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A Couple Links

The End-of-the-Bench Guys

Picking up on our end-of-the-season review, let’s talk about the three scholarship players who saw minimal action this past year: Isaiah Dahlman, Idong Ibok, and Tom Herzog. There’s not a lot to be done in terms of statistical analysis, since these three players saw a total of just 270 minutes of PT. Here are a few tidbits on each player:

Isaiah Dahlman

Dahlman played 61 minutes over 19 games this season. He saw the court for 10 minutes in just one game (San Jose State). His high scoring output was 6 points on two 3-pointers in the home win against Penn State. (Note that I attended both these games. Perhaps I’m Isaiah Dahlman’s lucky charm . . .or perhaps the games I can get tickets to are the ones against weak opponents.)

You’ll recall Dahlman saw the floor quite a bit as a freshman–15.5 minutes per game–as the Spartans lacked depth on the perimeter. This average was pulled up by a 7-game stretch where he played 20+ minutes per game while Morgan was injured. (Dahlman then missed 8 games himself with an injury during the conference season.)

Dahlman seems like a hard worker and solid member of the team, but it’s hard to see what strengths he brings to the table at this point. He came in having put up big scoring numbers in high school, but has never shown any real spark on offense with MSU. His career shooting numbers aren’t bad: .459/.321/.717 (2pt/3pt/FT). But it’s not clear he’d be able to maintain those numbers if he were relied on to shoot frequently. For his career, he’s taken only 7.7 FG attempts per 40 minutes played. One observation I’ve made is that it seems to take him too long to set himself and get his shot off.

Izzo mentioned the possibility of a mid-career redshirt for Dahlman at the end of the season. Maybe this would give him a chance to develop ala David Thomas, but it’s hard to see him becoming a key part of the playing rotation in his final two years of eligibility.

Idong Ibok

Ibok played 141 minutes over 26 games this season. He reached double digits in just 4 games–although two of those came in MSU’s final four games. One of those performances consisted of playing some key minutes in the first half of MSU’s tournament win over Pittsburgh with Raymar Morgan and Drew Naymick in foul trouble.

He managed to pick up 28 personal fouls in his 141 minutes–a rate of 7.9 per 40 minutes. And his 10 blocked shots equated to just 2.8 per 40 minutes, down from a rate of 7.2 the previous season.

With only one year of eligibility remaining (and his bachelor’s degree in hand), there’s probably not much room for Ibok to improve. He will be what he has been: an option off the bench to absorb fouls and block a few shots.

Tom Herzog

After red-shirting last season, Herzog played 68 minutes in 13 games this season. His only 10+ minute outing was in the blowout win against Penn State. For the season, he made 6 of 14 FG attempts and blocked 6 shots.

Herzog was recruited by former MSU assistant Jim Boylen, who had a reputation for working with big men as an assistant in the NBA with the Rockets. (Of course, a lot of coaches could make Hakeem Olajuwan and Yao Ming look good.) Boylen became the head coach at Utah following the 2006-07 season.

It remains to be seen whether the current coaching staff can develop Herzog into a legitimate offensive threat. With a 7’0″ frame, a few decent post moves could be enough to make him a regular contributor. Based on his first year of limited action, it’s unclear whether that will happen.

Conclusion

Barring major injuries, it seems unlikely that any of these three players will become major contributors during the 2008-09 season. Herzog probably has the most upside of the three, with three years of eligibility remaining.

But having these three guys around does have benefits. They’ll push the other players in practice, and having two extra big guys to call on when you need them could be a nice luxury next season, as a number of Big Ten teams appear to be very shallow on the front line.  Unless Dahlman redshirts, MSU will probably have 13 active scholarship players next season.  In that scenario, a few players simply aren’t going to see the court too much.

The last player to look at is Marquise Gray. When I started this post, I thought this would be the last in the series. The fact that I nearly forgot altogether about a player who started 14 games says something about how Gray’s season went. More on that later.

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