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MSU Green-White Basketball Scrimmage Recap


Yay, basketball!  A sport that doesn't make us think about sharp objects!


The lineup format for the scrimmage was first team (Green) vs. second team (White).  The starting lineup for the Green team--and, therefore, the presumed opening game lineup at this point--was Lucas/Allen/Morgan/Roe/Herzog.  In the second half, though, Summers took Allen's spot and Green took Roe's, indicating that Izzo is basically thinking of seven players as starter quality.

These things always end up being offensive showcases (although the defensive intensity was a notch up from the Midnight Madness scrimmage a week ago).  Hence 149 points scored in a 40-minute game involving quite a few players who don't normally score much outside of layup lines.  It doesn't look like MSU is going to post a full box score, which is fine since the stats won't tell us much anyway.  Chris Allen (22), Kalin Lucas (19), and Isaiah Dahlman (18) were your leading scorers; more on them below.

One stat we do have that's encouraging is the 44.8% combined 3-point shooting percentage put up between the two teams.  With Allen, Lucious, and Summers sucking up Travis Walton's minutes this year, the team will likely take substantially more shots from beyond the arc.  Knocking down 3-point looks consistently will, therefore, be a bigger key to success this season.

Defensively, there wasn't much to write home about.  At halftime, Tom Izzo took questions from the crowd.  One of the questions was something like, "Who's your best defensive player right now?"  To which Izzo replied, "We don't have one yet."  Truth be told, I think the answer is going to be Delvon Roe.  Now that he's close to 100% healthwise, he showed a knack for jumping into passing lanes and making steals.  Combine that with his defensive rebounding prowess and the surprisingly good blocked-shot rate he put up last season, and he could well contend for a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.

Also of note: The team did play some 2-3 zone in the second half, so maybe Izzo is serious is about using it more this year in order to mask the inexperience among the post defenders.

Player-by-player impressions:

  • Kalin Lucas: As quick as ever.  3-point release looks a little more fluid.
  • Korie Lucious: I was surprised when he took the court to participate in the scrimmage, given that he's been cleared to practice for less than two weeks.  But, after that initial surprise, I didn't think about his foot injury again, as he looked completely natural running the point for the White team.  Very good news.
  • Chris Allen: Looked very confident shooting the ball and making moves going toward the basket.  None of the hesitation that plagued him for a long stretch of last season.  Can he maintain that over 30+ games?
  • Durrell Summers: Man, can he jump.  At one point, someone threw a high pass to him in the corner of the court we were sitting adjacent to (in the lower student section).  It looked like he was taking off to fly when he went up for the ball, which he retrieved.
  • Raymar Morgan: I'm not sure his game is really suited to these sorts of scrimmages, which is fine.  Jumpshot looks improved, although still a bit line-drivish.  Took and made at least one 3-pointer without hesitating.
  • Draymond Green: Has slimmed down even more.  Took the ball to the hoop without fear, with mixed results.  A couple fabulous interior no-look passes.  Took a rare preseason-intrasquad-scrimmage charge.  Ran the fast break after grabbing a defensive rebound several times.  A commenter mentioned him as a point guard possibility if Lucious were to miss any time; I don't think that's out of the realm of possibilities.  With the graduation of Goran Suton (who was at the scrimmage), Green is now officially my favorite Spartan.
  • Delvon Roe: See above regarding his defense.  Free throw shooting was fine; no problems on those front-enders.  Looks to have improved his mid-range shooting ability, as well.
  • Tom Herzog: Much more assertive on both ends of court, with a couple strong dunks off passes.  Still a few awkward moments, though.  Noticed in pregame warm-ups he's got really nice touch on his 15-foot jumpshot; soft release with nice rotation on the ball.
  • Derrick Nix: Even with the weight he's lost, he's still a load.  "Laboring" is the word that comes to mind watching him get up and down the court.  But when he gets the ball near the basket, he can't be stopped.
  • Garrick Sherman: Looked, dare I say it, somewhat Sutonesque.  Good nose for finding the ball on the boards; knack for finding ways to score or get fouled down low.  Seemed to fade a bit as the scrimmage went on, though.  Also, not quite as big as I was thinking he was.
  • Isaiah Dahlman: Even before he scored his points, I thought his outside shot looked improved; quicker release, good rotation on the ball.  Looking to take a leadership role as a senior, directing teammates throughout the game.  Could he contribute a few big shots/plays in his final season as a Spartan?
  • Austin Thornton: Didn't have much impact on the game.  Not buying the he's-a-power-forward-now idea.  Best shot at regular PT is as a Tim-Bograkos-like defensive spark plug.  Might be room for one of those with Walton gone.
  • Mike Kebler: He can dunk!  In warm-ups, at least.  Might be more athletic than I had realized and a real option to play a few minutes at PG in a pinch.
  • Jon Crandell and Anthony Ianni: Thank you for your willingness to play hard in practice, gentlemen.

Overall, the positive takeaway is that Herzog and the two freshmen showed quite a bit of poise and the ability to make varying contributions.  My guess is that their respective shares of the playing time down low will fluctuate over the course of the season, depending on match-ups, as none of them look to have the complete package at this point.  Herzog against teams with real low-post scoring threats.  Sherman against smaller opponents.  Nix in short stretches of 2-3 minutes to wear opposing big men down.  None of the three when Izzo decides to unleash what will quite possibly be the fastest, most-athletic 1-through-5 lineup in the country with Green/Roe at the 4/5 spots.

Finally, a few amateur photos with super witty captions for your enjoyment:


Korie Lucious trying to bring back the Steve Urkel look.


Raymar Morgan's jumpshot: Now with bonus range!


Sherman thinking, "Let's impress those TOC guys with a stand-out Free Throw Rate today."


"It's just a scrimmage.  Don't hurt anyone."


Best basketball player tattoo ever?


Remember this guy?


I'm open!  And I can shoot now!


50 pounds later, still plenty of weight to throw around.


Nameless guard goes strong to the hoop.


Oops.  Wrong photo album.  Stay away from sharp objects.