True to form for these things, MSU had a few glitches along the way, but pulled away easily to nearly double up a much weaker foe. This was roughly a 71-possession game. The Spartans did push the pace on offense, leading to a combination of athletic finishes and perplexing turnovers, but also held the pace down by forcing long offensive possessions for the Lakers. Grand Valley knocked down a solid 8 of 21 three-point shots to keep their scoreline respectable.
Update: Stats below corrected based on this.
The big takeaway statistically was the outside shooting. Grand Valley packed it in and MSU took full advantage, knocking down of 14 of 24 three-point attempts. Six different Spartans hit a three, led by Keith Appling (5-7), Travis Trice (
3-5 4-6), and Russell Byrd (2-2!!!). Overall 15 MSU players saw the court and 13 scored points, with Colby Wollenman putting the team over the century mark in the final minute. No one played more than 23 minutes.
If there's a concern in the box score it's the lack of dominance on the boards against a smaller team, with MSU leading only 32% to 26% in offensive rebounding percentage. Something for Tom Izzo to harp on in practice for the next week.
In terms of the race to make the rotation, I thought Alex Gauna did the most to help himself. He scored
7 4 points (including a 3-pointer), grabbed 4 rebounds, and dropped a gorgeous dime to Matt Costello. Gavin Schilling had a couple nice finishes late but was quieter overall. Kenny Kaminski obviously didn't help himself with the short-term suspension for academic/team rules issues.
You'd think one of those bigs will end up as the eighth guy in the rotation, with some limited minutes available for either Byrd or Alvin Ellis on the perimeter as the ninth guy. Byrd certainly helped himself, also grabbing 3 rebounds. Ellis looked athletic around the basket but fairly raw with the ball in his hands, turning it over 3 times.
The one part of the program we can judge without discounting for the quality of opposition is the Izzone. And they were at much improved volume levels for this stage of the season. Expect loud, respect loud, indeed.
Next up is the second exhibition game, vs. Indiana University (PA) next Monday. The pace will pick up very quickly after that, with the Kentucky game just two weeks away from today (the regular season opener against McNeese State is in there, too). Off we go.