Joe Rexrode joins me for ‘Talkin’ Spartans’ after MSU’s loss at Miami

CORAL CABLES, Fla. — The early season injuries to Gary Harris and Travis Trice undoubtedly changed Michigan State’s men’s basketball team.

Even with Harris and Trice back for Wednesday’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge loss at Miami, it was easy to understand the Spartans’ struggles. Chemistry and conditioning had been lost, even if only temporarily.

Above is a short video analysis of what happened from me and Gannett / Detroit Free Press beat writer Joe Rexrode.

There are several issues, as I addressed in Thursday’s Lansing State Journal column. Most of them have to do with the growing understanding that Adreian Payne at power forward isn’t working. Not often enough, at least. Payne is such a ferociously talented player, he should never feel like “the problem” on MSU’s team, as he said he was Wednesday night. If he is, then he’s not in the right position.

Beyond figuring out MSU’s lineup and getting Branden Dawson to produce more offensive rebounds than turnovers, is another seemingly forgotten topic.

MSU has completely abandoned its touted uptempo style, especially the promised pressure defense, that coach Tom Izzo insisted was coming just a few weeks ago.

The Spartans should get a pass for Wednesday. Trice and Harris aren’t in ideal shape and it was a roadie against a fairly talented crew at the end of a stretch of five games in 11 days.

But if MSU is going with a smaller lineup, as it appears it’s about to, it should consider unleashing its defense — and become more worried about creating turnovers than making them.

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9 Responses to Joe Rexrode joins me for ‘Talkin’ Spartans’ after MSU’s loss at Miami

  1. avatar GreenGuy says:

    Ummm…I don’t agree with giving MSU players and Izzo a complete “pass” on last night’s game. Frankly, this “L” (or more precisely lack of a “W”) could very well come back to haunt MSU at season’s end. Look around the Big 10 – this MSU team may indeed struggle to get to 19 – 20 wins with the conference schedule it has and the apparent lack of physical/mental toughness it has coming off the bench.

    Nix/Payne rotating a Center is really the only option – and always was. They need two players who can go hard at that position and have 10 fouls to work with. The single biggest problem I see is the almost ever-present lack of mid and long range shooting. Green (and to some extent Trice) covered up for this chronic problem last year, but this team will continue to struggle in many games specifically because nobody can consistently hit from 18 feet out. I hear the howls coming at me – “but we have Gary Harris!” – sorry but asking a true freshman to shoot 35 – 40% from 3-point range for the entire season is not realistic. MSU will also start seeing lots of match-up and box zone as teams understand MSU’s shooting limitations. My suggestion would be to have Harris focus a little more on dribble-drive or post up stuff from 15 ft. – something at 6-5 he might be able to exploit against smaller/slower guards.

    The other glaring issue is R. Byrd…who obviously can’t contribute at the 2-guard because of severe athletic limitations. Without writing him off as a wasted scholarship/MAC player, I’d hold out some hope he can get stronger and be serviceable next year as a sub from the 3/small forward spot. This year…it looks like he has already played himself out of the rotation. Valentine and Kearney will take any minutes Byrd hoped for.

    Bad 3-pt FG shooting + bad free throw shooting looks to be the achilles heel for this his team. Against Miami, they got almost nothing from the post either. Maybe their best chance is to play pressure/press defense and try to force turnovers or distort half-court offenses…we know Izzo won’t play zone to protect players who get exposed in man2man.

    Unless this team finds some outside shooting, I see it struggling to get to 20 wins. The Big 10 schedule will be brutal.

