Izzo Subdued, Focused at MSU Madness

EAST LANSING, Mich. — No motorcycles. No cannons. No race cars. Just a jacket and a ring.

Tom Izzo went subtle tonight at Michigan State Madness, wearing his pumpkin orange Hall of Fame jacket and boulder-sized ring as he made his entrance. But he was quick to take it off and get back to business, donning a green and white jacket and whistle instead.

The tone at the Breslin Center was more subdued than in recent years, maybe because of the football team’s lackluster performance this season, maybe because of the stinging memory of Middle Tennessee State. But Izzo and his team are ready to get back to work and put those memories behind them.

The near-capacity crowd of students, alumni and top recruits got their first look at the star-studded freshman class, highlighted by high-flying Miles Bridges. He received the loudest ovation during player introductions and did not disappoint.

The Flint native dazzled during warmups with rim-rocking dunks that seemed to defy gravity. Sure, we’re totally overreacting because it’s just MSU Madness, but he sure does look like one of the best all-around athletes the Spartans have had in years.

Not to be outdone was redshirt senior guard Eron Harris, who drained a game-high six threes in the 20-minute scrimmage. Senior forward Ben Carter was not in attendance due to a knee injury and senior forward Gavin Schilling did not play in the glorified practice.

Junior guard Tum Tum Nairn sunk the eventual game-winning layup for the green team over freshman Nick Ward with ten seconds remaining. The teams combined for 88 points in 20 minutes; Let’s just say defense was optional.

Another noticeable characteristic of the scrimmage was the lack of size on the floor. At one point, 6-foot-5 Kyle Ahrens was the tallest player on the floor for the green team. With Carter out for an extended period of time, Ward and Schilling will be relied on to man the center position, with Bridges playing basically any other position on the floor.

Spartan fans: Take a breath, step back, and remember this is only one scrimmage. Don’t draw any conclusions from tonight, other than basketball is back and it feels oh so good.

Michigan State’s first exhibition game is Oct. 27 vs. Northwood University. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Original article – http://impact89fm.org/sports/izzo-subdued-focused-at-msu-madness/

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Performance Review: Marvin Clark Jr.

Originally published April 25, 2016 HERE

Impact Izzone will be handing out performance reviews for each Spartan in the following weeks. The series will start with the freshmen and move up the classes. Stay tuned for the rest of our grades! Check out Matt McQuaid’s performance review here.

2015-16 stats: 9.7 mins, 3.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 54.2% FG, 42.3% 3-PT

Blake Froling

Marvin Clark Jr. had a disappointing sophomore season. After a freshman year that showed incredibly promising signs of potential, Clark regressed. Granted, it was not entirely his fault. Clark battled injury through the early part of the season, then battled the depth of MSU’s bench. With freshman Deyonta Davis and redshirt freshman Kenny Goins earning more and more playing time, Clark saw his role dwindle. In the month of January, Clark only played a total of 37 minutes, while being held out of two games.

But when Goins injured his knee against Indiana on Valentine’s Day, Clark got his opportunity. He averaged 13.4 minutes per game in the final 10 games of the season compared to just 4.1 minutes in his previous 10. Clark’s ability to stretch the floor and shoot threes provided a different look to the previous lineups Coach Izzo used where no bigs could step out.

Clark decided that he would not be seeing the floor much once again next season and announced that he would be transferring from Michigan State, deciding to move on to St. John’s. After sitting out a year, Clark could be a valuable asset off the bench for a mid-level high major team that’s one piece away from being great. Coach Izzo knows he’ll be missing a great talent, but with four incoming freshmen next year, Clark just would not see the minutes he deserves.

Final grade: C+

Davey Segal

The clock finally ran out on Marv Time, as the numbers this past season speak for themselves. Less than 10 minutes per game, and just about four points to go along with two-and-a-half boards don’t equate to a happy player. Playing time was the overarching reason that Clark Jr. ended up transferring to St. Johns, but it wasn’t the only reason.

As Blake mentioned above, injuries, as well as a plethora of talent on the Spartans’ roster, were the downfall of Marvin Clark Jr. in 2015-2016. Coming off a wonderful season, where he helped Michigan State advance to the Final Four with his electric dunks off the baseline and clutch three pointers, this past season was a disappointment, to say the least.

The addition of Deyonta Davis, the emergence of Kenny Goins, coupled with the myriad of injuries led to Clark Jr.’s decision to ultimately transfer. He will be a big loss for Michigan State, especially with the frontcourt for this upcoming season being thin as paper. However, for the Red Storm, Clark Jr. will bring an element of athleticism, as well as finesse.

Final Grade: C

David Manion

Marvin Clark Jr. was expected to make great strides going into the 2015-2016 campaign after posting splendid numbers as a freshman. Clark scored 4.5 points per game and made half of his shots while averaging 11 minutes per game. He embraced the role as a bench player and would consistently provide a spark by hitting a few shots and playing intensive defense that would get the Spartans on a roll. However, he failed to carry the momentum of being a crucial 6th man into next year.

