Korie Lucious Dismissed for Season. What Now?

Official statement:

Michigan State men's basketball head coach Tom Izzo announced that junior guard Korie Lucious has been dismissed from the team for the remainder of the season.

Tom Izzo Statement
"Unfortunately, Korie Lucious displayed conduct detrimental to the program. My focus is on this team for the remainder of the season."

Korie Lucious Statement
"I didn't live up to the standards of the program. Unfortunately, I let my teammates, my coaches, and myself down, and wish them the best for the rest of the season."

--- Michigan State University and the Spartan basketball program will have no further comment on this issue.

Setting aside the obvious frustration this creates in terms of ongoing off-the-court issues affecting the MSU basketball team, the on-the-court implications are difficult to sort out at this point.  My initial, pre-caffeination thoughts:

  • While Lucious has been a non-factor, if not a liability, in terms of scoring of late (4-22 from 3-point range in Big Ten play), he's actually been a pretty reliable ball-handler of late (5 TOs in the last 4 games).  His dismissal leaves a void at the back-up point guard spot and leaves only three perimeter players on the roster who came into the program as scholarship players.
  • There's a consensus that playing Draymond Green at the 3 spot isn't the best use of his abilities and creates defensive issues.  I'd think Tom Izzo avoids going in that direction if he can.  The other approach would be to move Green permanently to the 3, and let the Nix/Payne/Sherman triumverate fill in Lucious' minutes.  Given that neither approach is a surefire strategy, I lean toward keeping the team's best player at this natural position.  Having him move back and forth between the two spots seems like it could really disrupt the rhythm Green has going on offense at the moment.
  • That means Austin Thornton and Mike Kebler will need to play 15 minutes or so each on a regular basis.  You might as well play them both--maybe one more than the other depending on match-ups--and take advantage of the energy they can bring in shorter spurts.
  • I think Keith Appling has to become the back-up point guard.  It'll be somewhat detrimental to his development as a defender and a scorer, but I don't think Izzo will want to rely on Kebler completely when Kalin Lucas is out of the the game--and, the way things have gone, it's entirely possible Appling ends up being a primary option at point guard (along with Travis Trice) next season following Lucas' graduation.  You might as well start getting him ready now.
  • Added: Forgot to mention, I don't see burning Russell Byrd's redshirt as an option.  As someone commented in the other thread, Byrd's career development shouldn't be disrupted by something someone else on the team did.  And trying to break in a true freshman in the middle of Big Ten season isn't a great scenario anyway.

I suppose if you were going to lose a major contributor, Lucious is the guy you'd pick, given the lack of offensive efficiency he's displayed most of the year.  But this team really had very little margin to work with in terms of depth, and Lucious leaves behind 25 minutes/game that need to be filled.  Given that Green/Lucas/Summers are all playing 31+ minutes/game in conference play, those minutes will have to come from players who aren't sure things themselves from an efficiency standpoint.  As perplexing as Lucious' play has been at times, this development is clearly a negative for MSU's outlook for the remainder of the season, limiting the team's offensive potential.

Per Pete's note in the post he put up late last night, please avoid any speculation on the behind-the-scenes stuff here.  Let's keep the focus on the on-the-court problems this creates.  Plenty to keep us angst-ridden there.

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