  2. avatar Ugh says:

    Apparently, GreenGuy hasn’t watched MSU prior to this season. How many times do the Spartans have to struggle in November and then shine in March before Spartan fans stop screaming the sky is falling in November? Ugh. Get some perspective…Trice, Costello and Harris have been out with injuries and are just coming back. Those 3 are important to the rotation. This is the fifth game in 11 days after traveling to Germany and Atlanta. This team will not struggle to get to 20 wins. If they play like last night all season, then sure but anyone that watches Izzo coached teams knows that they almost always improve as the season goes along. I can’t cover every mistake in GreenGuy’s post but MSU is shooting 71% from the FT line. They shot 70% last season. So FT shooting is not an “Achilles heel”. Ugh.

    • avatar GreenGuy says:

      Well ugh…I’ve followed MSU basketball since the Jenison days…specifically the period of Gus as HC and a high school friend who played for Gus – Jeff Tropf, before he transferred to CMU after an ugly incident. BTW Ugh – from another thread – my favorite Jension moment was the game vs. #1 IU when it was Jeff and walk-ons…I was simultaneously proud to be a Spartan fan/future alum…and disgusted at what transpired to create that moment. So you may not agree with my opinions on MSU basketball – but stick your self-righteousness where it belongs.

      I would be glad to be wrong about my opinion that MSU will struggle to reach 20 wins…I have not seen anything – SO FAR THIS SEASON – that indicates this MSU team can/will elevate to that level. Is the Miami game an abberation…or was it the Kansas game? Maybe MSU settles into something in between.

      Maybe Appling finds his range…Harris doesn’t get freshman yips…Nix/Payne can combine for 20pts/15 boards/game…Dawson can hold up at the PF spot at 6-6…maybe Byrd turns into Larry.

      BTW – 71% FT shooting is is very average…although I do recognize Nix is not the FT adventure he once was. That, I grant you, is improvement.

      • avatar AAsparty says:

        I know we go through this every year, but this team, at this point early in the season, has a “squeak into the ncaa’s as a 9-10 seed and then a quick exit..” feel about it….

  3. avatar Ghost of Biggie says:

    As usual I still have high hopes that this team can develop as the year progresses. There is raw ability there and they must learn from their mistakes. We have to remember this is a team with 1 senior and 2 juniors. The rest are freshmen sophomores and redshirt sophomores with one and none for major college experience. You can argue there are plenty of players like that making an impact right away. They also find themselves in programs where they had to play and who can say whether or not our youngsters will bloom in January-March. You can point to Trey Burke but he wasn’t even the point guard on his AAU team. That was none other than a 245 running back who gained his scholarship by scoring nearly 30 points as a point guard in front of a college football coach. Perhaps TI missed a bet not getting him on the basketball team. He would come with his own set of pads for the war drill.

  4. avatar Ghost of Biggie says:

    Well the B1G championship games has arrived and I’m bummed. Back in September planning a business trip to Los Angeles, in my green Koolaid sipping outlook, finagled to be able to go to the BTCG. I fully expected to be there cheering the Jolly Green Giants on. But alas 2 songs come to mind.

    Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
    Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
    Oh, I believe in yesterday

    Suddenly we’re not half the team we used to be
    There’s a shadow hanging over me
    Oh, yesterday came suddenly

    Why KC had to go
    I don’t know, he wouldn’t say
    I said something wrong
    Now I long for yesterday

    Yesterday football was such an easy game to play
    Now I need a place to hide away
    Oh, I believe in yesterday

    Why’d he have to go?
    I don’t know, he wouldn’t say
    I said something wrong
    Now I long for yesterday

    Yesterday football was such an easy game to play
    Now I need a place to hide away
    Oh, I believe in yesterday

    Like the corners of my mind
    Misty water-colored memories
    Of the way we were
    Scattered pictures,
    Of the smiles we left behind
    Smiles we gave to one another
    For the way we were
    Can it be that it was all so simple then?
    Or has time re-written every line?
    If we had the chance to do it all again
    Tell me, would we? could we?
    Memories, may be beautiful and yet
    What’s too painful to remember
    We simply choose to forget
    So it’s the laughter
    We will remember
    Whenever we remember…
    The way we were…
    The way we were…

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