Just How Good Are The 2012 Michigan State Spartans?

Let Saturday’s 58-48 victory over third ranked Ohio State be a wake up call to anyone who was sleeping on this year’s Michigan State team. It was understandable why this was one of Sparty’s least hyped-up teams in recent memory. After all, there was little for them to build on. They came into the season unranked after being eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year and lost three of their top four scorers, including star guard Kalin Lucas. [Read more…]

Michigan State Guard Keith Appling Finalist for Team USA U19

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Michigan State Spartans sophomore point guard Keith Appling has accepted an invitation from the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team training camp.

The training camp, which will be held June 17-24 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be used to select the 12-member team that will represent the USA in international competition at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship.

The USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by NCAA representative Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), is expected to announce on June 19 finalists for the 12-member USA U19 World Championship Team roster.

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Michigan State Blows Out #9 Purdue, Secures NCAA Tournament Bid

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I guess MSU Coach Tom Izzo  finally got his Michigan State Spartans to realize that March is here? In their 74-56 rout over the #6 Purdue Boilermakers, State finally played like a preseason #2 team in national college basketball.

And of course they did it in March, a month in which they’re known to be at their best. It took all the way to the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals, but it did happen.

This was about as complete a game, at both ends of the floor that State has played all season. And the win, in very convincing fashion, over a top opponent has clinched their way into the NCAA Tournament.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State Stays on NCAA Bubble with Narrow Victory over Iowa Hawkeyes

msu dance team

In our latest, most up-to-date NCAA Tournament bracket projection, (or college basketball “bracketology” if you will, we have the Michigan State Spartans as a #11 seed.

Although the chances of them falling into that final #12 seed line (and perhaps playing within that “First Four”) are still high, even with their 66-61 narrow escape over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first round of Big Ten Tournament. It was game the Hawkeyes lost more than the Spartans won.

However, their chances of falling off the bubble and into the NIT are quite low at this point. A win tomorrow over the #2 seed Purdue Boilermakers assures their place as the sixth Big Ten team in the NCAA Tournament.

By Paul M. Banks

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Is Michigan State Going to be Left out of the NCAA Dance?

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Only one team from last year’s Final Four looks to be in serious danger of missing this year’s NCAA Tournament. That college basketball team was also the national runner-up in 2009, and ranked #2 in preseason polls this year. They are the Big ten and the nation’s biggest let-down, the Michigan State Spartans (17-13, 9-9). North Carolina and Kansas State also had massive preseason expectations, and seen their struggles this season. However, the Tar Heels and Wildcats are getting hot at the right time- down the stretch.

There are plenty of reasons for the disaster that’s unfolded in East Lansing, Michigan: a myriad of injuries, the behavior issues of Korie Lucious and Chris Allen, a consistently catastrophic amount of turnovers every game, the severe regression of Durrell Summers, Delvon Roe’s knees that just won’t heal, Kalin Lucas not being 100% healthy until midseason, the freshmen and sophomore class lack of production, and of course, Tom Izzo sometimes losing his team due to his tyrannical tactics.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State is a Program in Severe Crisis, but What’s Next?

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As I articulated in the first part of this feature, the Michigan State college basketball season is ostensibly over. (Follow that link for more detail, but if your only colors are green and white I’m warning you now: “there’s no comfort in the truth, pain is all you’ll find,” as George Michael told us in the 1980s)

State’s packing it in is no longer news to anyone close the program; the latest no-show at Carver-Hawkeye Arena cemented their ticket not to the NCAAs, but the NIT (if they can get 3-4 more wins this season), or more likely the second division of the Big Ten. Without hyperbole, you can say Wednesday night was the worst loss of the Tom Izzo era and it makes you wonder if there’s any confidence remaining in that locker room these days. Meaning it’s already time to start thinking about next year.

And with that, time to start taking a hard look at the host of issues surrounding the current roster.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State Loses 71-62 in Champaign, Blows Chance at Road Win

Tom Izzo

A big reason Michigan State won back to back Big Ten titles in ’09-’10 is their superior road record. The last two years MSU is 16-5 away from home. They had a school record 8 road wins in  2009, and followed it up with a 7-2 mark the following season.