It’s safe to say that Clark had a sophomore slump. Faster than the blink of an eye, he found himself falling behind on the depth chart. It was a culmination of him struggling to perform successfully as well as the emergence of a plethora of key players. Deyonta Davis was a dynamic piece that was added to the puzzle of an already deep position of forwards, including Costello, Schilling, Goins, and even Wollenman. They were all ahead of Clark throughout the majority of the season, which caused Clark’s confidence and job security to take a major hit.

Here was a good player that was surrounded by an abundance of talent and potential. It was really bad timing for Clark as new guys like Davis and Goins started to peak. At the same time, however, Clark was in a state of funk and failed to recapture his rhythm. He couldn’t hit shots, missed rebounds, and ultimately did not play to the best of his ability. His game was thrown off mainly because of his confidence declining and the pressure to excel his overall pace from the year prior.

The junior forward will no longer be with the Spartans in the following season. He announced on April 20 that he would be transferring to Saint John’s University and has two years left of eligibility. Spartan nation can envision Marvin Clark contributing early and often. Personally, I believe he can start or at the very least have a strong impact on most teams in any of the Power 5 conferences. Clark has the tangibles to guide him toward a successful college career and beyond. Don’t let my final grade on his performance review confuse you. This grade reflects his performance this season, not as a player overall. With some hard work and dedication, he can advance his game to the next level and possibly have the opportunity to play overseas and maybe even in the NBA.

Final Grade: C

Ryan Cole

Without a doubt, this past season was tough on Marvin Clark Jr. The sophomore was coming off a surprising freshman year in which he had a crucial role in Michigan State’s Final Four, so expectations for his second year in the program were quite high. Unfortunately for Clark, a foot injury sprouted up in the early fall, limiting his practice time in the preseason. That set him behind the other power forwards on the roster, namely Deyonta Davis and Kenny Goins.

On top of starting the season off on a bad note, his struggles continued in nonconference play. He wasn’t helped by Davis and Goins coming into their own and setting their feet in Tom Izzo’s lineup, making it even tougher for Clark to sniff significant minutes. His 9.7 minutes per game were 11th on the team, behind his power forward counterparts in Davis, Goins, and even Javon Bess. That was probably the biggest reason for his transfer away from Michigan State.

All in all, his talent level and athleticism are enough to make his new head coach at St. John’s, Chris Mullin, drool. In his limited minutes this year, Clark did do a nice job of getting on the scoring ledger. I was impressed with his improvement during conference play and thought he would play a big part in the next two Spartan seasons. But it was obviously a worry to Spartan fans that Tom Izzo trusted a former walk-on in Goins to be the backup power forward, and that is what I believe to be the reasoning behind his transfer. He should succeed at St. John’s, but his career at Michigan State will likely be subtitled with “what could’ve been”.

Final Grade: C

Performance Review: Matt McQuaid

Originally posted April 14, 2016 HERE 

Impact Izzone will be handing out performance reviews for each Spartan in the following weeks. The series will start with the freshmen and move up the classes. Stay tuned for the rest of our grades! Check out Deyonta Davis’ performance review here.

Matt McQuaid 2015-16 stats: 15.8 mins, 3.5 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 38.9% FG, 40.9% 3-PT


Blake Froling

Matt McQuaid came to East Lansing with significantly lower expectations than his freshman counterpart Deyonta Davis. McQuaid looked like the 12-year-old brother of the actual recruit Michigan State signed. But the babyfaced assassin played like a grown man when he got his chance.

With the lack of depth at the point guard position, the sharpshooter was forced to slide over to the point and run the offense, something he was not accustomed to. And he ran the offense admirably with a 2-to-1 assist/turnover ratio. As a shooter, McQuaid delivered on expectations, shooting 40 percent from long distance. But like most freshmen, he was incredibly streaky. McQuaid had five games with at least eight points and 10 games with zero points.

But where Matt surprised people was his big-time defense. In the second game of the year, the biggest game of his life up to that point, in the United Center against Kansas, McQuaid made a series of defensive stops at the end of the game that propelled MSU to victory. The image of the seemingly quiet McQuaid screaming after a block and screaming again after burying a three stands out as his shining moment.

Grade: B


Davey Segal

Although Steph Curry has coined the nickname “The Baby Faced Assassin”, Matt McQuaid could be a close second at the college level. When I saw him on campus for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who let a freshman high school recruit on campus?” But his play didn’t reflect his looks, starting off at the Champions Classic and his clutch shot against Kansas.

I was at that game in Chicago, and it’s safe to say I lost my mind, along with McQuaid himself, when that corner three hit nylon, and after he recorded a crucial block on the defensive end. That was McQuaid’s statement to begin the season, and Coach Izzo took notice.

McQuaid isn’t a natural point guard, but he played the 1 for most of the season (especially when Tum Tum Nairn’s foot injury became a real problem). Although he was put in a rather difficult situation, he thrived, in my opinion, and his shot was smooth as silk all season. His season statistics, as shown above, are rather solid for a freshman under Tom Izzo, and I expect much more out of McQuaid next season, with one year at MSU under his belt.

P.S. — I wrote this and didn’t see Blake’s baby faced assassin reference, I swear on Kevin Harvick’s life.

