Izzone Roundtable: Season Preview

The men’s basketball season officially starts today, and the crew from Impact Izzone is here to get you ready. Blake Froling, Ryan Cole, Davey Segal and David Manion give their predictions on everything from team MVP to how the Spartans will fare in March Madness. Let the speculation begin!

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Impact Izzone: S3 E2

The season is right around the corner, and Blake Froling and Ryan Cole are here to get you ready. The two recap MSU basketball media day and talk about the new renovations coming to the Breslin Center, predict the Big Ten season and Ryan reveals himself as a closet Michigan fan… but not really.

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Impact Izzone: S3 E1

Blake Froling is back for yet another year of Impact Izzone. Our beloved leader, Andrew Hayes, has moved on to a better place, so Froling and three newbies, Ryan Cole, David Manion and Davey Segal, team up to talk about Midnight Madness, the stellar recruiting class and more.

Check out the podcast at Impact Sports here:

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ESPN and CBSSports High on the Spartans’ Future

Last Friday, Michigan State landed coveted 4-star point guard Cassius Winston. His signing catapulted MSU’s 2016 recruiting class straight to the top of the rankings, according to 247Sports. Now it’s time to get more familiar with the University of Detroit Jesuit product.

ESPN’s Reggie Rankin broke down Winston’s game and gave a scout’s view of how he’ll fit into the Tom Izzo system (Insider required to read full article). Rankin said “Winston will provide Izzo with a point guard who can push the ball on the break and can settle things down and execute the halfcourt offense, in addition to being ready to call his own number to score and create when the play breaks down, or at end-of-clock and end-of-game situations.”

Winston will provide the Spartans with a completely different look at point guard. While sophomore Tum Tum Nairn is clearly a pass-first guard, Winston looks to score more. “Winston’s presence will give the offense two primary ball handlers, and two guards who can apply pressure and create turnovers, leading to fast-break opportunities,” said Rankin in the article.

Rankin compared Winston’s game to that of NBA guards Shane Larkin of the Brooklyn Nets and Aaron Brooks of the Chicago Bulls, who both are known more for their scoring. “Izzo has once again done a great job of filling his roster needs with quality young prospects who fit his style of play, and are loaded with talent and potential.”

This glowing review of Winston and MSU’s recruiting class is the latest in a string of positive reports on the future of Spartan basketball. CBSSports’ Gary Parrish ranked Izzo’s squad as the No. 9 ranked school that’s most likely to have success over the next five years. His ranking was based on coaching stability, young players already in the program and the strength of the recruiting classes. He said of Coach Izzo: “The next time Tom Izzo has a bad team will be the first time in roughly 20 years. He’s just about as reliable as they come.”

ARTICLE FROM: http://impact89fm.org/sports/espn-and-cbssports-high-on-the-spartans-future/

Year in Review: Grading the Senior Class

After much contemplation and deep reflection, the grades for the senior class are finally in. Travis Trice andBranden Dawson were the heart and soul of this team. In their four years as Spartans, they went to a Final Four, Elite Eight and two Sweet 16’s. That puts this duo in elite company among all-time best college careers.

Travis Trice – 39 games, 33.6 MPG, 15.3 PPG, 5.1 APG, 39.7% FG

Before the season started, many experts wondered if Trice would be able to step up his offensive game and become a leader with the ball in his hands. After being a role player his entire career, no one was really sure if he would be up to the task. Trice quickly silenced the doubters.

In the first game of the season against Navy, Trice put up a team-high 25 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Yep, he could handle it. Trice went on to score 20+ points in 11 contests, including a season-high 27 against both Nebraska and Purdue.

Not only could he score, Trice could also dish out the ball. He led the team in assists with 5.1 per game, and took care of the ball at the same time. He had a 2.83/1 assist-to-turnover ratio, best on the team and the best of his career.

