Monday, April 1, 2013

Future uncertain for Michigan State after "disappointing" 2012-13 season


This was an interesting season for the Michigan State basketball team.
There were times where it looked like the Spartans weren’t going to amount to much, then there were times where it looked like MSU might be a national contender.
By standards of most programs, Michigan State had a good season, maybe even a successful one. The Spartans finished second in the most difficult conference, the Big Ten, and reached its fifth Sweet 16 in six years.
But, those aren’t accomplishments worth applauding thanks to the standards of Tom Izzo.
The Spartans didn’t claim any championship this year and didn’t reach a Final Four. Those are the standards Izzo has created for the program through the years.
Michigan State was capable of beating Duke in the Sweet 16, but it didn’t get the job done.
Adding to the sting of the end of the season for Spartan fans is seeing Michigan reach the Final Four for the first time since 1993.
Like it or not, Michigan has made a lot of progress in the in-state rivalry the past few years and the Wolverines have a potential to win the national title, which would give John Beilein as many titles as Izzo.
That’s not to say Beilein is a better coach, but there has to be some concern within the MSU program about where things are heading.
The Spartans could be very good next year if the team stays intact. However, it is not certain that that will be the case.
Derrick Nix is the lone senior and his departure will be felt. He provided strength in the paint and had developed into a nice offensive option this season with his scoring and passing.
The Spartans may get more athletic in the paint next season, but I don’t know that they will have the interior passing presence like they had in Nix this season and Draymond Green prior to that.
ESPN’s NBA Draft guru, Chad Ford, has two Spartans listed as potential first round picks if they elect to leave early.
Freshman guard Gary Harris is currently listed as the 10th best prospect in this year’s draft. Ford believes Harris is a lock to be a lottery pick if he elects to leave MSU.
Junior forward Adreian Payne is listed as the 40th-best prospect for the draft by Ford. Payne’s athleticism and size, along with his ability to shoot from the outside, make him an interesting option for NBA teams. Though unpolished, Payne has plenty of upside.
Due to a recruiting class for 2013 that currently features just one player, three-star center Gavin Schilling, Michigan State can’t really afford to see Harris or Payne leave. Harris will likely develop into MSU’s top scoring option for next season and Payne is crucial to keep on the roster with Nix already gone.
If MSU can keep Payne and Harris around, we might be talking about another Final Four run for the Spartans at this time next year. If not, there may be more disappointment to come.

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