forward Richard Amardi made a commitment to the Oregon Ducks. He has one year of eligibility left. Jeff Goodman first reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-9 Amardi was on the wrong-end of a scholarship issue. He had originally committed…
Jun 18, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT
After three years with the Penn State program, rising junior forward Jon Graham was granted a release and will be allowed to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. “Jon and I have had several meetings to discuss his future and he has decided to seek opportunities to…
Jun 18, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT
The return of Greg Whittington was going to be a crucial for the Georgetown Hoyas, entering next season without Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. However, on Tuesday it was confirmed that Whittington has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. “Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,”Georgetown head coach John…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) was one of 12 players selected to the USA Basketball Under-16 team, playing in the FIBA World Championship in Uruguay. The 6-foot-9 2016 recruit injured his left knee on Wednesday in a win over Argentina. On Tuesday, Giles told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he torn his ACL and MCL.…
Jun 18, 2013, 4:39 PM EDT
Kansas commit and consensus top high school player Andrew Wiggins decided not to play for the Canadian Under-19 team this summer at next week’s FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. That hasn’t stopped the 6-foot-7 Wiggins from impressing this summer. According to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, sources confirmed that Wiggins participated in his first…
Jun 18, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT
We’ve dissected the position that Aaron Gordon will play at Arizona far too often this offseason. Maybe, instead of worrying about whether he’ll be a three or a four, we should sit back and appreciate the fact that he can do this: I mean … I just … wow. Oh, there’s a better angle, too:…
Jun 18, 2013, 2:28 PM EDT
Ever since Ed O’Bannon first filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over the use of his likeness in a video game back in 2009, there has been scuttlebutt that the outcome of said lawsuit could end up playing a major role in the way that college athletics operates at the highest level in the near…
Jun 18, 2013, 12:50 PM EDT
One of the big names to keep an eye on in the Class of 2015 is one of the biggest players in the class: 6-foot-11 Stephen Zimmerman. A native of Las Vegas who plays his high school ball at Bishop Gorman, Zimmerman is a lanky left-hander that can score with his back to the basket,…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:28 AM EDT
Florida head coach Billy Donovan made the final cuts to the U19 Team USA team on Monday night, getting the roster down to 12 players. The best known player on the team? Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, who will likely enter the 2013-2014 season as a preseason first-team All-American. Duke sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon, incoming Arizona freshman…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:41 AM EDT
Jermaine Marshall has had a change of heart. Last month, Marshall announced that he would be leaving Penn State with the intention of going pro, but he’s had a change of heart. Marshall, who didn’t sign with an agent, will graduate on August 10th and has received a release from the Nittany Lions. He’ll be…
Jun 18, 2013, 9:58 AM EDT
How badly is Greg Whittington injured? That’s the biggest question facing Georgetown heading into the summer, because at this point, we know that Whittington is dealing with some kind of a knee injury. Late Monday night, Casual Hoya reported that Whittington was hobbling around on crutches. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com and Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com…
Jun 18, 2013, 9:28 AM EDT
Through 12 games in the 2012-13 season, Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum had done nothing to dispel the notion that he was one of the nation’s best players. With averages of 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game to that point in the season, McCollum was leading the country in scoring and well…
Jun 17, 2013, 11:01 PM EDT
Keith Hornsby, the sophomore guard from UNC Asheville, took to Twitter to announce where he will spend his final two years of eligibility. #letsGeaux!!!!!!! – tweeted Hornsby on Monday night The 6-foot-4 sophomore picked LSU almost three weeks after announcing he would be leaving UNC Asheville following the departure of head coach Eddie Biedenbach. Hornsby was…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:13 PM EDT
One of the nation’s top rising seniors Rashad Vaughn has decided to leave Robbinsdale Cooper High (Minn.) in favor of prep school for his final season. Vaughn has been debating about whether or not to leave Cooper for months. “The kid has to move on and do what’s best for him,” Vaughn’s mentor Pete Kaffey told the Pioneer…
Jun 17, 2013, 8:50 PM EDT
North Carolina guard was arrested on June 5. It’s been almost two full weeks since the incident occurred in Durham, and for the first time since the arrest, Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams spoke about his leading scorer. “We are doing one thing: We are waiting until all the information comes out,” Williams told…
Jun 17, 2013, 7:40 PM EDT
Florida has already started its incoming class for the fall of 2015. On Monday evening, sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes (Suwannee High/Live Oak, Fla.) committed to Billy Donovan and the Gators. This early commitment was first reported by Evan Daniels of Scout and then later confirmed by coach Martin McCann of Nike Team Florida — Hayes’ AAU team. According…
Jun 17, 2013, 6:50 PM EDT
The championship rings of former Kentucky Wildcat Walter McCarty are now up for sale on eBay. McCarty, a member of the 1996 National Championship team is having both the ring given to the team by the NCAA and the ring presented to the Wildcats by the University of Kentucky are both being auctioned off with…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:42 PM EDT
Alabama’s second-leading scorer Trevor Lacey has decided to transfer to North Carolina State, according to PackPride.com. He will have to sit out the 2013-2014 season per NCAA transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility left. In April, Lacey had elected to leave the Crimson Tide program after two seasons. He was considering Wolf…
- This week is a very important week for Ed O’Bannon’s case against the NCAA 0
- A broken foot failed to derail C.J. McCollum’s trek to the lottery 0
- The most important skill Michael Carter-Williams learned as a freshman? Work ethic 0
- Aaron Gordon: ‘Whatever Coach Miller wants me to play, I’ll play it.’ 0
- Bruce Pearl could have starred in Welcome Back, Kotter in the 1970s 0
- Heat rally to beat Spurs in Game 6
- PBT: After blowing lead, can Spurs rebound in Game 7?
- PST: On-fire Altidore lifts USA over Honduras in WCQ
- CSN: Patriots' Hernandez questioned in murder investigation
- CSN: Celtics-Clippers KG, Rivers trade talks dead
- HBT: Mets' Wheeler goes six scoreless in MLB debut
- Lolo Jones' attempt at humor backfires