Grade: B


David Manion

There’s a reason why “Everything is bigger in Texas” is a popular saying. The Duncanville native reflects this motto with his sky high potential of possibly emerging into one of the best shooters in Michigan State Basketball history. His smooth shooting and prudent shot selection are the two main keys that will enhance his scoring and transform him into an offensive juggernaut in the foreseeable future.

The sensational 6-foot-5 shooting guard arrived in East Lansing with anything but soaring expectations, as his Freshman counterpart Deyonta Davis stole the spotlight. McQuaid, however, flourished with hardly any attention for a good portion of his Spartan debut. One of his best moments came early in the season against Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic. He came off the bench late in the second half in a tight contest and delivered with two clutch threes to put the game out of reach. He finished the night a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. Ever since his coming out party, he has stepped up time and time again. The sharp shooter excelled from three point land, draining 41 percent of those shots.

The lethal scoring threat does have some shortcomings. He was inconsistent throughout conference play, as he only averaged nearly four points per game. This stat suggests that Money McQuaid was either hot as fire or cold as ice. His inability to drive the basketball has made him a one-dimensional guard, as the majority of his shots came from long range. His current skillset strongly reminds me of Nik Stauskas’ freshman year at Michigan. Stauskas was able to develop his ball handling skills and his vision of reading defenses his sophomore year, which revolutionized him into a multi-dimensional scoring machine. Hopefully those improved skills translate to McQuaid. Improving his 73 percent free throw shooting couldn’t hurt either.

Despite the growing pains he might experience during his transition towards becoming a complete guard, McQuaid has a very bright future. His quickness and ability to get open on fast breaks will result in him stretching the floor, especially if he becomes a force driving to the hoop. His defensive game was a very pleasant surprise as he was often glued to his opponent, in large part due to unleashing his inner energizer bunny after a made shot. After his promising first impression, I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished his career as one of the top scorers in MSU basketball.

Grade: B


Ryan Cole

On a team loaded with guards, Matt McQuaid did a nice job of playing his way into Tom Izzo’s rotation in 2015-16. The 6-foot-5 wing man out of Duncanville, Texas, was expected to play this season, but I think he outperformed his expectations. While his stats weren’t eye-popping, he played a key role in Michigan State’s stellar regular season.

The biggest key to McQuaid’s season was his competence at the backup point guard position. By nature he is a shooting guard and has been for his entire life. But when he came to East Lansing, Izzo (by necessity) switched the lanky shooter’s position to the point, due to the lack of a backup behind Tum Tum Nairn. For playing a position he has never played in his life, I thought McQuaid held his own in his minutes. He improved his ball-handling skills throughout the season so that he was no longer a liability against the full-court press.

On top of that, I was a big fan of his shot selection. For a freshman, McQuaid showed veteran-like reserve in his shot selection (albeit sometimes a bit too much reserve). Bad shot selection can lead to low shooting percentages, and McQuaid’s 41 percent rate from three-point range was impressive for a first-year player. Compare that rate to the freshman season of one of the better shooters in Michigan State history, Denzel Valentine, who shot only 30 percent from long range in his first year in East Lansing. Obviously, I’m not saying that McQuaid will end up a better player than Valentine, but his range–and ability to use that range controllably–are strengths to his game.

McQuaid didn’t offer astounding defense, but at times he made big defensive plays to fire up the team. He forced a crucial jump ball against Maryland, and his performance down the stretch against Kansas (multiple clutch threes and a block) endeared himself to Spartan fans for the rest of the season. His driving game could definitely use work, although I was pleasantly surprised with some of his moves considering he was labeled a shooter coming in.

As far as his future goes, I fully expect McQuaid to move back to the shooting guard position this offseason, thanks to the arrival of a second true point guard in Cassius Winston. This will allow McQuaid to play more comfortably and will offer him more shooting opportunities. But for this year, the freshman did a nice job of carving out a role and set himself up for a solid Spartan career.

Grade: B+

Performance Review: Deyonta Davis

Impact Izzone will be handing out performance reviews for each Spartan in the following weeks. The series will start with the freshmen and move up the classes. Stay tuned for the rest of our grades!

Deyonta Davis 2015-16 stats: 18.6 mins, 7.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 59.8% FG


Blake Froling

Davis was tough to figure out when he first got to East Lansing. The quietest kid on campus with perhaps the most potential, we had no idea what to expect. Was he going to be a three-year project or a one-year superstar? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

With the extraordinary depth of the MSU squad, Davis was not relied upon by any means as a go-to scorer. In fact, he was only No. 6 on the team in total minutes and No. 5 in points. Davis started 16 of the last 17 games and provided a great one-two punch in the paint alongside Matt Costello. But it was his defense that separated him from his peers. His shot blocking ability was by far the best on the team and one of the best in the Big Ten. That’s what pro scouts love about Davis.

He showed flashes of promise with his post up game, but for the most part it was his active rebounding and putbacks that made him so valuable. His game against Wisconsin in East Lansing was perhaps the pinnacle of his season. Davis was matched up with Nigel Hayes, who torched Davis in the last meeting. Well it was Davis who dominated round two, limiting Hayes to five points on 1-for-13 shooting. Games like those make you remember why Davis was a five-star recruit and is currently considering making a jump to the NBA.