Trice tried to will his Spartans to greatness in the NCAA Tournament. His scoring increased to 19 ppg and his field goal percentage increased by five points. Although he and the Spartans fell short, their miraculous run to the Final Four will be remembered as one of the most impressive and improbable in school history.

Final grade – A+

Branden Dawson – 35 games, 30.1 MPG, 11.9 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 53.5% FG

Dawson’s career at Michigan State had been plagued by injuries and inconsistency. When he was on, Dawson was the most athletic player on the court and a ferocious rebounder. When he was off, Dawson was merely a footnote in the statline, barely recognizable on the court. This season, Dawson erased all the inconsistency issues.

At 6-foot-6, Dawson was almost always undersized on defense. This was never a problem. His vertical leap was measured in miles, not inches. Dawson banged with the bigs down low and also shut down some of the best guards the Big Ten had to offer, including Penn State’s DJ Newbill.

Perhaps the most impressive change in Dawson’s game was his midrange jumper. A season ago it was cringeworthy at its worst and mediocre at its best. But this season, it was nearly unguardable. The turnaround fadeaway was a thing of beauty that could be used against bigger defenders. Defenses finally had to respect him outside of the paint, which opened up the floor for his teammates.

Although his offensive numbers were down somewhat in the tournament, his impact on defense was unparalleled. He frustrated Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell in the Elite Eight game and rendered him useless for the Cardinals.

Every time Dawson stepped on to the court, you knew there was a chance he would do something spectacular. And every time he threw down a thunderous dunk, it amazed everyone even though they knew how freakishly athletic he was. Dawson will be remembered as one of the best dunkers and athletes the Breslin Center has ever seen.

Final grade – A

ARTICLE FROM: http://impact89fm.org/sports/year-in-review-grading-the-senior-class/

Year in Review: Grading the Junior Class

Two down, two to go. The junior class is up next for grading in this edition of year in review. The freshman class was filled with under-the-radar overachievers, while the sophomore class suffered from a bad case of sophomore slump.

The junior bunch anchored the team through thick and thin. They did not have the star power of the senior class, but as a unit they were the key to the miraculous Final Four run. Three of the team’s top five scorers and two of the top three rebounders came from this class.

Matt Costello – 39 games, 20.4 MPG, 7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 57.9% FG

With the absence of Adreian Payne, Costello was the team’s best big man. Although he only started six games all year, he was clearly better than Gavin Schilling in terms of manning the paint and knowing what was going on around him.

It seemed like in every game the Spartans played in, Costello was surrounded by bigger opposition. But bigger does not always mean better. He developed a very solid low-post game that consisted of baby hooks and wicked spin moves to get around those slow giants.

Costello made a big leap from his sophomore campaign to junior year. He nearly doubled his points and rebounds from a year ago, while only dropping two percent in field goal percentage.

In his sophomore year, Costello looked uncomfortable on offense. He was hesitant to even look at the basket, much less attack it when he got the ball. But this year, he was completely different. The Spartans did not run their offense through him, but he was an able scorer that defenses were forced to respect in the post, which opened up plenty of inside-out scoring.

Costello will be key in the development of the two freshman bigs coming to East Lansing next year. He may not be as important on the scoring side, but his intangible impact is key to the Spartans’ success.

Final grade – A-

Bryn Forbes – 39 games, 26 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 42.7% 3-PT FG

No one expected Forbes to be able to match his stats from his two years at Cleveland State. His role this year was a outside shooting touch that would stretch out defenses. The Spartans never leaned on him for their offensive production.

His field goal and three-point percentages both increased from a year ago and his shaky defense steadily improved. At times in the beginning of the season, he was a liability on defense and that kept him on the bench. But by tournament time that was not a problem.

Forbes had a problem with streaky shooting all year, and his offensive game was almost exclusively outside shots. If he can start to put the ball on the floor more often, defenses will be forced to back off him a bit, opening up that long-range game.

Next year, Forbes will be in almost an identical situation. He will be a role player that can provide a spark off the bench, but not have to carry the offense. In that role, he excels.

