On Durrell Summers

Once in a while, I go and peruse MSU's conventional stat sheet to see if there's something I'm overlooking with my nose buried firmly in all those tempo-free numbers. In performing that exercise tonight (yes, this is how I spend my Saturday nights), I was a little surprised to note that Durrell Summers has attempted the second highest number of field goal attempts (behind Kalin Lucas) for MSU this season.  After all, Draymond Green has been MSU's second best offensive player, Chris Allen has been a much more consistent shooter of late, and Raymar Morgan tends to be the guy everyone thinks should be an offensive leader.

With those four guys, I think you basically know what you get at this point: Lucas and Green are about as consistent at what they do as one could ask.  Morgan will show up in flashes, but the idea he's going to put up 15 points per game on a game-by-game basis has to be abandoned at this point in his career.  Allen will hopefully continue his recent run of confident offensive performances.  The odds, meanwhile, that Korie Lucious or Delvon Roe are suddenly going to merge as major playmakers this season are pretty low.  (I don't think we've mentioned the revelation that Roe is having knee problems again, by the way,  Not good.)

If I had to pick one player who represents the key to success in whatever remaining games the 2009-2010 Michigan State basketball season holds, it would be Durrell Summers. 

Summers has scored more than 15 points in 7 games this season but scored fewer than 5 points in 5 other games.  He's also perhaps the one other guy besides Lucas who can get his shot off almost any time he wants, which helps explain the larger-than-you'd-expect number of shots he's taken this season.

He's actually been pretty good as long as he's stayed inside the 3-point arc, shooting .523 on 2-point attempts and.806 from the line.  The major question is whether can somehow regain the outside shooting stroke that allowed him to post a .385 three-point shooting percentage as a sophomore.  To date, he's made a severely disappointing 26.3% of this 3-point attempts.  (I commented in one of the game threads recently that it seems like Summers' shooting percentage doubles if he just steps one foot inside the 3-point line.)

On the defensive end, Summers tends to have the most lapses among MSU's perimeter defenders (setting aside Korie Lucious).  Lucas, Allen, and Morgan have all generally been fairly solid defensively this season--or at least better than they've been in previous seasons.  If Summers can buckle down and avoid mental mistakes on defense, that would go a long way toward MSU playing the kind of cohesive perimeter defense that would seem to be a necessity for a successful March.

During the offeseason, I laid out the following scenarios for Summers this season:

  • Worst case: His junior year is like is sophomore year, with a tad more playing time: spectacular plays at times, inconsistent offensive contributions at others.
  • Best case: He makes a Morris Peterson-like jump from his sophomore to junior seasons.  That four-game scoring explosion is evidence it could happen.  He's got all the tools to be a consistent threat to score 15-20 points per game, grab key offensive rebounds, and become a shut-down defender.

So far, the first bullet has been much more applicable than the second. But there's still time to shift the final conclusion about Summers' junior year.  (One place to start: more aggressiveness on the boards.  After a strong start to conference play on the glass, it's been seven games since Summers last posted more than 4 boards in a game.)

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