Grade: A-


Davey Segal

Being named Mr. Basketball for the state of Michigan before entering your freshman year at a basketball powerhouse in East Lansing means that you have lofty expectations — and that’s what Deyonta Davis had when he put on the green and white.

The second half of his season was definitely his brightest, as he started all but one game of the last 17 and was a defensive juggernaut. The play that I will remember him for most was his block on Diamond Stone at the end of the Maryland game to advance to the Big Ten championship game. Davis’ huge wingspan, coupled with his knack of awareness in the post, makes him one of the best defensive players on the Spartans roster.

But that’s only if he comes back next season for his sophomore year, and forgoes the NBA Draft and millions of dollars. I’m on record as saying I think he will come back. He has some things to improve upon, most notably his shyness of shooting the basketball with his back away from the bucket. He did it in high school, so why not do it at MSU? Davis was a top five player for Michigan State this past season, and he was a pleasure to watch. I think I echo all Spartan fans’ sentiments when I say I hope he comes back next season and gets revenge.

Grade: B+


David Manion

Before the start of the 2015-2016 basketball season, Spartan fans envisioned Deyonta Davis playing an effective role coming off the bench. The enormous depth of forwards including Costello, Schilling, and Wollenman overshadowed the nothing but hyped 6-foot-10 Mr. Basketball of Michigan. However, Davis showed that the hype was real after his overall impressive debut as a Spartan.

The sensational freshman out of Muskegon played all 35 games for about 19 minutes per game. He netted eight points per game, also recording six rebounds and two blocks. And if that is not enough to impress you, then maybe his stellar 60 percent made shots from the field will do the trick. Davis ranked in the top five on his squad in each of these categories and led the Spartans in blocks per game and field goal percentage.

The main driving force behind his success, of course, is his size. The combination of his expansive arm span and his sky-high hops proved to be lethal, which ultimately led to his swat fest and crashing the boards with ease. This particular display earned him a spot in the starting lineup around the halfway mark of the season. His lengthy size helped him scoring-wise as well, as most of his made shots were within five feet.

The star freshman is not perfect by any means, as Davis was shaky on defense throughout the season. Besides his consistent rebounding and blocking, he struggled defensively maintaining his ground on the interior. Nimble and strong offensive big boys gave Davis fits. He needs to improve on contesting shots and applying more pressure in the post. The bony giant can become the firm giant by pumping iron, which will drastically improve his game. From a leadership standpoint, he has to become more vocal with his teammates and coaches. Hearing Davis talk is as rare as seeing Bill Belichick smile.

Davis surpassed many people’s expectations (including mine) as he served as a valuable asset on the Spartans. His size and post game can take him far, but his lack of versatility and limited ball movement may hold him back. Hopefully he returns to MSU to develop into more of a complete player and possibly take Izzo and company to the promised land.

Grade: A-


Ryan Cole

Whether it was his rim-rocking putback dunks or his jaw-dropping blocks, Deyonta Davis impressed in his first (and only?) season as a Spartan. The Muskegon monster, all 6-foot-10 of him, came in with raw athletic ability and overall did a solid job of improving on that ability.

Only at times was Davis a force offensively. He became Denzel Valentine’s favorite alley-oop candidate, and with length like Davis’s, you can’t blame him. But outside of lobs and putbacks, I felt like Davis was not doing enough on the offensive side of the ball. There was never a moment where he was a top option for scoring the basketball. He developed a mid-range jumper later in the season, gaining confidence in that shot as conference play advanced. With his back to the basket, Davis was either hit or miss. His jump hook was pretty and was hardly ever blocked, thanks to his length. But I’d like to see Davis put some muscle on to his wiry frame and use more power against opposing bigs.

Davis was also hit-or-miss on defense. The highlight to his entire game is definitely his shot-blocking ability, and with 64 blocks, he set the freshman record at Michigan State. Davis also developed his footwork on defense over the course of the year, holding his own against other wiry bigs. His signature performance was against Wisconsin star forward Nigel Hayes on Feb. 18. Davis held the first team All-Big Ten forward to 1-of-13 shooting and only five points in a crucial win for MSU. However, his body is still not fit for defending the big, burly centers that the Big Ten usually fields, so he will need to bulk up this offseason to become a complete player. Overall, Davis was outrageously impressive in his strengths, but his weaknesses must be fixed for him to become an elite player.

Grade: B

BREAKING: Marvin Clark Jr., Javon Bess Transferring

Sophomore forwards Javon Bess and Marvin Clark Jr. will be transferring from Michigan State, as first reported by Jon Rothstein.

MSU just released statements from both players regarding their decisions.

Bess:

“My two years at Michigan State have been full of great memories and relationships that will last a lifetime. But after some great meetings with Coach Izzo following the season, I believe it’s in my best interests to seek an expanded role as I look elsewhere to continue my basketball career. I’d like to thank my teammates and coaches for all they’ve done for me. And a special thank you to Spartan fans for their support over the last two seasons.”

Clark:

“I want to say that nothing can replace the experiences I gained while playing for Coach Izzo. I’ll always love and respect him for giving me the opportunity to put on a Spartan uniform. With that said, I do feel it’s in my best interests to find a new home to continue my college career.

