Per multiple Twitter reports, Brandan Kearney has left the Michigan State basketball team and intends to transfer elsewhere. This is fairly surprising, as Kearney's been getting a consistent 10-20 minutes per game on a pretty good team. Mr. Rexrode's initial take is this:
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most surprised, I'd say I'm a 6 on this. Good role player, defender for MSU but wants larger role.— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) December 28, 2012
That makes some sense in that I've always though Kearney seemed like a player who'd be most effective on offense with the ball in his hands--a scenario unlikely to occur with frequency playing at MSU. His usage rate this season is just 13.7% (20.0% is average).
This is decidedly bad news for the team. Kearney has continued to struggle on offense, posting an effective FG% of 33.8% and a turnover rate of 27.7%, but he represented a very reliable defender who gave the team a solid option as the fifth perimeter player behind Appling/Harris/Trice/Valentine. Tom Izzo will now either have to give Russell Byrd another crack at the rotation or shift Branden Dawson back to playing the 3-spot most of the time, with two true bigs playing together. Four players for three spots is not a sustainable scheme.
Regardless, it's a major hit to the team's depth--and those kinds of hits have portended not very good outcomes for MSU basketball teams in the past.
Going forward, this creates additional impetus to sign a player for the 2013 class. You can't rule out one of the current guards--Gary Harris, in particular--going pro after this season, which would leave the team in a very bad spot next season.
We wish all the best to Mr. Kearney in his future pursuits, but the timing of this is far from ideal from an on-the-court perspective.