Michigan State basketball’s big men will have big shoes to fill in 2014 after the departure of superstar Adreian Payne. Although no one is going to replace Payne, each of these big men bring something different to the table.
Here are the options that Tom Izzo has at center in 2014 and my prediction as to who will be the starter.
As a sophomore last season Costello played 14.7 minutes and scored 4 points per game. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but he also added 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in those limited minutes.
Costello stepped up big time in several games last season when MSU was dealing with it’s rash of injuries. He had his best performance of the year in a crucial game against Iowa in Iowa City. Costello recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds and also added two blocks in that contest.
Costello is definitely the favorite to win the job because of his experience and ability to protect the rim, but his offense will need to take a step forward if he wants to secure the job.
Gavin Schilling had as rough of an introduction to the B1G conference last season as any player I’ve ever seen. He played under 7 minutes per game so the sample size is small, but he looked out of place almost every time he was on the floor.
Schilling’s main problem last season was fouls. Schilling committed 50 personal fouls and scored just 53 points in 2013. Anytime the whistle blew and Schilling was on the court, odds are the foul was on him.
The advantage that Schilling has over Costello in the center position battle is offensive potential. He didn’t show it much last year, but Schilling has a soft touch around the rim and with a year of experience under his belt he could become a productive scorer for the Spartan’s in 2014.
Schilling has to cut down on his fouls if he wants any chance to play significant minutes, but his scoring potential will give him a chance to make an impact.
Alex Gauna’s future with the Michigan State basketball team is uncertain, as Tom Izzo has said publicly that he is currently considering giving up the sport. If he does return to the team in 2014, Gauna would have a tough time earning playing time.
As a junior last season, Gauna played a career high 7.1 minutes per game. Most of which was in mop-up time, and he usually found himself on the court with the walk-ons. Gauna was thought to be a serious contender for playing time in 2013, but he was never able to perform well enough in practice to earn significant minutes.
If Gauna decides to return to the team in 2014, I would expect him to be a role-player off the bench at best.
I believe Matt Costello will be the starting center for Michigan State in 2014. However, I also believe that Gavin Schilling will play a big role on the team as a scoring option in the post off the bench.