Around the Big Ten: Michigan State

Dylan Burkhardt
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There is just over one month until the tip off of the (exhibition) season for U-M. So it’s time to start previewing the upcoming season. The first thing I’m going to start with is a series of look-ins at other team’s thoughts and expectations from around the blogosphere. To begin with I bring you KJ from Spartans Weblog to break down the expectations in East Lansing. Kyle is a fellow hoops-only blogger who definitely knows his stuff, here you go:

The expectations for MSU basketball fans about the upcoming season are best described as cautiously optimistic.  The reasons for optimism can be summarized in one word: depth.  Depth has been a hallmark of successful Tom Izzo-coached teams over the last decade.  And this season, Izzo has put together a roster of players that will allow the team to play basketball the way he wants the game played: tenacious defense and rebounding combined with an up-tempo offense.

Despite the loss of starters Drew Neitzel and Drew Naymick to graduation, this team has seven versatile players clearly capable of contributing at a starter-quality level (Lucas, Walton, Allen, Summers, Morgan, Roe, Suton) and six more players who can be counted on to contribute as the situation requires.  Izzo can run out a small lineup (with Raymar Morgan at the 4 spot) or a big lineup (with Morgan at the 3 spot), depending on match-ups.   Morgan, Delvon Roe, and Goran Suton should be able to take advantage of mismatches against a number of Big Ten teams lacking in low-post depth this year.  Kalin Lucas will be handed the keys to the offense and should give the team a cohesive identity on offense, hopefully putting the team’s recent turnover woes behind them. twitter

The main reason for some level of caution regarding expectations is the health of Delvon Roe.  Roe comes in as the most highly-regarded recruit Izzo has brought into the program since Shannon Brown in 2003.  He’s expected to be a versatile power forward who can rebound and defend but also score from the perimeter.  The question is how quickly he’ll be able to get up to full game speed after undergoing surgery on both knees within the last year and missing nearly all of his senior season of high school basketball.  If he’s not able to contribute at a high level as a freshman, the team should still be in the Big Ten conference title hunt, but may not have the depth up front to make a serious run at the Final Four at Ford Field.

With Izzo once again scheduling a series of heavyweights for MSU’s nonconference slate, the team might get off to a slow start.  If Roe’s progression from the knee surgeries goes as expected, though, the team should be ready to play at a very high level once conference play begins in January and take their best shot at ending the program’s seven-year Big Ten title drought.