Thursday, May 23, 2024

Reporter looks forward to next year's team

Cash Kruth

One of the best things about sports is that there’s always next year (just ask Chicago Cubs fans). And while the MSU men’s basketball team had an unbelievable run to the national championship game, losing 89-72 to North Carolina on Monday night, it’s never too early to look ahead to the future.

Next year’s team will be without seniors Travis Walton, Goran Suton, Idong Ibok and Marquise Gray, but five of the team’s top six scorers should return. With a veteran group including junior forward Raymar Morgan and the sophomore guard trio of Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers and Chris Allen, the Spartans should be a top-five team come next fall.

Here are some extra early questions and answers regarding the 2009-10 men’s basketball season.

Question: First things first. Is Lucas coming back?

Answer: I’m going with an emphatic yes. There’s no doubt Lucas has the skills to play in the NBA, but right now he has a lot of work to do as far as getting stronger and maturing. After his junior season he may be ready, but even then I would lay this on him. He already has 928 career points and 313 assists. As a sophomore, he led his team to the national championship game. Another late tournament run looks very likely next season. He’ll have the individual numbers and the wins. Why not cement your legacy with other great MSU point guards?

Q: What will the starting lineup look like?

A: The locks are Lucas, Morgan and freshman forward Delvon Roe. From there, it’s tough to say, mainly because of the lack of size on the roster. The probable starting lineup will be Lucas at the one, either Summers or Allen at the two, Morgan at the three, freshman forward Draymond Green at the four and Roe at the five. The only negative is that’s small — very small — with a 6-foot-6 power forward and a 6-foot-8 center. Still, the Spartans definitely won’t be lacking at rebounding with ball hawks like Green and Roe. Plus, it’s not like there are a lot of 7-footers in today’s college game.

Q: Who will take over the leadership role vacated by Walton?

A: It’s going to be up to two guys: Lucas and Green. Others may think it’s time for Lucas to step on and be the leader, but to me he’s more of a leader by scoring and what he does on the court. There’s no question he has grown and become more assertive the past two years, but he’s still not fully ready to get in someone’s face the way Walton did. For that type of leadership, look no further than Green, whose basketball IQ as a freshman was more like a senior. During the Midwest Regional final against Louisville, Green and Walton got into a little spat as Green was going to the bench and his intensity was the highest I’d seen out of a player other than Walton. Green will only be a sophomore, but that also was when Walton first took over as team captain.

Q: Who will be the most improved player?

A: I’ve got two. First, freshman guard Korie Lucious had an amazing NCAA Tournament. The broken bone in his foot will set him back eight weeks, but he should have enough time to work his way back and get stronger. Another will be sophomore center Tom Herzog. He received a huge confidence boost after starting against Wisconsin, and it carried over noticeably to practice throughout the season. He’s had a lot of issues during his time at MSU, but if he has a quiet summer he should be able to improve enough to provide a solid eight to 10 minutes a game next year, which, considering the lack of size, would be huge.

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