This is the fourth in a series of posts looking at the performance of individual MSU basketball players this past season. Because the end goal is to discuss improvements and/or adjustments that appear to be in order for next season, the series is limited to returning players. Previous entries: Kalin Lucas, Korie Lucious, Chris Allen. Next up: Durrell Summers. (And, yes, I'm on pace to stretch seven posts out over the full seven months of the college basketball offseason.)
Generally, these season-in-review posts are strictly statistical exercises. But for Durrell Summers, I'm going to bend the rules. Youtubeliciousness after the jump:
Those were arguably two of the three most exciting moments of the 2008-09 Spartan basketball campaign (along with Kalin Lucas' "and one" play against Kansas). Mr. Summers is clearly the most dynamic player on the MSU roster in terms of making the spectacular play. But let's step back and look at his overall production this past season:
(Notes: "Conference Regular Season" includes the Kansas game. 2PM/G = 2-pointers made per game, etc.)
There's not a lot there to quibble with--outside of perhaps a slight decline in scoring punch/efficiency as the season progressed--but there's also not that much to get excited about. Summers' numbers were generally solid, but not spectacular over the course of the season.
Comparing his sophomore campaign to his freshman campaign:
- His playing time almost doubled, from 10.9 minutes/game to 21.4 minutes/game.
- But his overall offensive efficiency actually dipped a bit, from 107.9 to 104.3.
- And he asserted himself less, with his usage rate dropping from 23.7 to 20.3.
What the averages hide is a stretch of four games during the conference season (@OSU, @Iowa, PSU, Minn) in which Summers stepped up and carried the team. During those four games, Summers scored a total of 77 points on just 44 FG attempts.
Going into the Ohio State game, MSU was 2-1 in conference play coming off the home loss to Northwestern. Meanwhile, Raymar Morgan's bout with mononucleosis was in its initial stages. Summers almost single-handedly kept MSU in the game during a dismal first half against the Buckeyes, allowing them to mount a second-half comeback and keep themselves in position for what would eventually be a run to the Big Ten title (despite the loss to Penn State two games later, the one game in the four-game stretch Summers struggled in).
Unfortunately, after scoring 20 points in three games during that four-game stretch, Summers went into a prolonged scoring slump, scoring just 50 points in his next 11 games. He emerged to make some key contributions during the NCAA Tournament run, but never exceeded a scoring output of 13 points in a game.
Going into the 2009-10 season, here are the best/worse case scenarios for Summers:
- Worst case: His junior year is like is sophomore year, with a tad more playing time: spectacular plays at times, inconsistent offensive contributions at others.
- Best case: He makes a Morris Peterson-like jump from his sophomore to junior seasons. That four-game scoring explosion is evidence it could happen. He's got all the tools to be a consistent threat to score 15-20 points per game, grab key offensive rebounds, and become a shut-down defender. (My take is that his defense improved some this year, but not as much as Chris Allen's did. Next season, both players need to make bigger improvements, as Travis Walton won't be around to guard top opposing wing scorers.)
Michigan State will probably be all right under the worst case scenario. A team with Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan leading the way is going to be pretty good regardless of what the supporting cast does. But to fulfill the lofty expectations being attached to this team, they're going to need more out of Summers.
In terms of scoring, the key would seem to be 3-point shooting. During that 11-game scoring slump, Summers converted only 4 of 26 three-point attempts (15.4%), as his previously uber-consistent jump-shooting release went missing. (There's always the dunking thing to fall back on, but we all know what happens to the transition game once Big Ten play begins.) Outside of that 11-game stretch, Summers has shot 46.0% from beyond the arc during his two years as a Spartan. That's definitely something to build on.