Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 29th, 2012
Throughout the preseason, the Big Ten microsite will be rolling out the featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Michigan State Spartans.
Where We Left Off: Tom Izzo’s Spartans were poised for another postseason run last March but their plans took a hit when guard Branden Dawson went down with an ACL injury. Dawson injured his left knee against Ohio State on March 4 meaning that the Spartans had lost their best defender for rest of the season. Nonetheless, State finished conference play with a 13-5 record and beat Ohio State a week later to secure the Big Ten Tournament title. Izzo was able to regroup his team after the injury but they fell short in the Sweet Sixteen against Rick Pitino’s Louisville squad on its way to the Final Four. The Spartans struggled to find consistent offense during the second weekend of the postseason and finished with an overall record of 29-8. Even though MSU fans expect nothing less than a Final Four every March, Draymond Green’s final season should be considered an overall success.
Is Keith Appling ready to step in and fill the void Draymond Green will leave behind? (AP Photo)
Positives: Despite losing Green, Izzo has several players returning who understand his system and logged significant minutes last season. Forwards Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne will be excellent in the paint together and will cause match-up problems with other contenders such as Indiana and Michigan. Both players have a diverse array of post moves and can get key big men such as Cody Zeller and Jordan Morgan in foul trouble. Izzo’s teams are known to be tough on the glass and as such they ranked second in the Big Ten in rebounding last year (36% OR). The backcourt consists of an experienced Keith Appling (who averaged 11.8 PPG in 30.8 MPG last season) and sophomore Travis Trice, who has a really nice touch from the beyond the arc (evident in his 40.5% 3FG shooting). Freshman guard Gary Harris is one of the top 50 incoming recruits this year and he has the size at 6’4″ and 205 lbs. to become an excellent defender for Tom Izzo. If Dawson is back to 100% game shape by January, it will only add more depth to what appears to be a very tough, defensive minded, typical Tom Izzo team.
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