However, this year outside of the Breslin Center has been a totally different story. The Spartans fell to the Illini in Champaign Tuesday night, in a game both teams needed in order to stay in the conference race.

The loss dropped State’s road record to 1-3 in 2010-11. Their only road win was at Northwestern on January 3rd. State is currently 12-6, 4-2 in conference, with all but one of their losses coming to a ranked opponent.

MSU’s second leading scorer, Durrell Summers, was benched tonight and at first glance you night read that sentence and quote the classic film Dodgeball: “Interesting strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for ’em.”

But Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo made switch in order to make a statement.

By Paul M. Banks
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Turnovers Don’t Fit with Michigan State Point Guard Tradition, Kalin Lucas

michigan state basketball izzo

When the Big Ten Network produced a program highlighting the most storied position traditions of excellence in the conference, Michigan State point guards took home the overall slot. All those decades of college basketball and college football and the number one is the men who have manned “the one” in East Lansing. NBA superstars, Team USA and college legends, guys like Scott Skiles, Magic Johnson, Mateen Cleaves, Drew Neitzel, Steve Smith and Eric Snow.

Playing point guard at Michigan State is a position of great power that comes with great responsibility and great scrutiny. Kalin Lucas holds the position now, with top ten freshman recruit and former Michigan Mr. Basketball Keith Appling waiting in the wings.

Appling is now starting and, along with Lucas, bringing the ball up and setting the offense. His move to the starting five gives State two point guards in the lineup; and an upgrade in ball-handling skills.

It’s mandatory because their biggest issue is turnovers.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State Has Found Their Legitimate Starting Five Now

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Following Michigan State’s narrow escape over Oakland on December 11th, I tweeted to my followers what I believed MSU’s starting lineup should be: a three guard cadre of Durrell Summers, Kalin Lucas, Keith Appling with Delvon Roe and Draymond Green up front.

I then tweeted an abbreviated/condensed version of why I felt this would work.

First, having two true point guards (and the requisite ball-handing skills) on the floor at the same time would help ameliorate State’s biggest issue this year- turnovers.

Secondly, Lucas is just not himself after the Achilles and who knows if/when he ever will be. He’s better served as a scorer off the ball now than as primary distributor. Perfect for Appling, who’s defense is way ahead of his scoring right now. Let him bring the ball up and set the offense.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State Needs Rookie Keith Appling to Grow Up Quickly

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“I’m a lot more comfortable now that I’ve gotten a couple starts under my belt,” Michigan State Spartans point guard Keith Appling said last week following a victory over Northwestern in which he had five blocks.

“He’s going end up like Charlie Bell, one of the best defensive players that we’ve had,” MSU Coach Tom Izzo said.

Appling was inserted into the starting line-up at the beginning of conference play, mostly for his defensive prowess, but also give the Spartans more ball-handling ability in the first five. Given that turnovers have been their number one issue all season long, it makes sense.

By Paul M. Banks

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Northwestern takes Michigan State Down to the Wire

Tom Izzo

Although the final outcome was still a loss, it was a much more exciting and interesting loss to Michigan State this time for Northwestern, who took one of their toughest Big Ten opponents down to the final possession.

No wants to believe in nor accept moral victories, but losing to the #18 Spartans, when your star forward John Shurna (the Big Ten’s leading scorer) is clearly not anywhere near himself, is not the worst thing in the world.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State Needs More Consistent Scoring from Durrell Summers

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It maybe single digit high temperatures and subzero wind chills in East Lansing, Michigan right now, but the Michigan State Spartans should look to make it Durrell “Summers summer, summertime Time to sit back and unwind” if they are to start living up to their preseason hype. Apologies for quoting Will Smith. Really, that was my bad I know.

The Spartans were preseason #2, but they have three losses already on this young season.

None of their losses have been particularly bad: they took #6 UConn down to the wire, they hung with #1 Duke at Cameron Indoor for about 35 minutes (and could probably win that game today now that it would be played without Kyrie Irving who ripped them apart for 31 points). And although Tuesday night’s loss to Syracuse wasn’t pretty, playing the #8 team in the nation in their home state is always a tough task.

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