News and Notes from MSU Basketball...

Hondo S. Carpenter

 

Tom Izzo can't do it all.  This team needs a leader to emerge.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.
Tom Izzo can't do it all. This team needs a leader to emerge. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

MSU Basketball News and Notes

 

Keith Appling is going to be a very good player. Keith Appling better learn to look to pass first or he and Izzo are going to clash…Often. He did it all in high school, but this isn’t high school. He has to look for his teammates to pass and has to make playing defense a priority.

 

Draymond Green coming off of the screen has to put fright in any defender. He is growing into one of the most complete players of the Izzo era. Watch him coming off the screen and that can tell you a lot. 

 

How is this for a lineup you may see at times: Lucas, Lucious, Appling, Roe and Green. Stunning and fast.

 

The Spartans need a leader. They have so many great players and they won’t have the distractions off of the court similar to last year, but they still don’t have a leader. Who will emerge and take that role? Draymond Green and Korie Lucious arguing on the court in the first half of the Nebraska-Omaha wasn’t the end of the world. It is a sign that they need a leader. I am not suggesting that this group has the personality issues and distractions like last year AT ALL. There is simply a void of leadership and Izzo agreed with me when we talked about it.

 

Without a doubt for me Adreian Payne is the most impressive freshman. He is on the floor and in the stands, blocking shots, hitting the three, running the lane he does it all. His points may not be the most, but he is the real deal. He is soft spoken and absolutely in love with the game of basketball.

 

Kalin Lucas is on a mission. He is locked in and frankly already in tournament type mode. If he maintains his health and focus he will be a contender for national player of the year and not just the Big Ten.

 

Let me preface this comment by saying I love Draymond Green. As a young man and a player. Having said that he could be the leader of this team, but yelling isn’t leadership. Sure Mateen did that and others, but if it isn’t earned you can’t get away with it. He is an emotional and great player, but not the leader he could be. I hope he grows into that. If he does he will be a sure fire #1 pick and a star. Great players are all over basketball. Great leaders are not.

 

Keep your ear to the ground and you will hear Izzo clamor for on court communication. He loves it and thinks this team can take a big step if that improves. I agree with him.

 

Austin Thornton has grown comfortable in his own skin. He is playing better in all phases of the game. I shake my head with the criticism that some Spartan fans give the young man. I can’t wait to watch how he improves this season. His defense and his offense are both much improved.

 

Izzo told me that South Carolina would be one of the most athletic teams (if not the most) that his Spartans will face this season. I know that seems shocking and almost makes you think that is full doses of coach speak, but he truly believes it.

 

One of the things that make Izzo a great coach is that he adapts. For example, when his second string runs the scout team in practice, most of the time they are better than the opponent. I watched him at practice over the weekend make his team try to beat the press 5 on 7. It is that ability to make drills harder and think out of the box that makes him so successful. It is also that ability that makes him so underrated.

 

Russell Byrd is doing well. He is scheduled to come out of the boot on December 3rd.

 

Alex Gauna chose to red shirt rather than play very little this season. Izzo said he could play him at any time and he could, but if he is going to play then play him early. Having him sit some games and then take it off is a waste. Injuries of course change that, but Gauna is a good player that can be great. 

 

People close to the program aren't shocked at the growth of Garrick Sherman. He is a great basketball player and is playing basketball this season and not thinking.

 

Check out on Tuesday morning what Tom Izzo has done that could be the biggest reason why this team wins a title this season!

 

Here is something you won’t hear every year. This Spartan team is so talented, that Izzo’s biggest headache is going to be getting his guys to play basketball and not always go for the Sportscenter highlights. Whether it is hitting a wing when you are trying to dribble drive the lane, or making a nice boring bounce pass instead of the fancy play that can make turnovers. 

 

Izzo will be tasked with keeping his team into it. With that much talent I have no concerns about a game against Duke or Kentucky. These players know how big those games are. I am saying the South Carolina’s and Penn State type games. If they get up with all of their athletes, can they be lulled and stop playing with their foot on the gas. Izzo is the best motivator in basketball, but that is going to be a task. If the Spartans have some unexpected losses, they could come against schools that they get the early success with and simply lose interest. 

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