KJ of The Only Colors agreed to pitch in and answer some questions about Michigan State’s upcoming season. KJ has a few more friends at The Only Colors and they even talk football, but we know that he is a basketball blogger at heart. Make sure to bookmark the site or add it to your RSS reader because KJ is one of the best when it comes to statistical analysis.
Last Year’s Numbers:
31-7 (15-3), NCAA Runner Up
KenPom: 8, RPI: 4
Conference Returning Stats Breakdown
Could things really be better (on the basketball court) in East Lansing? What are your expectations for this year’s team?
Well, it’s going to be tough to top the 2008-09 season: an outright Big Ten championship to end a 7-year title drought and a run all the way to the national championship game to extend Tom Izzo’s every-four-year-player-has-been-to-a-Final-Four streak. But we certainly have a lot of great pieces back. The question is whether they can gel as well as the 2009 team did down the stretch. Contention for a repeat conference championship and another run to the Final Four are certainly reasonable goals. If the team doesn’t hit one of those two goals, the season will likely go down as a disappointment.
Kalin Lucas is easily the best point guard in the conference, maybe even the country, but does Michigan State really have the best backcourt in the nation?
The potential is there. The question is whether Durrell Summers and/or Chris Allen can take the next step as juniors. Summers, in particular, could conceivably become a 15-points-per-game scorer if he can shoot the ball consistently and make good decisions with the ball. Really, though, Tom Izzo-coached teams (like most basketball teams) succeed when a 8 to 9 players fit together into a cohesive unit, rather than relying on a single player or unit.
I think the departures of Goran Suton and Travis Walton will have a stronger effect than people expect. Suton was a warrior down the stretch and Walton was the defensive stopper that is a staple of Izzo teams. Who replaces Suton’s role? Walton’s?
Replacing Goran Suton is a tall order. As a senior, he did everything you can ask a big man to do: rebound the ball, play savvy defense in the post, handle the ball in traffic, shoot the ball from the outside. The hope is that Delvon Roe, who is reportedly 100% recovered from his knee surgeries, can step into the role of primary post player (more on that below).
Replacing Travis Walton will need to be more of a team effort. Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers will need to step up on defense to guard the opposition’s top perimeter scorers. Frankly, I expect the team will be a little weaker on defense with Walton gone. The trick may be to make sure they improve enough on offense to offset that eventuality.
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