Sunday is Senior Day. Here’s your discussion question: What the first word that pops into your head when you hear the name of each of four seniors?
My (alliterative) answers are below.
Suton’s key tempo-free numbers for the four years he was an active player:
While most four-year players show improved efficiency over their careers, you’re not going to find too many that have followed that consistent an upward path of performance. Suton came in as an unheralded big man from a local high school; he departs as the near-perfect Tom Izzo post player. I once called him “indispensable.” This year’s nonconference results (unfortunately) proved me right.
I’m going to move on before I start tearing up.
Walton has generated his share of angst from MSU fans on the offensive side of the court. His offensive rating has never gotten above the 95-105 range. Nevertheless, he’s been a Tom Izzo kind of a player from the get go.
And, as a senior, there are stats-based reasons to celebrate his contributions to the team: He’s turned the best perimeter scorers in the Big Ten into downright mediocre performers, and he’s reduced his turnover percentage from 30%+ in previous years to 20.9% this year–while at the same time picking up the slack creating scoring opportunities for his teammates as Kalin Lucas has focused more on individual scoring in conference play.
On a team that reflects Tom Izzo’s personality, Travis Walton has been Izzo’s on-the-court assistant.
On paper, Gray is the greatest disappointment of the Izzo era. To some extent, that’s based on what was no doubt overly enthusiastic evaluations of Gray’s abilities by the recruiting gurus. Injuries (another “I” word) have also been a factor. And, quite frankly, even when healthy Gray just hasn’t had the capacity to put it all together for more than a game or two at a time.
Nevertheless, Gray has had moments of brilliance. He’s been an all-conference-level defensive rebounder throughout his career (20%+ DefReb% the last three years). And, to his credit, I have yet to see him pouting on the bench this year, even as his playing time has been decreased to a handful of minutes per game. He’s held his head high, and I applaud him for it.
I’m 95% confident that Ibok has played the fewest minutes of any four-year scholarship player during the Tom Izzo era. But I’m also going to say he fully earned his five years of scholarship funding in the five minutes he played against Illinois last Sunday.
Bonus stat: 3.1 blocks/40 minutes played for his career.
Your Turn: Let’s hear what the rest of you have to say about these four Spartans. Bonus points for using words that start with the same letter for all four players.