. . . just one more thing. (Note to self: better planning needed for future posts.)
Going into this season, Coach Izzo indicated he planned to pick up the tempo on offense to take advantage of MSU’s improved depth and athleticism. Let take a quick look at whether that’s really happened.
The stat to look at here is “pace”–possessions per game. This is essentially the stat we use as the denominator to come up with tempo-free stats.
Last season, MSU ranked 8th in the Big Ten during conference play in pace, average 60.8 possessions per game. And the Big Ten is notoriously the slowest paced of the major conferences.
This season, that stat has increased substantially through four games, to 68.6 possessions per game. Again, though, the UCLA game was the outlier, as MSU only had 61 possessions in that game. My viewing of the game indicated that MSU pushed the ball well in the first half as they build their lead but slowed down too much during the second half. Hopefully, this will be a learning experience and (as advocated below) MSU will keep their foot on the gas even when they have a lead.