Just 22 days until Michigan State’s basketball season begins with a matchup against James Madison. For us MSU fans, it can’t get here soon enough. Football season has become unbearable to the point where I am dreading the fact that I will be going to next weekend’s game. But while there are still 3 weeks until that first basketball game, the program is still giving us plenty to be excited about in the meantime.
Just tonight, MSU picked up another win in the recruiting department. Jase Richardson, a 4-star recruit currently ranked #34 by 247, and the son of former MSU player Jason Richardson, announced that he will be coming to play for the Green & White as the third member of the 2024 incoming class. He will be joining a pair of other 4-star players in guard Kur Teng and forward Jesse McCulloch. With the departure after this season of Tyson Walker and, likely, AJ Hoggard, the Spartans will have a need for new depth in their backcourt, so Richardson and Teng could have an opportunity to contribute as freshmen. The commitment from Richardson also represents the first time Tom Izzo has had the son of a former player join the team (I can’t name any previous Izzo players with a son who has gone on to play college basketball).
And speaking of getting excited, this past Friday night marked the annual Midnight Madness event at the Breslin Center where Spartan faithful got to get a first glimpse of this year’s teams (men and women). As is the tradition, Tom Izzo was in costume when he came out, and this year he had new women’s head coach, Robyn Fralick, join him in a “couples costume” as they appeared as Batman and Robin. Fortunately, Izzo did not go with the George Clooney nipple Batsuit; from the picture I saw in The State News, it looks like MSU shelled out $50 at Spirit Halloween for these costumes.
Speaking of Fralick, the Lansing native seems to have created an early buzz around her new team, both for the pedigree she brings as a coach (won the 2017 DII national championship before getting a job with DI Bowling Green for the last five years) and also for the skill level that was on display on Friday night. The women’s team held a scrimmage at Midnight Madness and, even against themselves, there was a noticeable energy and pace to their performance, with much of the action occurring in the transition game or, when it did get into a half-court set, with a great deal of passing and ball movement rather than dribbling and isolation. Last year, MSU’s women missed the tournament but look for them to bounce back this year and be an improved product who could get back to the dance.
Back to the men’s side of Midnight Madness, it should come as no surprise that newcomer Coen Carr won the event’s dunk contest. Fellow freshman Xavier Booker knocked down a pair of triples in the men’s scrimmage. And sophomore big men Carson Cooper and Jaxon Kohler displayed potential improvements in their respective games. If you were still trying to keep your expectations under control for this coming season, just stop. It is championship or bust. The talent, experience, and athleticism are all there, as is the coaching.
In a bit of news from outside the MSU program, but that could have had an effect on it, the NCAA’s review of the 2017 FBI investigation into the University of Kansas, among several other college programs, was concluded last week. While the Jayhawks were slapped with some penalties, all of them are retroactive and they will not lose their postseason eligibility for this coming season. As one of the favorites going into the 2023-24 season, having Kansas ineligible for the tournament would have been a break for every other team. But no way was the NCAA going to keep one of its biggest names out of the tournament. Instead, they were forced to forfeit wins from the 2017-18 season, thus removing their trip to the NCAA Tournament that year from the record books. What that means is that Kansas’s record 33 consecutive trips to the dance is no longer intact and is now officially reduced to 28. North Carolina had previously had a streak of 27, and MSU has an active streak of 25. So that record seems very much in reach now for Tom Izzo and Michigan State. The Spartans could break that if they get to 29 during Jase Richardson’s junior year.