Three Up OR Down: #1 Michigan State Basketball 16 Games In
Three up or down: the three Parts of the Michigan State basketball that are trending up or down now.
- UP Xavier Tillman Even before the Maryland game I asked Tom Izzo about how far Xavier Tillman has come. He raved about his freshman and admitted that he had earned more playing time. So when he got it against Maryland, he produced. He was a factor defensively and had six points and five rebounds in 12 minutes. There are SEVERAL Big Ten schools that Tillman would be starting at right now, that tells you how good the team is. If you missed it, Tillman had a defensive dive to the floor that made Izzo erupt in joy.
Toughness. Hustle. Family.
— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) January 5, 2018
Izzo said of the emerging freshman star, “I’ve been looking for a guy that likes to dive on the floor and get his elbows bloody and his knees, you know, Antonio (Smith) was here this week, too, so maybe those guys are rubbing off on this team but, you know, he plays with some passion. We’re trying to get him more minutes. He’s been one of the bright spots. I thought that was a big key, and you know, there a was a stretch, believe it or not, when kind of a big shot that the players all said after was Tum’s (Nairn) 3, you know? It kind of got us rolling a little bit more. So that’s what I said, you know, I don’t know what we ended up with but our bench only had two turnovers. Our bench got a bunch of assists, a bunch of points. Our bench did a hell of a job.”
- UP Kenny Goins He missed four games with a minor knee issue but he is back now. He had eight points, five rebounds, two blocks and one assist in the best game of his career. The big part was two monster three-pointers that make the Spartans even better. Izzo said of Goins play, “Well, it is important and tonight we played him at the three some, we played him at the four some when got into foul trouble with Jaren (Jackson Jr.) so we can move him around. We played Miles (Bridges) at the four some. We played him at the three some. We can move him around. We had a lot of interchangeable parts, which I think is going to be good for this team when we face different teams that we’re going to have to play, but you know, Kenny was really shooting it well this summer and then when he got hurt there with the ankle, then he came back. He wasn’t shooting well and I said, you spend more time in here, you can shoot 3s because I chewed him out for shooting a 3 a week ago, and I was glad that he just stuck it in my face, to be honest with you and I enjoyed that.”
- UP Unselfish Spartans One stat proves it. MSU made 32 baskets against Maryland and they had 30 assists. That is simply phenomenal. Don’t believe me? I’ll let Izzo explain, “Our guys were more fired up about that than almost the win, and the other one that is kind of perfect for this team to start the Big Ten season off and that’s 30 assists out of 32 baskets. That kind of tells what kind of team I have, the most unselfish team around.”
When you are a team loaded with McDonalds All Americans like the Spartans and you have the #1 ranking that tells you a lot. But the depth on this team is what MSU leans on for the “Team to Beat” status that they have to win the National Title. Izzo said of the depth, “Well that is what I liked. I haven’t seen our depth, our depth hasn’t scored a lot of points in a lot of these games early and we need McQuaid a lot, but you know when Nick got a little tired and Jaren got in foul trouble getting Kenny in there, getting X (Xavier Tillman) in there. Gavin (Schilling) had a basket and did some good things defensively. As you say we can rotate some guys. We got Ben (Carter) in there a little bit at the end just because he hasn’t played much and we wanted to make sure that we start to bring him back slowly but surely and so I think that depth it plays to our part because of this, I don’t have selfish guys. One day it might be him, one day it might be Gavin because he might have to guard a four. One day it might have to be Ben because he can do some things as far as pass the ball in that there are a lot of different options and if you watch our bench some of those are still pulling for the guys that are out there. I can’t tell you what that means to me and I hope it’s something the fans, people can appreciate because in this world of Twitter and commericaling and this Twitter world where it’s all about me they just don’t play like that way and its time after time. I mean that was the first semester it seemed all cool and now we’re into the Big Ten season. You saw the same thing and I guess I’m blessed for that.”
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