Which hoops player needs to make the biggest improvement this offseason for the team to achieve the top-5 level most pundits are assigning to them going into next season?
Pete: Tom Herzog. It'd be nice if Garrick Sherman or Derrick Nix could step in early and provide a boost at the post, but the last person to do that was Paul Davis. Herzog's been here for a couple years, and his heart, focus, and determination have never been in question, just the ability of his digestive system to take nutrients and turn them into muscle. If he gains ten pounds of biceps and triceps and makes three or four plays a game like the start of the Wisconsin game last year, State's going to fly.
LVS: The easy answer is Chris Allen, and I'll stick with that. It's true that he improved his game in many ways this past season--especially his ball handling and defense--but we absolutely need him to shoot better if we're going to be successful. Durrell Summers can serve as our assassin in a pinch, but that's really Allen's job, and I expect that Chris will be much better in 2010.
Steve: I think one wing and one big need to make a substantial jump over their 2008-09 levels in order for the Spartans to contend nationally. The best candidates to make the leap are Durrell Summers and Delvon Roe, with Chris Allen and Draymond Green as Plan B at their respective positions. (Ideally, and not unlikely, it’s all four.) I also think Korie Lucious will develop to at least the level of Summers/Allen’s sophomore seasons.
KJ: I think you have to look at the big men as the keys. With the Lucas/Lucious/Allen/Summers/Morgan quintet available to fill the three perimeter spots, the the team should be in good shape, even if one of them is struggling at any given time. As we've previously discussed, though, there's no proven depth up front once you get past Roe and Green. In a perfect world, Pete's scenario for Herzog plays out. Otherwise, I think the answer to the question may actually be a new player, rather than a returning player: Garrick Sherman will need to quickly move from being a solid high school recruit to being a college freshman with enough skill/toughness to give his team 15-20 minutes per game. (So my answer is basically Pete's answer played backward on the turn table.)