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9 random thoughts on MSU basketball before the season tips off

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We dish on the freshmen, Nick Ward, gravy and more

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Detroit Practice Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

I call this part of the year “Gravy Season” because, FOLKS, it is nothing but gravy in November against other marquee teams.

It’s always a bummer to lose, but at this time of the year…who really cares? A loss tomorrow doesn’t knock MSU out of the tournament. It doesn’t set them a game back in the Big Ten. All it means is that MSU gets a really good look at what they need to improve on to get to the elite level they’re accustomed to playing at every season.

But, if they win…oh, you best believe we are pimping out beating the No. 1 team. We might even start the tailgate for Saturday a little earlier off a win.

Either way, we are watching MSU take a loss that won’t do much harm or celebrating a great win. Come join me in having a win-win mindset, gang.

Who is going to be a dawg this year? Who is going to get in their opponents faces, fire up the whole team when the going gets tough and help bring the Spartans back to being a tough-nosed team?

Last year, this team didn’t have that. Hey, obviously a lot of stuff was going on off the court and that could be tough for college kids to overcome. But we can’t have another season of a timid roster just waiting for the guy next to them to make a play or be the voice. And we definitely can’t have another year of teams (*cough* like Michigan *cough*) just flat-out bully you on your own home floor.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most fascinating storylines heading into the season is who are the freshmen that will contribute, and how much? It’s pretty clear Aaron Henry will be a key cog in this machine coming off the bench, but the other four? It doesn’t look like we know.

As bright as Foster Loyer’s offensive presence could be in the future, his defense remains a concern. Marcus Bingham – while talented and MSU’s highest-ranked recruit coming – was thought of as a redshirt for a hot second since his body sticks out (pun absolutely intended) as too skinny on the court. Thomas Kithier and Gabe Brown are raw talents and might not see time against Kansas.

I’m thrilled to see more of Nick Ward, especially after hearing the impact that the whole “should I stay or should I go pro?” process had on him. Cassius Winston has said “he’s hungry” and “going his absolute hardest.” Kenny Goins said he’s more plugged in with the team.

One of his few knocks for making that leap to the NBA was his lack of jump shot too. We’ll see A) If that’s been added to his game, B) If he’ll use it a lot in-game and C) Heck, if he can do it well.

Xavier Tillman may have won the annual “Most Improved Player, Oh And Did I Mention He Lost A Lot Of Weight?” award by Tom Izzo this offseason. All indications point to Kenny Goins getting the start against Kansas, but maybe that changes by Big Ten play. Izzo said he was on the fence about giving Tillman the starting nod, so he is that close.

Tillman was one of the most enjoyable players to watch last year just off hustle alone. This is a guy who has no problem doing the dirty work, and now that it looks like he’s tacking on a jumper (he took two 3-pointers against Northern Michigan without Izzo murdering him) he could be even more of a joy to watch.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan State vs Wisconsin Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

If Winston can sustain last year’s shooting – which is a very tall task – he will be a cheat code. Last year he was pretty much a 50/50/90 shooter and a lot more of the offense will be in his hands with Miles Bridges now murdering rims in the NBA.

You know what else would be pretty neat? Seeing MSU not turn the ball over 700 times per *touches earpiece* alright, 13.1 times per game.

A repeat Big Ten title could run through…Matt McQuaid. There, I said it. And you know what else? I BELIEVE IT.

And sure, if he can be consistent with his shooting that would be nice. More so, I’m talking about his defense. McQuaid is the best defender on this team, and he’ll be tasked with stopping the likes of Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, Indiana’s Romeo Langford and Michigan’s Charles Matthews to name a few.

McQuaid putting the clamps on his guy in those big games could be the difference in raising another banner or not.

Who do you think MSU’s MVP will be by the time the season ends? I think it’ll end up being Cassius Winston — too much of the offense will be in his hands for it not to be him I think.

Poll

Who will be MSU’s MVP at season’s end?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Cassius Winston
    (256 votes)
  • 22%
    Nick Ward
    (100 votes)
  • 4%
    Matt McQuaid
    (19 votes)
  • 12%
    Josh Langford
    (58 votes)
  • 3%
    Other
    (14 votes)
447 votes total Vote Now