Now that the Top 25 has come out, it is time to preview some of the best college teams in the 2010-11 season. The key to having a successful team is having the perfect blend of athleticism, fundamentals and chemistry. Last week, we broke down the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils. This week’s profile will be on Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans.
Tom Izzo is known for taking raw athletes and turning them into great basketball players, and this Michigan State team is filled with athletes. Kalin Lucas will return from his torn Achilles, and while he is not expected to return with the same speed that he had before, he was never known as a great athlete. Still, 14.8 points per game in the Big Ten speaks for itself. The team’s best athlete may be freshman Adreian Payne. Scouts have said that if Payne realizes his potential and begins to constantly play hard, he could have star potential. At 6-10 and 225 pounds, he runs and jumps like a guard. Payne will be a fun project for Coach Izzo. Delvon Roe, Durrell Summers, Draymond Green and Derrick Nix are also good athletes, who each can do serious damage on the defensive end. The key is for the whole team to stay healthy. Many of the players on this roster are known for being injury-prone, and if this is the case again, the team could be in trouble.
With Chris Allen, one of Michigan State’s top returning players, being dismissed from the team, they will look to the bench for more scoring. Korie Lucious is expected to step up into Allen’s scoring role, but he will be suspended for a few games due to a drunk driving incident. Expect freshman Keith Appling to step up in the first few games. Appling’s game has been compared to Allen Iverson since he can score no matter who is guarding him, but isn’t known for his point guard skills. His ability to score will also be needed if Lucas is rusty from his return. This team has some good shooters in Lucas, Lucious, Appling, Rusell Byrd and Austin Thornton. They should not struggle in this aspect, but consistency is vital. This is a young team and if they do not consistently knock down shots, they will need their big men to step up big time.
There is no doubt that this team faced adversity this past summer. Rumors came about Coach Izzo leaving for the Cavaliers. Allen was dismissed from the team. Lucious was caught drunk driving. If there’s one thing that brings a team together, it is tough times like these. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “We acquire the strength we have overcome.” If this is the case for this Spartans team, they should be set. Having Raymar Morgan leave will hurt, as he was one of their leaders on and off the court, but Lucas should have no problem being the vocal leader for this team since will have the same role as last season.
With all of the question marks surrounding players on this team, the player with the biggest shoes to fill is Durrell Summers. In the NCAA Tournament last year, Summers looked like a star. He played with intensity and consistency, something he wasn’t always known for. The key will be for Summers to pick up from where he left off. He’s capable of dominating all aspects of the game. Another key will be for him to tighten up his perimeter defense since Allen was their defensive stopper. Luckily for Summers, Robbie Hummel is already one player whom he will not have to worry about guarding.
Michigan State had a rough summer. They have the tools to win an NCAA Championship. It will be key for success will be to be professional, stay healthy and focus on the defensive end in a tough Big Ten.
What do you think?
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