 “My time here has been unbelievable. From Spartan Nation supporting me and giving life to us on a nightly basis, to the teachings of the coaching staff and finally my teammates and the bonds of brotherhood we’ve developed, it’s been a great experience.”

Coach Izzo also issued a statement regarding Bess and Clark.

“We wish Javon and Marvin nothing but the best in their careers. Javon battled through injuries as a freshman and Marvin had similar adversity this year, but I’m confident they both have bright futures. I’m going to do whatever I can to help them find the right fit moving forward.”

Both players struggled to earn minutes this season. Bess started the first 13 games of the season, averaging 5.5 points per game before being relegated to the bench. He finished averaging just 2.9 points in 11 minutes per game. His lack of size and suspect shooting made it tough for Coach Izzo to put him on the floor.

Clark battled an injury early in the season, severely cutting into his minutes for the rest of the year. He began to make more of an impact when forward Kenny Goins was sidelined with a knee injury on February 14. Clark averaged 3.9 points per game and shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Both players have two years of eligibility remaining. There has been no formal announcement as to where each player will be transferring to yet.

Opinion: Take the Money and Run, Deyonta

Deyonta Davis has about one month to make the biggest decision of his entire life. Will he play another year at Michigan State, or make the leap to the NBA Draft?

At the beginning of the season, even the most optimistic NBA experts did not project Davis to leave after his first season, let alone be good enough to reach lottery status. But alas, here we are and Davis finds himself in a peculiar position. He played well enough to prove what everyone already knew: dude has ridiculous upside. But will he be able to reach his potential in one or two years? That’s the $1.9 million question.

Davis did not dominate on offense. He was not the team’s best player. Some might say he was the fourth best player. He only averaged 18.6 minutes per game, good enough for No. 6 on the team. There have been eight games in which Davis played 15 minutes or less. He only played 30 minutes or more once the entire season. For a player with so much talent, MSU did not really use him much, mostly because of all the other talent around him. And that talent is only going to grow next season.

Michigan State’s highly publicized recruiting class is one of the best in the nation right now. With the possible addition of Josh Jackson, it will be the undisputed best in the nation. What does this mean for Davis? It means he will be playing on a team loaded with talent and numerous scoring options, leaving him to be the rebound and put-back guy like he was this season. Will that up his draft stock? Not very much. So why risk it?

The Association cares about potential and age. Deyonta has both going for him right now.

Here is where some mock drafts think Davis will be selected:

USA Today: No. 19

NBADraft.net: No. 13

Yahoo!: No. 11

Sports Illustrated: No. 11

Draft Express: No. 13

ESPN: No. 12

If Davis gets selected at No. 11, he will have the chance to earn nearly $2 million in his first year. If he is selected No. 19, that figure drops to about $1.3 million. Still, that would be $1.3 million more than he would make in East Lansing next year. That figure would be haunting him as he stays up late studying for a midterm.

The average age of the lottery picks (picks 1-14) in the 2015 NBA Draft was 19.4 years old. Davis is 19. The NBA values greatly how many young years they can get out of a draft pick. Case in point was Adreian Payne. Talent wise, not many Spartan fans would argue the fact that Payne was a much better all-around player than Davis is right now. But when he entered the draft after his senior season, he was already 23, making him the oldest player selected in the top 15. He was passed over by many teams for players that might not have been as good as him, but were three or four years younger. Another season in the college ranks means another prime year lost in the eyes of NBA GMs.

Skill wise, Davis is not quite ready for the NBA yet. His offense is in the embryonic stages, but he has shown flashes of brilliance with his back to the basket. With his long, skinny (some might say wiry) frame, he will need to develop some kind of midrange game in order to survive with the likes of Andre Drummond (6-foot-11, 279 pounds) and Dwight Howard (6-foot-11, 265 pounds). Davis will not be bullying anyone in the post anytime soon, but the NBA can fix that.

What the NBA is enamored with about Davis is his defense, particularly his shot blocking ability. Davis set the MSU freshman record for most blocks in a season and led the Spartans in rejections this year. None were bigger than his swat of Diamond Stone in the closing seconds of the Big Ten Tournament semifinal game against Maryland. Plays like that get you noticed, and Davis made his impact on the biggest stage.

Some people say, “if he is not ready yet, why not develop another year at Michigan State?” Good question.

NBA teams would much rather develop their own talent rather than have someone else do it for them, even if it’s one of the best college coaches in the nation. He could spend a year learning their system so he can hit the ground running in a year or two, or spend a year in Izzo’s system and have to delay the learning process in the NBA.

Another question Davis has to ask himself is, “How much could I improve my draft stock by staying another year?” The answer is not much.

With Davis already projected to be a lottery pick, even a standout season won’t move him up too much. Let’s say he stays at MSU, has an incredible season and gets picked in the top five. He could make upwards of $3 million in his first season, compared to about $1.5 million if he is taken near the end of the lottery. But Davis would need to have an absolutely incredible, breakout season for that to happen, and he won’t have it next season.

The NBA Early Entry Eligibility Deadline is April 24, but if Davis does not sign an agent right away, he can change his mind and come back to East Lansing as late as June 13. As soon as he signs with an agent, there is no looking back.

