On Tuesday, October 29th, Michigan State took down Grand Valley State 101-52 in their first exhibition game. When watching the game, three glaring positives and negatives became clear to me. Here they are.
In the entire contest, Michigan State shot 58.3% from beyond the arc, which is absolutely ridiculous. Keith Appling was 5-7, Trice was 3-5 and Russell Byrd (yes, RUSSELL BYRD) was 2-2. The team was moving the ball well, getting open looks from the perimeter, not hesitating and knocking down the shots.
Sometimes, basketball’s just about the little things. It’s not about what’s put up on the board or what’s easily visible, but it’s about little things that make teams run. Out on the floor, I saw Denzel Valentine making great passes, playing like a team leader and working the bench well. When Byrd hit his threes, Izzo said that he went over to him on the bench and said “welcome to Michigan State”, as a confidence booster. Those are the little things that separate really good teams from great teams.
Being that it was simply an exhibition game against a team of poor caliber, I expected it to be a very poor showing at Breslin Center (which would have been acceptable). But it wasn’t. Before tip-off, the crowd– especially the Izzone– was extremely loud. It wasn’t like they went home early, either. Late in the game when Izzo put in all of the backups, the crowd went wild when redshirt junior Keenan Wetzel knocked down a three to increase his career scoring total from four to seven. It was surely a sight to behold, and the Spartan football student section should probably take note.
While the Spartans gave up a modest 52 points all game, the defense was something that looked bad from start to finish. If they were playing a formidable opponent, it would have been ugly. The defensive rotations were really, really bad. Trice and Valentine kept getting caught in pick and rolls, Payne wasn’t really playing perimeter defense and Matt Costello looked flat-out lost down low on defense. The only reason the Spartans gave up only 52 points and surrendered a 30.6% field goal rate was because they were simply more athletic than the Lakers of Grand Valley State.
Free throw shooting
Last season, MSU as a whole shot 71.4% from the free throw line, a pretty bad percentage. It seemed as if their free throw shooting woes were gone when they started the game 8-8 from the stripe, but it was all downhill from there. They finished 19-31 from the free throw line, 61.3%. Since they made the first eight straight, they were 52.2% from the line. It was a shame, as one of the strengths from this game from the team was their ability to get to the line; they just couldn’t turn it into extra points.
Watching the game, it seemed like Michigan State was winning the turnover battle, but at the end, the score sheet showed each team tied at 13. THIRTEEN. That’s a relatively high number, but given that it’s against a team that is not half as good as the Spartans, it’s a frustrating number. MSU had turnover issues last season, and it looks like MSU still needs a few games to feel things out in that department.