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Return of the Spartans

So Kalin Lucas is definitely playing a fourth year in the green and white.  And this excerpt from Joe Rexrode's blog sure makes it sound like Durrell Summers isn't entertaining thoughts of departing early any more:

Once a human being confirms it on the record, I expect to say the same of Durrell Summers.

I think it's safe to start getting excited about next season.

Raymar Morgan is the only player among the top 11 MSU players in minutes played this past season who will not return for the 2010-2011 season.  To get even more precise, 84.7 percent of the 2009-2010 Spartan minutes played will return next season.  Of the 15.3 percent of minutes that are not returning, 13.2 percentage points belonged to Morgan.  The other 2.1 percentage points belonged to Isaiah Dahlman, Tom Herzog, and Jon Crandell.  (I'm assuming Herzog doesn't come back for the moment, just to be a conservative statistician.)

My guess would have been that a returning minutes percentage of 84.7 would represent the high-water mark during the Tom Izzo era.  But it doesn't.  Here are the numbers going as far back as StatSheet can take us:

Season MinRet% Departed Players
1997-98 63.6 Weathers, Garavagila, Polonowski, Mull, Webber, Evans
1998-99 91.4 Wiley, K. Miller, McKenzie
1999-2000 62.6 A. Smith, Klein, Kelley, D. Davis, Guess
2000-01 60.4 Peterson, Granger, Cleaves, Cherry
2001-02 26.3 Bell, Hutson, Richardson, Thomas, Randolph, Chappell, B. Smith
2002-03 82.6 Taylor, Ishbia, Westrick, Alexander
2003-04 71.0 Anagonye, Ballinger, Lorbek, Wolfe, Westrick, Vincent
2004-05 90.2 Andreas, R. Johnson, Ockerman, Cotton
2005-06 58.9 Anderson, Hill, Torbert, Bograkos, Harvey
2006-07 40.5 Brown, Ager, P. Davis, Trannon. Rowley, Hamo, Aerts
2007-08 89.4 Joseph, Ducre, Hannon, Tibaldi, Darnton, Curry, Wardius
2008-09 73.6 Neitzel, Naymick
2009-10 67.9 Walton, Suton, Gray, Ibok
2010-11 84.7 Morgan, Dahlman, Herzog, Crandell

(Technical notes: (1) I counted all players' minutes as returning for the next season unless a player was departing the program for good through graduation/etc.  The first two numbers in the table are arguably overstated due to mid-career redshirts by Thomas Kelley and David Thomas. (2) Just for the heckuvit, I included every player who's played a single minute for MSU in the table.  Five hundred bonus points to anyone who can tell us about Rob McKenzie, who literally played a single minute for MSU.)

The 1999, 2005, and 2008 teams all had higher returning minute percentages than next year's team will have.  Those three teams posted a collective Big Ten record of 42-10 and a collective NCAA Tournament record of 10-3 (with two Final Four appearances).  And those performances were based on returning a high percentage of minutes from teams who weren't elite performers in the previous year.  The 1998 team won the Big Ten title and made it to the Sweet Sixteen, but neither the 2004 nor 2007 teams had advanced past the first weekend of NCAA Tournament play.

Returning nearly 85 percent of your player minutes coming off two straight conference championships and Final Four appearances is, I'm nearly certain, a rare feat in the world of modern Division 1 college basketball.  Add in a top-10 recruiting class, and MSU looks to fare very well in Dan Hanner's model for predicting future success.

As shown below, there's a decent correlation between returning minutes percentage and depth ratio.  But you probably didn't need any fancy numbers to tell you that next year's team is going be crazy deep.  More on that next week.


P.S. Congratulations to the 2009-2010 team for being the first Tom Izzo team with a depth ratio above 3.00 to get past the first weekend of NCAA Tournament play.

P.P.S. Again, 10 of our top 11 players are back next season.  This is exciting.  Like all-caps EXCITING.  If only it weren't nearly seven months in the future.