Friday, November 27, 2020

MSU men's basketball finds new floor general; Joshua Langford ready to play

October 27, 2020
<p>Joshua Langford (1) watches his teammates on the court during the game against Michigan on March 9, 2019, at the Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines, 75-63.</p>

Joshua Langford (1) watches his teammates on the court during the game against Michigan on March 9, 2019, at the Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines, 75-63.

Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

Just hours before my co-reporter Jayna Bardahl and I were set to depart to Indianapolis, the widespread cancellations of sports due to COVID-19 reached the Big Ten, as its men’s basketball tournament was canceled. 

The ensuing months were, as a friend of mine put it, “lost in time,” as I shut my mind off from any current events and any happenings at all. I had invested such a hope of covering the tournament and the NCAA tournament to follow. Since I often recount years by the sports landmarks that define them, I shared the enthusiasm of Michigan State basketball’s captains, junior guard Foster Loyer and senior guard Joshua Langford when they addressed reporters for the first time this season.

It’s good to be back. It was good to hear of Loyer’s resolve in competing for playing time after his longtime backup of Cassius Winston, and it was refreshing to greet Langford’s optimism as he appears to finally be full-go.

As Langford said, ”I'm just thankful that I can get tired again on the court.”

Whether it serves as an escape for the casual fan or as a fully legitimate season for the die-hard one, college football airs on Saturdays again, and college basketball fans eagerly await the season’s Nov. 25 start.

Who will replace Cassius Winston as floor general

After dismissing any hint that he considered transferring over the offseason, Loyer is now in contention for a starting role. To media on Monday, he outlined a possibility that proponents of sophomore guard Rocket Watts starting at the point may have dismissed. 

“Me and him are both very competitive people,” Loyer said. “... I think the look of me at point guard and Rocket (Watts) at the two helps us both out. Whoever grabs the ball can bring it up to court. The other one run the lane. I think that offers us a lot of shooting and a lot of play-making on the court.”

Gabe Brown makes strides in the offseason

When asked who had shown the most improvement over the offseason, fifth-year senior Langford pointed to a common name whenever offseason work is discussed.

“I think one guy that's really been doing well is Gabe Brown,” Langford said. “He's been as consistent as can be in terms of his defense, his shooting.”

Brown looks to compete for a starting spot after serving as an important man off the bench last season.

Preparing through uncertainty

Reports on Monday pointed to the cancellation of several bubble-like early season NCAA tournaments such as the Champions Classic and Orlando Invitational. Whether those events take place elsewhere is unknown, but regardless adds to the uncertainty the Spartans face as the start of their season nears.

As Loyer stepped up to the camera for the new-look presser for the first time this season, he addressed the strange nature of this upcoming campaign.

“I think this whole thing has been kind of weird,” Loyer said. “I'm sure you guys can appreciate that. I mean, I'm looking at you guys through a Zoom call. Just for us, I think it comes down to trying to prepare to make ourselves the best team that we can be.”

Josh Langford full-go

After missing most of his junior season and the entirety of his senior season last year, Langford appears to be nearing game readiness. Those who are familiar with Langford’s tenure will pump the brakes, even as videos surfaced of the guard jumping off his previously injured foot for a dunk. In describing the road to this point, Langford uttered a fitting mantra that applies to himself and the sports world. 

“I think the biggest thing I've learned is just trusting the process,” Langford said. “... Trusting the process and realizing that everybody has their own journey, and how you own that journey determines how well you are successful in the thing that you're doing. … The biggest life lesson that I can take outside of basketball is realizing that everything takes time.”

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