Three Burning Questions For Michigan State Basketball

With the season set to tip-off on Wednesday, Nov. 25 against Eastern Michigan, we take the time to answer three burning questions surrounding Spartan Hoops.
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East Lansing, MI – Michigan State fans love their basketball program and their Hall of Fame head coach, Tom Izzo.

With the season set to tip-off on Wednesday, Nov. 25 against Eastern Michigan, Spartan Nation takes the time to answer three questions surrounding MSU basketball before the Eagles head to the Breslin Center.

Who Starts at Point Guard?

Photo Credit: Nick King/Lansing State Journal, Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Cassius Winston is gone.

The former Big Ten Player of the Year and all-time assist leader in the conference isn't coming back.

So, who replaces him?

Associate head coach Dwyane Stephens has a couple of players in mind.

"I think Foster Loyer and Rocket (Watts) have both been playing extremely well. I think people will be surprised when they see those guys. I feel like they look a lot different than they did last year," he said.

Watts, a gifted athlete who can play multiple positions, averaged 9.0 points, 1.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.5 steals per game as a freshman.

In 2019, he played a different role, one that might suit his playstyle, but this season, Watts will expand his responsibilities and be asked to share the basketball regularly.

While Loyer builds confidence, finds ways to play loose, and feels secure at the one-spot.

"Rocket is making plays for his teammates, and I feel like Foster is handling pressure a lot better ... he's a little more comfortable," said Stephens. "When Cassius is on the bench, it's easy to look over your shoulder, and I think he was doing that a little bit. He's a lot more comfortable this year."

Who Takes Xavier Tillman Sr.'s Minutes?

Photo Credit: Nick King/Lansing State Journal, Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Redshirt junior Joey Hauser won't replace Xavier Tillman, but the transfer from Marquette will undoubtedly be expected to fill some of his production. 

He averaged 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game, earning All-Big East freshman honors in 2018. 

Tom Izzo has been exceptionally high on Hauser, praising his ability to shoot, pass, and defend. 

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward, can be used in multiple ways, but we'll have to see how Izzo positions his new scorer. 

"A lot of people haven't seen him yet, except for last year when he (Hauser) was on the scout team," Stephens said.

Big men Marcus Bingham and Thomas Kithier enter significant years with many accessible minutes now that Tillman is gone. 

Both of them will be motivated by two tough physical presence behind them in freshman Mady Sissoko and Julius Marble. 

Is Joshua Langford 100% Healthy?

Joshua Langford. Photo:  Duffy Carpenter @DuffyCarpenter1

Joshua Langford. Photo: Duffy Carpenter @DuffyCarpenter1

In a year with loads of unanswered questions before the season-opener, the fifth-year senior who hasn't played since December 2018 might be precisely what Michigan State needs. 

Prior to having two surgeries on his left foot in less than a year, Joshua Langford was an elite player, but now he's thinking about being back on the court for the first time. 

"I've thought about it a good amount of times," Langford told reporters Monday night. "But I don't know what it's going to be like; I haven't played in two years ... I think it's going to be a lot of different emotions."

His plan? Seeing where it goes. 

"I'm just out there playing, man. I'm just going to go out there and see what's what and just embrace the moment," said Langford. 

If Langford can provide MSU with a spark off the bench, he will have come a long way, but if the Alabama native can return to form, Michigan State could be looking at another Big Ten title.

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