As a proud member of Spartan Nation, I by no means want Deyonta Davis to trade in his green and white for some greener pastures in the Association. But if you look at the situation from an objective point of view, leaving for the NBA is the best decision for him right now.

Originally Posted: http://impact89fm.org/sports/opinion-take-the-money-and-run-deyonta/

Forbes, Spartans Shoot Down Buckeyes

Coach Izzo ripped into his team during his halftime interview, despite holding a five-point advantage. He questioned the effort and leadership of his seniors in particular, and they responded.

Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello combined for 60 of Michigan State’s points, en route to a 82-61 win. Forbes was deadly from beyond the arc, knocking down seven of 10 from range.

The red-hot Buckeyes were dealt a crushing blow even before the opening tip. Star guard Jae’Sean Tate was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Tate averaged 11.7 points per game and shot 52 percent from the field. Without him, the Ohio State offense sputtered.

By halftime, the game had the makings of yet another instant classic between Thad Matta and Tom Izzo. Coming into Tuesday’s affair, seven of the last nine games were decided by four points or less.

Michigan State couldn’t pull away and Ohio State couldn’t make any runs. Then the threes started falling for MSU. Forbes hit six of his seven in the second frame and helped Sparty make their final run to bury the Buckeyes. OSU was just 5-14 from three-point range, compared to 14-22 for MSU. Not many teams can be outplayed on the perimeter that much and expect to win.

Valentine turned in a “pedestrian” performance by his standards, “only” putting up 17 points to go along with eight assists and five rebounds. Just another ho-hum night for the Player of the Year candidate. Costello turned in 16 points, missing just one shot and grabbing six rebounds. Whatever Coach Izzo said to him at halftime certainly did the trick.

Sophomore forward Marvin Clark Jr. finally got his rhythm back, hitting a pair of long guns in the first half and restoring his confidence. Clark is getting his chance to shine after Kenny Goins was sidelined with a knee injury and brings a pick-and-pop element that Goins lacked.

This game was especially important for Ohio State, which was on the wrong side of the bubble coming into the matchup. The Buckeyes had an RPI of 73 and had only one RPI Top 50 win. Not the type of resume that screams tournament team.

With the win, MSU moves into sole possession of that key No. 4 spot in the Big Ten, which would give them a double bye in the conference tournament. The Spartans are just two games back of first place Indiana, and with a soft remaining schedule could have a chance at a share of the regular season title.

Up next for MSU is a date with lowly Penn State. The Nittany Lions own the No. 11 spot in the Big Ten, but recently played the role of spoiler to Indiana and Iowa. Tip-off is scheduled for noon at the Breslin Center, and the game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

Originally posted: http://impact89fm.org/sports/forbes-spartans-shoot-down-buckeyes/

Denzel Vs. Buddy: Who Will Dominate the (College Basketball) World?

The Player of the Year race will come down to two finalists: Denzel Valentine and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield. Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn and Kay Felder are all outstanding players, but this is a two horse race.

Both of their respective teams are nationally ranked. Both teams could make a deep run into the tournament. So what separates them?

Head-to-head

Valentine and Hield have gone toe-to-toe twice in their careers. Valentine is 2-0.

The first matchup came in their sophomore years in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. MSU was ranked No. 1 in the land and undefeated at the time, while the Sooners were unranked. Hield was in the starting lineup, while Valentine came off the bench. The Spartans came out on top 87-76. Here’s how they performed:

Player Valentine Hield
Minutes 30 30
Points 7 13
FG 3-7 6-12
3-PT 1-1 1-5
FT 0-1 0-1
Rebounds 6 6
Assists 5 0

The next matchup came last year in the Sweet 16. Oklahoma entered the game as the favorite to move on as the No. 3 seed, while MSU played the role of underdog in the No. 7 seed. Valentine and Hield were both offensive forces for their respective teams, but it was Valentine who carried his squad to victory in the second half. Here’s how they performed:

Player Valentine Hield
Minutes 38 38
Points 18 21
FG 6-17 7-17
3-PT 4-11 3-10
FT 2-2 4-4
Rebounds 7 6
Assists 2 2

Incredible how similar the two players were. We should have known that an epic showdown for Player of the Year was on the horizon.

Season Stats

Let’s take a look at how the two compare statistically this season (stats as of February 19):

Player Valentine Hield
MPG 32.7 34.6
PPG 19.7 25.2
FG% 47.3% 50.5%
3-PT% 44.6% 48.8%
FT% 85.5% 89%
RPG 7.7 5.6
APG 7.3 2.2

According to College Basketball Reference, no player since at least 1994 has averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game like Valentine has.

On the other hand, Hield could become the first player to join the elite 50-50-90 club (50 percent field goal shooting, 50 percent three-point shooting, 90 percent three-point shooting) since Salim Stoudemire in the 2004-2005 season.

Advanced Stats

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more advanced stats for all you sabermetric fans out there.

Player Valentine Hield
ORtg 127.4 125.8
DRtg 92.7 100.3
PER 30.1 29.4

Confused? Here are some definitions:

ORtg – offensive rating, an estimate of points produced per 100 possessions. The current NCAA leader is James Thompson IV from Eastern Michigan at 139.5.