Final grade – B

Denzel Valentine – 39 games, 33.2 MPG, 14.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.3 APG

Valentine has caused many a Spartan headaches over the years. His inconsistent shooting and “are you kidding me?” turnovers have befuddled basketball experts who saw his tremendous potential.

This season, Valentine reached that potential. He became a leader on the team and a force on both sides of the ball. He finished second on the team in scoring, rebounding and assists. He was a double-double threat every time he stepped on the hardwood.

His shooting greatly improved from a year ago. Valentine’s field goal percentage and three-point percentages increased four percent from a year ago.

Unfortunately, he also led the team in turnovers, something Coach Izzo harps on every season. They always seemed to come at the absolute worst times in a game and sometimes in the strangest ways. If Valentine wants to go from a great player to an elite player, he needs to be more careful with the ball.

Final grade – A-

Colby Wollenman – 29 games, 7.6 MPG, 1.2 PPG, 1.7 RPG

The pride of Big Horn, Wyoming played a much bigger role on this team than anyone expected him to. Wollenman was the quintessential glue guy. He set solid screens, played above-average defense and was not a liability on the floor.

His crowning achievement came against Purdue, when his pesky and persistent defense completely befuddled the much bigger AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas. He made up for his lack of size with hustle and determination on defense, and helped out the Spartans in ways that did not necessarily make it onto the stat sheet.

Final grade – A

ARTICLE FROM: http://impact89fm.org/sports/year-in-review-grading-the-junior-class/

Year in Review: Grading the Sophomore Class

Last week, I handed out my report card for the freshman class, so now it’s time to move on to the sophomores.

Gavin Schilling and Alvin Ellis III led the disappointing sophomore class this season. Both showed glimpses of promise in their freshman campaigns, but largely failed to live up to expectations.

Gavin Schilling – 39 games, 16.9 MPG, 5.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 58% FG

Schilling has all the intangibles to become a great player. He has a body that’s tough to move in the paint and he’s athletic. Unfortunately, Schilling has not been able to put it all together consistently.

From mid-December to mid-January, it looked like Schilling had finally figured it out.

The big man averaged 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds over an eight-game stretch. He played better defense, he was aggressive and he no longer looked like the deer-in-the-headlights from his freshman year. But then things quickly went south.

Schilling only scored in double digits once in the final 20 games and put up zero in seven of those contests. His defense was perhaps the most glaring issue. He guarded with his hands instead of his feet and constantly picked up fouls. In 12 games this year, Schilling had as many or more fouls than points. On a team already lacking in size, Schilling’s propensity to disappear really hurt.

Final grade – C-

Alvin Ellis III – 32 games, 8.6 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 32% FG

Ellis was poised for a breakout year this season. The departure of Gary Harris left the shooting guard position wide open for the taking. All Ellis needed to do was prove to head coach Tom Izzo during the summer that he was ready to make the next step. He did not.

On several occasions, Coach Izzo said he did not think Ellis was in love with the game. Izzo often talked about how Ellis is good at a lot of things, but not great at anything. That’s why he was largely left behind this year.

Bryn Forbes provided a shooting touch, Travis Trice occasionally moved to the two when Tum Tum Nairn was in the game and Denzel Valentine also could fill in at shooting guard.

Then there was Ellis. He was not a good shooter this season, only hitting 32 percent of his shots. He did not rebound well and he did not get assists. He did not really do much of anything.

From his freshman to sophomore year, Ellis did not make any significant improvements in any area. His shooting percentage went down, his points went down and his rebounds went down. He only played 11 more minutes than he did last year.

Now with the influx of talent coming in at the shooting guard position next year, Ellis will be buried on the depth chart. Don’t be surprised if he starts looking at possibly transferring this summer.

Final grade – D+

ARTICLE FROM: http://impact89fm.org/sports/year-in-review-grading-the-sophomore-class/