With the Tigers’ odds of contending for a playoff spot rapidly dwindling to naught, the five months until the 2008-09 MSU basketball season begins are looking even longer to me than they otherwise would. Nonetheless, let’s look ahead to how the team fits together, at least on paper.
I’ve now provided my thoughts on all the returning scholarship players:
Putting these 10 guys in with the three incoming freshman and preferred walk-on Austin Thornton, I see the depth chart looking something like this next season:
- That starting lineup looks awfully explosive in a transition game. Of course, the trick is getting into a transition game. Failing that, a key will be taking advantage of mismatches that are bound to happen in the half-court offense with a frontline of Morgan/Roe/Suton.
- The depth is pretty good across the roster. There’s one proven back-up in each of the three categories (Walton/Summers/Gray; I’m giving Gray the benefit of the doubt) and everyone ought to be able to at least hold down the fort in a pinch. If Dahlman were to redshirt, they could be a tad thin at the wing positions, as Thornton probably won’t be ready to contribute and Morgan will likely play some at the 4 spot again.
- Also, we’ll probably see 10-15 minutes per game (hopefully no more than that) of two point guards on the floor, which will reduce minutes for wing players.
- There’s 30 fouls there to be absorbed by big men.
- I haven’t read anything about freshman redshirts. Roe certainly won’t. Izzo hasn’t redshirted guards historically, so Lucious probably won’t. Green could be a candidate, but I’d tend to doubt given that Izzo can’t be sure how many minutes he can rely on Gray for.
- In terms of playing time distribution, the question is how Izzo will fill in Neitzel’s 30+ minutes/game and Naymick’s 20+ minutes/game. Hopefully, Roe is healthy enough to take up Naymick’s minutes right away. I’d guess Allen will increase his PT pretty dramatically–somewhere around 25 minutes/game. The team will need his pure shooting ability on the floor more often than not. Hopefully, Lucas, Summers, and Morgan can all become reliable perimeter shooters, as well, as Allen won’t be able to fill Neitzel’s shoes alone.
Here’s how I’d project playing time for the full roster:
- Lucas: 25-30 minutes
- Morgan: 25-30 minutes
- Suton: 25-30 minutes
- Allen: 25 minutes
- Roe: 20-25 minutes
- Walton: 20 minutes
- Summers: 15-20 minutes
- Gray: 15 minutes
- Green: 5-10 minutes
- Lucious: 5-10 minutes
- Ibok/Herzog: 0-5 minutes
- Dahlman/Thornton: Minimal PT
Averaging out the ranges, these figures add up to 200 minutes per game. They imply that Morgan would slide to the 4 spot for just 5 minutes per game and the team would have two point guards on the floor for 15 minutes.
Projecting the freshman is obviously the hardest, having not seen them play. There don’t seem to be a lot of minutes there for Lucious with two established point guards ahead of him. He is supposed to be a better pure shooter than Lucas, though, so maybe that gets him some time on the floor. Green would seem to have a shot to take some minutes away from Gray.
Coffee Talk time: What do you think? Who do you see stepping up to replace Neitzel? What excites/worries you most about this roster?
Speaking of Neitzel . . .
He’s been invited to the NBA pre-draft camp, which began in Orlando today. Other Big Ten players participating are Jamar Butler, Brian Butch, and Othello Hunter. (Eric Gordon is there for a physical only; D.J. White and Kosta Koufos aren’t in Orlando. White may or may not think he’s a lock to be a Piston.)
We’ll keep our eyes open for updates on Neitzel’s performance. His lack of size still seems like a huge obstacle to making it in today’s rough-and-tumble NBA, but I hope he gets every opportunity to find a niche with a team looking for an efficient ball-handler with shooting range. We do tend to forget how good a passer he is, given that those skills were underutilized during his college career as he was relied on as the primary scorer for the last two years.