DRtg – defensive rating, an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions. The current NCAA leader is Egidijus Mockevicius from Evansville at 83.8.

PER – player efficiency rating, an all-in-one stat that factors in offensive and defensive measurements and is pace-adjusted. It also subtracts for bad stats such as turnovers. An average score is 15 and the NCAA leader is John Brown from High Point at 37.

Both players are offensive juggernauts, but Valentine clearly makes more of an impact on the defensive side of the ball. There is one area of the game that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet but might be the most important.

Versatility

Valentine has been asked to do so much for this Michigan State squad over the course of this season. He routinely plays three positions throughout the game and mostly runs the point, a position he has never played before.

“As far as the versatility and being able to do everything, I don’t think [Denzel] Valentine gets enough credit for his defense,” said Coach Izzo after the Indiana game. “Everything we’ve asked that kid to get better at, he’s gotten better at. He’s become a better shooter, he’s become more disciplined with the ball, but he can guard people. He can guard and rebound on the one end and pass and score on the other end. I don’t know anyone that I’ve had that can do that as thoroughly as he does it.”

Not so say that Hield isn’t versatile. You don’t get into the conversation for Player of the Year by being a one-trick pony. But Valentine makes much more of an impact on his team. Hield has had a steady, outstanding point guard in the backcourt with him all year in Isaiah Cousins. That stability has meant that Hield hasn’t been shuffled through the lineup and put in unfamiliar positions. The fact that Valentine’s performance has not dropped since being moved around is unbelievable.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a pure scorer, Buddy is your guy. If you are looking for a facilitator of the offense, Denzel is your guy. If you are looking for the most well-rounded player in America, well that just might be Denzel too.

What do you think?

Originally Posted: http://impact89fm.org/sports/denzel-vs-buddy/

Stingy Defense Stifles Spartans

Revenge was on the minds of every single Spartan in the Breslin Center on Thursday night, especially the ones on the hardwood. Wisconsin (16-10, 8-5) dealt Michigan State (22-5, 9-5) a crushing blow in Madison in January, edging the Spartans by one point on a last-second layup.

Thanks in large part to Player of the Year candidate Denzel Valentine and his all-around brilliance, MSU got their revenge. The Badgers limped out of the Breslin Center after losing 69-57.

“That was a big win against a very good team and they’re playing so much better than the first time we played them if you ask me,” said Coach Izzo.

Wisconsin star Nigel Hayes had a tough night. Tough might be an understatement. He had an awful night.

Freshman Deyonta Davis was tasked with guarding the preseason All-American and did a flawless job. Hayes hit just one of seven shots in the first half, with that lone jumper coming over Valentine, not Davis. You know it’s bad when the home crowd cheers when an opposing player comes back into the game, and that’s exactly what they did to Hayes.

The Badgers’ offense was futile in the first half, opening the game shooting 3-18. A nine point lead quickly opened up for MSU in the early minutes and eventually grew to 16 before the half was done. Valentine scored or assisted on the first 23 Spartan points, an unprecedented streak.

Valentine makes a sportswriter’s job easy. Just write that he nearly reached a triple-double every time and it’s right most nights. The senior finished with 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Buddy Hield should be on high alert.

Ethan Happ was the lone bright spot for the Badgers. The redshirt freshman led the team with 18 points. Junior guard Bronson Koenig chipped in with 12 and four assists. Hayes’ brutal night mercifully ended after a 1-13 performance.

Junior forward Gavin Schilling had one of his best games of the season after being quiet as of late. He nabbed five boards to go along with six points, three assists and three steals.

“He’s been working hard over this last month,” said Valentine, “and he’s been in the gym with Coach Garland working on his post moves, watching extra film. He’s getting what he deserves right now, he’s playing better, he’s working harder, he’s listening.”

Not to be overshadowed is the shooting performance of senior guard Bryn Forbes. He drained four from deep to finish with 17 points and four rebounds. The Sexton Connection of Valentine and Forbes had as many threes (six) as the entire Wisconsin team.

Davis led all Spartans in rebounding with nine on the night. The freshman saw 29 minutes of action, 11 more than his average due to the absence of Kenny Goins. It was one of the most impressive all-around performances of Davis’ young career, but Valentine expects more.

“We just kept in his head that he can impact the game more,” said Valentine. “We feel like he’s impacting it only to a certain extent, but what he did today, he can do that every night. He just has to make it important to him. Draymond (Green) was here Monday and he was talking to him about that too that he can impact the game better if he comes out and plays hard. That’s it, that’s all he has to do is play hard.”

With the win, Sparty moves into a four-way tie for fourth in the Big Ten with Purdue, Michigan and Ohio State, two games back of first place. Maryland’s shocking loss to Minnesota offered a glimmer of hope to MSU.

“That Nebraska game was really key,” said Valentine of the loss earlier this season, “giving up that game to Purdue, Wisconsin the first time. If we would’ve won one of those we’d be one down playing for the Big Ten. But you never know what can happen in these next few games, I mean three, four and five lost last night.”

Up next for MSU is a trip to Columbus on Tuesday for a matchup with the “Jekyll and Hyde” Buckeyes, as Coach Izzo described them. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN.

