Meet Kenny Kaminski: Sparty’s New Bench WeaponPosted by Brendan Brody on January 15th, 2014
A couple of weeks back we broke down the top five freshmen in the B1G up to that point. We also listed an honorable mention of sorts including six more first-year players who could play their way onto this list. Seemingly out of nowhere, a new freshman beyond those initial 11 has crashed on to the conference landscape by coming off the Michigan State bench and making three-pointers at a torrid pace. Redshirt freshman Kenny Kaminski has overcome injuries and inconsistency to become the hottest outside shooter in the league right now, helping the Spartans start off league play with a flawless 4-0 record. With personnel issues related to injury and illness hampering Sparty’s ability to play a whole game with an intact roster, Kaminsky has become that much more important.
Let me preface this by saying that if you believe that Kaminski can maintain his 62.5 percent shooting from behind the arc, and a 79.0% eFG, you can just go ahead and pencil in Michigan State as your national champion. His hot shooting is not sustainable at this level, but it helped the team earn two very important wins when at less than full strength. Kaminski went 4-of-4 in the first 20 minutes against the Gophers, knocking down every open triple that he took. He also went 3-of-4 in the Ohio State game a week ago. Given the recent struggles of Travis Trice, Kaminski has become the go-to shooter off the bench, allowing point guard Keith Appling to draw the defense to kick it out to a wide open shooter capable of making defenses pay.
It’s safe the say that Kaminski has made his way onto every Big Ten team’s scouting report from this point forward. It’s doubtful that he’ll get as many clean looks that he’s gotten to this point, as coaches in the league react and put an emphasis on shutting him down. The key to continued playing time will be to hit a reasonable number of shots, but he also is going to need to find other ways to contribute. At his size of 6’9″, and even as a perimeter player, just over one rebound per game is simply unacceptable. With Adreian Payne battling injuries and Branden Dawson struggling with his own ailments, Kaminski needs to do more with his minutes. He will get more time if he can add rebounding and defense to supplement his shooting abilities. In a recent article on mlive.com, head coach Tom Izzo stated: ” If he continues to improve and tries to get a rebound every once in a while and guard somebody once in a while, he can shoot it with anybody. But we have to do more than score at one end.”
The ability to contribute in ways other than shooting will ultimately determine just how much of an impact Kaminski has on the rest of the Spartans’ season. But with Michigan State suffering through multiple missed games from players who were expected to get the majority of minutes, he’ll certainly get plenty of chances to do so. It’ll be up to him to determine whether he wants to turn those opportunities into long-term success, both personally and for Michigan State as a whole.