Athleticism Spells Defeat for MSU in Houston

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Laughter could be heard two days ago resonating from my living room as I discussed the Memphis regular season basketball schedule with my friend Ryan who is a huge North Carolina basketball fan. He attended Carolina and we routinely exchange jabs this time of year. Both of us agreed on one thing, Memphis’ basketball schedule was a complete joke. After Friday’s game against Michigan State the joke was on me. The Big Ten went home, while Conference USA’s representative played on.

Memphis is far superior at almost every position on the floor to Michigan State. I don’t fault our guy’s effort. They battled back strong and came within 14 points in the second half after being down 34. I was sure the wind was taken from their Spartan sails about the time the Tigers amassed a 30-point lead in the first half. To MSU’s credit, they found a way to regain some composure and battle back. The deficit was just too great to overcome. You don’t have to be a basketball coach to see that Memphis has more length, more speed, more quickness and more athleticism. I am not taking anything away from our guys. Memphis is just clearly a better team.

It was a terrible and unfitting end for the “Drews.” Neitzel didn’t find the nylon all night until it was too late. Neitzel and Naymick are part of our Spartan family. They have played like warriors throughout their careers. Neitzel has played far beyond his six foot, 170 pound body most of his career. The difference was apparent this evening as Neitzel and his teammates were faced with superior talent at every position on the floor.

So what is next for MSU basketball? This will be Kalin’s team next year. I expect Suton to become a more consistent force next season. He can be an All-Big Ten performer. Lucas will become the premier point guard in the league next year. Raymar needs to mature and handle the pressure that the NCAA basketball stage seems to unkindly dole out. Delvon Roe will have to be an immediate impact player and both Summers and Allen need to be ready to start in the winter. I would expect MSU’s starting line up to consist of Suton (C), Morgan (PF) Summers (SF), Allen (SG) and Lucas (PG) with Walton (G), Roe (PF) and Gray (PF) being the first ones off the bench. Herzog will need to become an interior force. Idong will be the role player he has been since he started in East Lansing. The biggest unknowns at this point will be the kind of contributions MSU can expect from Korie Luscious and Draymond Green. Believe me when I say this, MSU will be a much better team next season. Unfortunately growing pains are just… well, painful.