- Goran Suton’s knee is “a concern”; Lucas’s ankle should be good to go.
- Tom Izzo on the two new guys (video). Big men who “want to play.”
- Kalin Lucas is not a preseason Bob Cousy nominee. Outrage! Trevon Hughes is the Big Ten’s representative.
- Big surprise: Wisconsin signs a big man who can shoot the 3 and a versatile combo guard.
- Bonus football link:Interesting fan post on Rivalry, Esq. looking back at MSU offensive skill players’ recruiting rankings. Still working mainly with 3-star guys.
The Expectations Game
I think it’s fair to say that, going into this season, expectations for MSU basketball are as high as they’ve been in half a dozen years. And for good reason: The roster of players Izzo has to work with this year is as talented, versatile, and deep as any he’s had since the national championship season. Here’s one way to look at it: Listed below is the player playing the 9th most minutes/game (and their class year) in each of the last 9 seasons:
- 1999-2000: David Thomas (RS junior)
- 2000-01: Adam Ballinger (RS sophomore)
- 2001-02: Tim Bograkos (RS freshman)
- 2002-03: Tim Bograkos (RS sophomore)
- 2003-04: Matt Trannon (freshman)
- 2004-05: Delco Rowley (RS sophomore)
- 2005-06: Drew Naymick (RS sophomore)
- 2006-07: Idong Ibok (RS sophomore)
- 2007-08: Durrell Summers (freshman)
At this point, I’d forecast Korie Lucious or Marquise Gray to be the 9th man in MSU’s playing rotation this season. Both those players can reasonably be expected to contribute more on the court than any of the players on this list below David Thomas.
So the parts are all there. The question is just how good a team they add up to. More specifically, what’s a reasonable expectation for this team’s overall record? Here’s my (admittedly unscientific) take:
- There are six nonconference games that should be comfortable wins (Idaho/IPFW/Bradley/Alcorn St/Citadel/Oakland). That leaves six games against BCS-level competition (three in the Old Spice Classic). With Delvon Roe slowly getting up to full speed and the team adjusting to a more up-tempo style, I think 9-3 would be a reasonable outcome. If they made the Old Spice Classic final, lost to UNC, and split with Texas/Kansas, they’d hit that mark.
- In conference play, this team should be good enough to hold court against the entire league for a 9-0 home record. Road games against Purdue and Ohio State lean toward losses. Thankfully, we don’t play in Madison this season. Toss in one more road loss against the middle of the league (Minnesota/Illinois/Penn State/Michigan) and you get a conference record of 15-3.
- MSU should be favored to at least make the Big Ten Tournament final. Let’s say 2-1, given that the regular season conference forecast is on the optimistic side.
- A Sweet Sixteen appearance is be expected. A Final Four appearance is certainly possible. Split the difference and you’ve got a 3-1 record in the Big Dance.
Add all that up and you get to 29-8. If they could achieve this scenario, I think we’d be pretty content. The key, though, would be hitting that 15-3 Big Ten mark, which would presumably get us at least a share of the regular season conference title. That seven-year conference title drought continues to weigh on the program.
At the same time, getting to a Final Four being held in our home state to keep Tom Izzo’s every-four-year-player-has-been-to-a-Final-Four streak alive would be happiness inducing, as well.
Coffee Talk: What’s the highest priority this season? Winning the conference? Or making the fifth Final Four appearance of the Izzo era? (I’ve laid these choices with two stark scenarios out in a poll below.) Are the expectations I’ve laid out above in terms of W-L record too high, too low, or juuuuust right?