Originally Posted: http://impact89fm.org/sports/stingy-defense-stifles-badgers/

Valentine Sweet on Valentine’s Day

Not even the high-octane Indiana offense could spoil Valentine’s Day for Michigan State. Their 88-69 victory was their second in a row on the holiday, and the second in a row that Denzel Valentine shined. His timely baskets and adept passing fueled the win, even if he didn’t have to hit a game-winner.

“Gary Harris said it best, he said ‘Coach you gotta schedule more games on Valentine’s Day for Valentine,” said Coach Izzo after the game.

However, it wasn’t all roses for the Spartans. Indiana opened up a 10-point lead on the Spartans midway through the first half. Even the brief return of guard Tum Tum Nairn, who had missed the previous seven games with plantar fasciitis, wasn’t enough to inspire Sparty at that point. The big key for MSU in the huddle, according to Valentine, was to relax.

“I just kinda calmed down, calmed the team down, and we just stuck to our principles, came out and played how we play,” said Valentine.

To dampen the mood even more, walk-on forward Kenny Goins went down with an apparent meniscus injury and did not return the rest of the way. Goins has been the biggest surprise of this MSU squad thus far, providing solid rebounding and defense on the back end of the rotation. Marvin Clark Jr. was called into action to fill the void. Making matters worse, Gavin Schilling picked up two fouls in eight minutes.

But the Spartans’ not-so-secret weapon couldn’t possibly let his Spartans lose on his day. Valentine led an MSU rally at the end of the first half, shutting out the Hoosiers for the final 3:56 of the frame. Sparty clung to a slim 41-40 lead at halftime.

To say Indiana got knocked back on its heels to start the second half is an understatement. The Spartans busted the game wide open with a 16-2 run, capped off by a Valentine three from the top of the key.

IU could not get anything going on offense the entire second half. The Big Ten’s best scoring offense was held to a paltry 32.3 percent shooting in the period. The Spartan defense clamped down on one of the most lethal scoring threats in the nation, Yogi Ferrell.

The guard was hounded the entire game, finishing with only nine points on 3-10 shooting. Ferrell normally keeps defenses up at night, but MSU will sleep quite well after shutting him down, thanks in large part to the performance of Eron Harris.

“He did the best job I’ve seen out of him in the Big Ten so far,” said Valentine. “He was really aggressive, stayed disciplined and played really tough defense on (Ferrell).”

Valentine will get all the glory from this win, and deservedly so. His 30 points, five boards and career-high 13 dimes is nothing to scoff at. But senior Matt Costello was a spark plug in the paint.

He went off for a career-high 22 points and added 11 rebounds, missing only two shots along the way. The forward has been extending his range as of late, taking (and making) the occasional three-pointer. With Goins going down and Schilling plagued with foul trouble, the Spartans leaned on Costello. And he delivered.

Former Wolverine Max Bielfeldt fueled most of that first half run and had one of his best games of the season. The senior finished with a team-high 15 points and 10 boards, and played a phenomenal inside-out game.

One area Valentine improved drastically in was his assist-to-turnover ratio. He dished out 13 helpers and only gave up the ball once. Not only does that look good on the stat sheet, but it pays dividends on the court.

“There’s games where I have five, six turnovers and five, six assists,” said Valentine. “My assist to turnover ratio was the best and that led to good shots, more possessions, more shots for people.”

Injuries

Michigan State got a big piece of their rotation back when Nairn returned to action. After seven games off, it was understandable that Coach Izzo only played him two minutes. But even two minutes is encouraging progress. With Nairn sidelined, MSU is without a true point guard on the floor. Even though he is not a scorer, Nairn directs the offense and runs the break better than anyone.

“He hadn’t even practiced really,” said Izzo, “half a practice in a month. He probably won’t practice tomorrow or the next day, very little. We’re hoping it’ll be back to how it was in December, painful, won’t practice as much, but can still play. If we can get something out of him, 10 minutes a game, he’s willing to do that for us.”

On a sour note, sophomore forward Goins is in jeopardy of missing the rest of the season. According to Coach Izzo, he injured his meniscus during the first half. Goins is averaging 2.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game off the bench, but his impact transcends the stat sheet. Clark will be tasked with filling in for the duration, after barely playing all season.

“I heard that they’re a little worried about his meniscus,” said Izzo. “It’s a shame because he has been playing good. I go a week and a half without an injury, that’s probably not normal.”

Big Ten race

With the win, the Spartans improve to 8-5 in conference play, two and a half games behind Iowa for first place. With only five games remaining, MSU would need a considerable amount of help at the top for any chance at the regular season title.

For Indiana, the loss drops them to 10-3, only a half game back of first. Losing this game bruised their chances of taking over first after defeating Iowa Thursday night. But the Hoosiers are still within striking distance.

Next up

The Spartans will suit up Thursday night for a home contest with Wisconsin. MSU fell short earlier this year in Madison 77-76. After a rocky start to the season that included losses to Western Illinois and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Badgers have righted the ship, winning their last seven games. Wisconsin even knocked off Maryland in College Park on Saturday, who was nursing a 27-game home winning streak.

Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN.

Originally posted: http://impact89fm.org/sports/valentine-sweet-on-valentines-day/