Michigan State won comfortably Tuesday night against Youngstown State. That in and of itself may not sound like much, but given the team’s youth and health issues it’s a big step in the right direction.
Heck, a 20-point win is nice no matter how you slice it. Let’s not get too greedy, folks.
1. Eron Harris: Streaky...Good?
The Spartans have leaned on Harris for scoring early and often this season, with mixed results. The senior has had huge games, like his game-saving 31-point performance against Florida Gulf Coast, and completely disappeared, like in his 3-point clunker against Baylor.
Tonight was a pretty spot on encapsulation of Harris as a player. His stat line was solid all around — 13 pts, 7 rebs, 2 blocks, 1 assist and a steal — but dig deeper and you’ll find the one huge flaw — 1-for-7 from deep. Everyone has off nights, and Harris IS hitting 42% of his 3’s this year, but games like this will cripple Michigan State against better competition. Harris is a volume scorer and needs to take those shots with Bridges out, but the sooner he can get some help, the better.
2. Matt McQuaid Is Not Shy Anymore
Everyone knows McQuaid can shoot but oftentimes in this early season he has been hesitant. Blame it on the double hernia surgery he had in the offseason — which by the way, VALID — but he hasn’t had the launch-from-the-locker-room gusto he had a year ago. That changed tonight, albeit in only 3-for-8 fashion. 8 is the important number, though.
At his most effective, McQuaid will be a killer confident 3-point threat off the bench and in order to be that he has to at least shoot the shots and create that space for the other guards. Even though it wasn’t his best outing it was nice to see him shoot confidently. That confidence will take MSU a long ways.
3. The Freshmen Are Rounding Into Form
Obviously, this does not include Miles Bridges, but everyone has seen enough to know he is ahead of the curve. The development of this team hinges on the other three new faces: Cassius Winston, Josh Langford and Nick Ward. This game showed why MSU fans have so much to be excited about.
Langford, who is still working his way into shape after being hobbled by a hamstring injury, put up a solid stat line (15 pts, 3 rebs and 2 assists) and did so shooting an efficient 6-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-4 from deep. Ward (13 pts, 8 rebs, 2 steals, 6-for-10 from the field) perhaps the most surprising and, ironically, important member of not only the class but the team, continued to impress as MSU’s sole true big man and Winston (8 pts, 9 assts, 4 rebs) showed he can be effective even on an off-shooting night (0-for-3 from deep, 4-for-10 from the field).
These three are a big reason why Spartan Nation should hold off on panicking for a bit. Add in a semi-efficient Harris, solid-shooting McQuaid and healthy Bridges and this team can make a little noise come conference play.