Thursday, May 23, 2024

Spartans have talent for 2010 Final Four run

Freshman forward Draymond Green goes up for two against North Carolina freshman Ed Davis on Monday night during the NCAA national championship game at Ford Field in Detroit. MSU lost 89-72.

The MSU men’s basketball team fell one game short of the mountaintop Monday, losing to North Carolina 89-72 in the National Championship at Ford Field.

But don’t despair, Spartans fans, because MSU will be back on college basketball’s biggest stage next season. With a talented nucleus of players set to return, MSU should enter the 2009 campaign as a top-five team in the nation and a foolproof favorite (I’m looking at you, Digger Phelps) to return to the Final Four.

Assuming sophomore guard Kalin Lucas and junior forward Raymar Morgan stick around, here are four reasons the Spartans will be back in Indianapolis next season for the Final Four:

1. Herzog will stand tall

With seniors Goran Suton, Marquise Gray and Idong Ibok out of eligibility, sophomore center Tom Herzog will emerge as a quality big man for the Spartans.

It’s unlikely Herzog will fill Suton’s vacancy in the starting lineup, but he will develop into a quality reserve that can give the Spartans at least 15 minutes per game.

Herzog’s biggest impact will come on the defensive end, where as a true 7-footer with extremely long arms, he possesses the physical attributes to be an elite shot blocker and shot changer. As he continues to add muscle to his wiry frame, his abilities and confidence should only improve.

2. Freshman forwards Draymond Green and Delvon Roe each will develop jumpers

Throughout the season, Green and Roe established themselves as budding stars in the paint, but neither showcased much of an offensive game outside that range.

During the tournament, Green showed he’s a little bit further along than Roe in terms of mastering a mid-range jumper, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. This offseason, Green and Roe will add consistent 15-foot jumpers to their repertoires, making themselves and their teammates much more difficult to defend.

3. Lucas will become more “Walton-esque”

Now that guard Travis Walton’s collegiate career has come to a close, Lucas will step up as MSU’s defensive stopper and vocal leader. Lucas already has established himself as one of MSU’s more outspoken players, but with Walton gone, he will take that commitment to an entirely new level next season.

Additionally, Lucas will continue to refine his pull-up jumper and find what MSU head coach Tom Izzo calls the “happy medium” between being a scorer and facilitator. When he strikes that balance, Lucas will become one of the best — if not the best — point guards in the country.

4. Allen will become a star

Even if he doesn’t make the starting lineup, sophomore guard Chris Allen will become a star for the Spartans next
season. Although his shot was never really on track during this tournament, Allen made huge strides that should give him confidence heading into next season.

Most of those strides came on the defensive end, where he proved he isn’t as much of a liability as he was at some points earlier in his career.

If he proves during the offseason that he’s capable of playing consistent defense for a full 40 minutes, he might steal the starting job away from classmate Durrell Summers. But even if he does come off the bench, look for him to play at least 25 minutes and have a Morris Peterson-type impact for the Spartans.

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