MSU Men’s Basketball 2016/2017 = Small Ball?
November 11th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck


Get ready for a Roller-Coaster of a season as it relates to MSU Basketball.  Small is the new Big in the B1G.  At least it better be!

By necessity Michigan State University’s basketball team will play small ball for most if not all of the 2016/2017 season.  Why you ask?  Three names – Davis, Carter, Schilling.  Forward (6’10”) Deyonta Davis departed for the NBA after his freshman season. Senior Big Men Ben Carter (6’9″) and Gavin Schilling (6’9″) suffered what appear to be season long injuries to their lower body (aka Knee).  And TUS Executives suggest sitting out the season for both so as to enjoy a marvelous 2017/2018 season.

The Spartans are about to field a starting Lineup that is 3-5 inches shorter than originally envisioned.  Is this a bad thing? Possibly not.  MSU will play 3 even 4 wing type players in its rotation.

Bottom Line: Expect MSU to continue its NCAA Tournament streak – but it may be more at-risk than most would think.  Do not be surprised if MSU has four losses entering B1G play (Arizona, Kentucky, Duke, Battle for Atlantis Tournament).  Do not be surprised if MSU is .500 in B1G play.  If both situations occur, then Dayton in early March may be your vacation location.  However, this group of freshman are very talented, very talented.  MSU may well be in a terrific position come post-season. So who knows!

Quick Observations

New Players

Miles Bridges

Freshman forward Miles Bridges (6’7″ 230) was touted by some recruiting experts as the best Izzo has ever landed.  That is high praise.  In two exhibition games Bridges demonstrated quite clearly he was the best player on the floor – not even close.  Bridges is exceptionally versatile; offensively he can play the 1-4 positions and defensively the 2-4 positions.  If others can pick up the slack, then Miles will not be forced to over-produce and or double-teamed by opponents.

Nick Ward

Freshman Forward Nick Ward (6’8″ 250) will likely pick up most of the minutes due to the injuries to Carter and Schilling.  Izzo calls Ward a “poor-man’s Zach Randolph.” In the two exhibition games Ward revealed he possess a great awareness of the court, good hands, a solid shooting touch and quick feet.  Ward likes to pound the boards and mix things up in the paint. The good news?  On offense Ward may see the Free-Throw Line frequently – and he can shoot with a high percentage.  The bad news? On defense Ward may not adapt to the college game rules and may sit for long stretches because of foul trouble.  Ward has a weight issue – which is currently in check.  Nick has lost 30 pounds to be in better condition.

Cassius Winston

Freshman Guard Cassius Winston (6’0″ 185) has the smarts and tools to be the floor leader at MSU.  By seasons-end he may well be that player.  In 2016/2017 MSU and Izzo need him to be that player. For now, Winston is a little-rough around the edges and that will be exposed by more experienced players of comparable talent.  However, Winston is used to leading his team and winning titles in the most competitive of environments – and that bodes well for MSU

Joshua Langford

Wing Joshua Langford (6’5″ 210) did not play in the exhibition due to injury (ham-string).  Izzo says Langford is already “the best defender” and “best shooter” on the team.  Hmm!

 Returning Players

Kyle Aherns

Kyle looks bigger and stronger, but in the two exhibition games he looked a bit shell-shocked at the prospect of starting or being first in the rotation of substitutions (e.g., OMG you passed the ball to me – what do I do?).

Alvin Ellis III

AE has always had the ability to be very good player at the college-level.  However, Ellis likes college life better than he likes working towards being a better basketball player.  Alvin has matured physically but anything out of Ellis should be viewed as a pleasant surprise rather than an expectation.

Tum-Tum Nairn

I want to believe all the hype around Nairn’s improved shooting and increased ability to drive to the hoop in traffic.  I did not really see it in the two exhibition games.  Nairn is serviceable and we should be pleased.

Eron Harris

Similar to Nairn the press-releases are not matching reality.  Harris looks little different than last season.  Most would hope Harris has the breakout season we would expect. However, Harris is a singular type player on a team coached by man who expects team play over individual play. Could there be a change in status?  Sure, but do not bet your retirement savings on it occurring.

Matt McQuaid

The sophomore guard from Texas (6’4″ 200) was a huge plus and surprise for MSU.  McQuaid is savvy and willing to follow and re-direct at every Izzo suggestion, encouragement and rant.  Matt continues to look like he is 14 year-old from a facial perspective, but he knows the system and has the knack to succeed under pressure.  Matt played much better in the 2nd exhibition game against tougher competition. Let’s hope there is no sophomore jinx for McQuaid.

Kenny Goins

Albeit unplanned, the sophomore forward/center from Troy (6’6″ 230) was a key (and positive) piece to MSU hopes last season.  His untimely injuries proved to be huge. In the two exhibition games Goins demonstrated yet again (in this case asked to play the 5 spot) that he can pick up and deliver despite being dealt a lousy hand of cards.  Short of miracles each and every game – Goins always delivers better than expected.

Matt Van Dyk

The Senior forward/center from Imlay City (6’5″ 220) has moved from walk-on, Scout Team, Mop Up Time to Scholarship player.  MSU seems to find one of these gems with regularity.  Matt may see little minutes. However, do not be surprised if he plays more, via a combo foul-trouble for others and earned by being a steady serviceable guy.

David Nsengiyumva

A Freshman forward/center (6’9″ 205) from Nairobi.

Greg Roy

A Junior guard (6’3″ 210) from Ft. Worth Texas.  Roy has earned his stripes in similar fashion and Van Dyk.

Connor George

A Red-shirt Freshman (6’3″ 200) from Okemos. and the son of MSU Volleyball Coach Cathy George.  Connor has bulked up a bit.

Injured Players

Gavin Schilling

The Senior Center (6’9″ 240) from Chicago Illinois was slated to be the starting Center.  Schilling has had a solid but somewhat under-served career at MSU.  A pre-season injury to the lower-body has forced surgery.  No return date has been established.

Ben Carter

The Graduate Transfer Forward/Center (6’9″ 240) from Las Vegas Nevada (and UNLV) had won a starting position and was looked upon to someone mitigate the loss of  Davis.  A pre-season injury to the lower-body has forced surgery.  No return date has been established.

One Response  
  • JerseyJohn writes:
    November 11th, 20166:19 pmat

    I don’t think ben carter can play next year since he is already a graduate transfer. as for schilling, it may be time for him to go either way.

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