While reading up on the latest from Gary Harris I stumbled upon a related story on rivals.com that has really riled me up. The question this article asks is: Can MSU win the Big Ten without Chris Allen? The basic consensus from the experts answering was: Ehhhh, maybe. In fact one of them went so far as to say that losing Allen pushes the Spartans from a top 3 team to a top 15 team.
I'm sorry, but I frankly don't think that Chris Allen is the difference between being a contender and a pretender. Why? Find out my esteemed opinion after the jump.
First off lets look at this from a statistical standpoint. Allen's 2009-10 stats are below:
- 25.5 minutes per game
- 8.2 points per game
- 2.8 rebounds per game
- 2.0 assists per game
- 39.8 3pt FG %
The most pressing issue would be Allen's offensive contributions. Obviously Allen was lights out from the arc and 8.2 points, although not superstar numbers, is nothing to sneeze at. In fact that 8 points is very important, seeing how the Spartans average margin of victory WAS 8 points last year. Couple Allens 8 points with Raymar Morgans 11.3 PPG and you've dug quite the hole. But, obviously then you have to factor in the two things:
A.) There are 3 stellar incoming freshmen in Payne, Appling and Byrdwho will play significant minutes (and one we aren't sure about yet in Gauna). By comparing them to similar players in their freshman years we can estimate that they will easily produce by conservative measures something close to 12-13 points a game(If you want specifics here they are: Appling 5 ppg, Payne 5 ppg and Byrd 3 ppg).
B.) Derrick Nix and/or Garrick Shermanshould develop into a bigger role. These guys are the only true centers we have, and unlike last year where one of them started and was promptly pulled for Draymond Green, expect them to actually stay in the game and contribute. Each averaged around 2 points in about 7 minutes a game. Assuming that each role doubles at the least (which should be easy since with Allen and Morgan gone MSU is missing 52.7 minutes a game) and neither has an increase in productivity, they still will be averaging 4.2 more points a gamecollectively. Add that to the frosh points and the gap is pretty much filled points wise. However it would be incredibly pessimistic and disappointing to think that these two players will only be in for 14 minutes at a time AND their productivity will stay that low. Expect something closer to having one or the other averaging more like 22 minutes and the other 15 a game, with averages around about 12 points collectively. (At this point its hard to foresee who will come out more developed and effective, although my money's on Nix if he continues losing weight.)
So right there you've made up the point total. Of course points aren't all that matters. Allen's 2 assists will be missed, he was fourth on the team in assists, but Appling is an excellent passer and Lucious will be seeing increased time, so that should be made up as well. Really the only thing Allen brings offensively that I cant really see being made up for is his 3 point percentage, which was ridiculously high at basically 40%. But even if no one will shoot that next year, MSU does bring in Byrd who is a 3 point specialist and should easily average in the 35-37 range. Add on the fact that Lucas and Summers both averaged 35%and that Lucious, who was also considered a 3 point shooter during recruitment, had an off year shooting wise at nearly 32% and will probably even out around the 34% range next year, and you still have plenty of effectiveness around the arc.
So, lets move on to Defense. Allen was almost definitely the Spartans most effective perimeter defender last year. But its not going to be missed as much as you might think dear reader. Undoubtedly, Travis Walton'sbiggest contribution in his four years was his defensive prowess. Yet after his departure the 3 point percentage of Spartan opponents only increased by 2%. Yes that two points can hurt, but don't expect a similar jump now that Allen is gone. For one thing, Allen is nowhere near the impact player on defense that Walton was. At the most expect maybe a 1% jump. And remember, Izzo isn't going to let his team not play defense. They will pick up the slack. And its not like Allen was forcing many turnovers either by the way, he averaged 0.4 steals per game. Defensive verdict? MSU will miss his defense, but should easily be able to recover.
Now onto Intangibles. The guy was kicked off the team. He was a rising senior who was a significant piece on two final four teams and was kicked off the team. Logic dictates that his dismissal is an immediate plus in terms of team chemistry. Izzo talked about him not being as good a teammate as expected. We can only speculate what that means, but this much is for sure: Allen's absence should be one less distraction on a team that was full of mental issues last year. Another thing to look at is that Allen was experienced in Izzo's system as well as Big Ten play. That experience will be missed, but its not like the incoming players wont be able to figure Izzos system out.
So, looking at the big picture does Allen's departure hurt State THAT much? No. It stings, its a shame and he was a good player, but losing Allen doesn't take away MSU's FinalFour expectations. Especially because in his tourney history, the only game I can think of where Allen was a significant factor was in his freshman year, in the Sweet 16 against Memphis when the game was lost in the first 5 minutes. His NCAA career PPG was 5.7, and his 2010 tourney average was 2.8 ppg (although granted he was injured).
Another thing that the Rivals article said was that without Allen the Spartans wont be able to top Purdue. Purdue is already a loaded team, that's for sure. But their recruiting class is no where near as impactful (or just plain good overall) as States. On top of that, you want to talk about losing a defender? Purdue lost Chris Kramer. Kramer was a huge glue guy for that team who did a little bit of everything. Without him Purdue loses a leader and its prime defender. On top of that Purdue lost Keaton Grant as well. The loss of them is comparable to that of Allen and Morgan, but the key difference is that Purdue didn't and doesn't have the depth to replace them as easily as MSU does. In fact speaking of depth, that may be the biggest hole Allen created: less depth on a very deep roster (remember this is the team that can win tourney games while throwing out walk-ons).
So, in conclusionafter a very long article (which I hope the Only Colors community has enough attention span to read through) losing Allen hurts. But it does not and should not knock the Spartans out of a preseason top 5 ranking. The competition in the Big Ten was always going to be rough with Purdue and OSU this year both also being top 5 teams. But MSU still has just as good a chance as they do to win the Big Ten, and a Final Four should still be expected.