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Posts Tagged ‘raymar morgan’

I’ve decided not to post any commentary of a forward-looking nature until we get over to the new site. For now, let’s revel in the season that has been.

One of the things that made this season so special was the number of guys who stepped up at various times during the season to get the team to 31 wins, despite multiple injuries disrupting the regular lineup during the season.  For the season, nine different players led the team in scoring at least once, seven different players led the team in rebounding at least once, and five different players led the team in assists at least once (including ties in all three cases).

To look back at some of those contributions, I’ve put together a list of the top ten individual performances over the course of the season.  I’ve split the list into five regular season performances and five postseason performances.

Regular Season Performances

5. Raymar Morgan vs. Oklahoma State
29 points on 9-11 FG shooting and 11-13 FT shooting, 5 rebounds
Few MSU fans got to see this game, after MSU dropped the opener in the Old Spice Classic, but Morgan put up some huge numbers against a team that would eventually make the NCAA Tournament.

4. Delvon Roe at Michigan
14 points on 5-7 FG shooting, 10 rebounds
From the game recap: “Delvon Roe finally put together the kind of game we’ve been hoping for against a smaller lineup: 14 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.  He took advantage of the mismatch against Zach Novak and the other guards that were matched up with him inside–and made 4 of 6 free throws to boot.”

3. