With the 2020-2021 Michigan State men’s basketball season over, we will take individual looks at how each Spartan performed over the course of the year.
In our ninth edition of the series, we look at Foster Loyer’s likely last season in the program as it was recently announced that he has entered the transfer portal.
Averages per game: 16.6 minutes, 4.2 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.1 blocks, 29.4% fields goal percentage, 32.7% three-point percentage, 88.0% free throw percentage
Foster Loyer started out the year with one of the best performances in his entire MSU career, as he notched 20 points against Eastern Michigan. Starting for Rocket Watts at the point guard spot he connected on six of his 10 three-point attempts and did a good job of getting the team into its offense early. While the scoring proved to be an outlier, Loyer’s development as a point guard was noticeable. He wasn’t as overmatched when he got pressured in the backcourt and overall seemed to find a way to work around his physical shortcomings by passing the ball earlier. His free throw shooting overall was strong, even if it couldn’t live up to the ridiculous numbers he had as a high school player. Loyer operated with a lot of heart, often putting his body on the line and never shying away from physical contact.
Nowhere was that more visible than on the defensive side of the ball. Even though Loyer was undersized in almost any matchup he faced throughout the year, he usually made at least one or two defensive impact plays over the course of the game. Usually these came in form of taking charges, something that Loyer really developed into his own speciality. As a teammate, many players and coaches raved about his leadership, and the team voted him as a captain. It was easy to tell that he was as engaged as anybody else in the workings of the team. Usually he was the first player off the bench to greet teammates during timeouts, offering encouragement and advice wherever needed, and also doing some coaching from the sideline while he was out with a shoulder injury.
There is no way around it, the 16.6 minutes averaged per game were far too many for a player of his caliber (and also tells a lot about the other options at the point guard spot). Loyer shot below 30 percent from the field overall for the year, and on two-pointers he only managed to average a dismal 18.8 percent. This is just not good enough for the Big Ten level let alone MSU’s aspirations. Loyer’s physical limitations were apparent in almost any game of the year and he just could not keep up with even average sized college athletes. It wasn’t even so much his height, Loyer is just not quick, athletic or mobile enough to offset the lack of size against high major competition. His handle wasn’t natural enough either and while he was a fairly good outside shooter, his slow shooting motion usually made it easy for opponents to recover. Whenever he was in the game, the offense became kind of an adventure, even if Loyer had all the principles down. But when your point guard struggles with his handles and with passing over bigger opponents, then that problem rubs off on the entire offense.
Defensively, opponents often immediately attacked Loyer whenever he entered the game (the Wisconsin game was a perfect example of that). It forced Michigan State to shade players to his side or adjust the entire defense altogether, which Tom Izzo usually hates to do. With his physical limitations, it was extremely hard to really find consistent minutes for Loyer, yet the fact that he got as many minutes as he averaged is just a bad look for the entire team. As mentioned above, a shoulder injury unfortunately cut Loyer’s season short. I hate to phrase it this way, but it might have been a blessing in disguise for MSU as the Spartans were able to cut down the rotation and basically went on their late season run when Loyer was out of the lineup.
Foster Loyer did all he could during his years in East Lansing — effort, being a good teammate, leadership and willingness to do the dirty work (like taking charges) were never the issues with his play — but Loyer entering the transfer portal shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Not only was he looking at a fourth point guard role on next year’s team, he also had to come to the realization that the competition in the Big Ten may have been too high for him. It’s sad to see it happen to a great, bright kid (who is getting his undergraduate degree in just three years) like Loyer, yet I’m sure wherever he will go or whatever he chooses to do in life, he will succeed in one way or the other. Best of luck to him and he will forever be part of the Spartan family!
OVERALL SEASON GRADE