MSU won its second game in a row thanks to very solid all around play and 17 points coming from Bryn Forbes. Denzel Valentine was warming up before the game but did not particpate. He may be ready for the game at Penn State on Sunday but he should almost definitely be playing against Iowa.
- Forbes was the bright spot as he made 7-13 from the floor (3-6 from 3) and it's encouraging that he's creating (somewhat) off the dribble with Valentine out. He and Harris have made strides so far with that and it will allow MSU to be a more dynamic offensive team going forward.
- Speaking of Harris, he has a really solid start and showed an ability to create his own shot or get something in transition. He was quiet on defense which is probably the best compliment for him but it was hard to gauge how good he was as Nunn was out for Illinois. When Valentine returns Harris is likely to go back to the bench but it seems he's more comfortable with the MSU offense and he seems to have mostly found his 3-point shot.
- Matt McQuaid had an excellent game with a career high 10 points to go along with 6 assists. McQuaid has been struggling a bit at point guard but more of that has been bringing up the ball against pressure rather than making mistakes in the halfcourt. He still had above-average passing vision and showed that a couple of times tonight. When Valentine for hurt and I did a +/- analysis on everyone else with and without Valentine on the floor, McQuaid was better than anyone else much better with Valentine on the floor and much worse with him off it. He had his shot going tonight and that aspect of his game will keep him ahead of Ellis in the wing rotation.
- Matt Costello had another solid game with Valentine out but missed 3 shots late as he was hunting for a double-double. He and Harris have made the most strides in the last 4 games and those two have learned to create their own offense in the halfcourt when the team has struggled.
- Ellis had a couple nice offensive rebounds and played well in transition but he's still likely the odd man out when Valentine returns. His shooting has been off and he can't create to the point where he's more valuable than Forbes, Harris, or McQuaid.
- Also, Bess and Clark seemed to have been in the same position as an undersized 4 but Bess has played almost exclusively at the 3 the last couple games. At 6'5" that's going to be a better spot for him but he probably needs to show a bit more ability to shoot. At times when it was just him, Harris, and Nairn in the backcourt Illinois was able to double Costello as the spacing wasn't enough to warrant worry from the second defender.
- As for Marvin Clark it appears he's another guy who might be on the fringe of the rotation in close games. His selling point was his outside shooting but he's been bad from deep this year after his foot injury this summer. Izzo is now going big with Davis, Schilling, and Goins at the 4 rather than Clark and Bess. However, unlike Bess, Clark doesn't appear to have the lateral quickness to keep up with 3's.
- Davis and Schilling were solid and missed just one shot between them while scoring 18 points. MSU's highest ceiling as a team is with a big lineup with Davis or Schilling at the 4 and they've been showing some promise with their ability to stick with smaller 4's.
Next up is Penn State this Sunday where Valentine may finally be ready. Regardless MSU should be fine without him as Penn State isn't a particularly good team.