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Michigan State Basketball is LOADED

News flash… Michigan State basketball is LOADED. I had an opportunity to take in Munn Madness and I have to tell all of you in Spartan Nation that this program is scary. There is talent everywhere.

March success is often determined by great point guard play and defense. This 2007-2008 Michigan State team will have both. It starts with a roster full of depth. Tom Izzo has so many players that can contribute; this gives him the luxury of going hard in practice all the time. The versatility is outstanding. We have numerous players that can play multiple positions and gives Tom a ton of offensive and defensive looks.

Michigan State has five players that can play the “5” (the center position). Goran Suton, Idong Ibok, Marquise Gray, Drew Naymick and Tom Herzog are a talented group of defenders that provide a ton of rebounding and depth. It is debatable who will start at the “5”; Suton and Naymick likely have the inside track. Suton has a nice jumper and solid interior footwork. Naymick is a big rebounding, shot blocking defender that mixes it up under the glass. Herzog and Ibok are still works in progress, but provide outstanding depth, rebounding and shot blocking. Gray will see most of his minutes at power forward, but will find himself playing some minutes at the “5” when MSU wants to turn the game into a track meet.

The “4” (power forward) brings many of the same personnel as the center position, but also includes Raymar Morgan who is arguably the most versatile player on the roster. Michigan State can go big with Suton and Naymick at the 4 and 5 or they can go small and athletic with Gray and Morgan. Basketball is becoming a speed game much like football. You can give up a little height inside with athletic, quick bodies that can jump and rebound. Depth at the power forward is crucial to keep MSU out of foul trouble this year. We have the depth we need.

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The “3” (small forward) is dominated by some of MSU’s best athletes. Morgan leads this group with his muscular, yet wiry build along with MSU’s newest highlight reel Durrell Summers. Freshman and Georgia peach Chris Allen figures into the mix along with sophomore Isaiah Dahlman. All four of these guys bring something very different to the table. Morgan brings power forward interior skills and shooting guard capability on the outside. He has the ability to finish in traffic and kill you with the mid range “j” and an occasional three pointer. Summers is a dunking machine. He will flush a ton of alley oops this year and demonstrated a deadly three-point jumper on Friday night. Dahlman is Mr. IQ. He always knows where the ball is supposed to go and distributes the ball nicely on the interior. Dahlman needs to add more strength; a consistent jump shot will earn him more playing time. Chris Allen will probably see time at the “3” when MSU goes to a speed line-up. When MSU runs Morgan at the four, the door is open for Summers and Allen to run the “3” by committee along with Dahlman. These guys are going to be exciting. It gives Izzo a chance to run a three-guard offense without losing rebounding and athleticism.

The “2” (shooting guard) is equally loaded. Drew Neitzel will certainly see a ton of minutes at the “2” when Travis and Kalin run the point. Everyone knows that Drew is a lethal three-point shooter. Allen and Summers will both see time at the shooting guard position. Allen may be the most polished of the true freshman. He has excellent range, a good handle and can finish in traffic. The same can be said for Summers, but it appears Durrell finishes a little better around the rim at this point. Defense and rebounding will determine how these minutes are handed out.

The “1” (point guard) is flashy, steady, full of defenders, dribble penetrators and solid shooting. Travis Walton will handle the point when Drew is either on the bench or playing the “2.” Neitzel brings senior leadership, outside shooting and another coach on the court when he is running the point. Travis can defend a 1,2 or 3 and has worked hard to improve his jumper. Kalin Lucas has great passing instincts and can get to the rim at will. The depth at point guard will propel MSU to a Big Ten title this year and it makes them a likely candidate to go deep in the tournament. Defensive match-ups will likely determine the minutes at this position as all three of these guys could start for half the teams in the country.

If I am Tom Izzo, I am pinching myself. The magic talent fairy must have waved her wand over the Breslin Center. The talent is more than impressive; it is flat out scary. There are few teams in America that will want to play the Spartans in December. There will be even fewer that will want to cross their path in early March. Michigan dodges a huge bullet this year by playing the Spartans only once. I would expect Michigan State to run teams into the ground with superior depth. We now have the ability to go hard 100% of the time and can “out-athlete” teams at most of the positions on the floor.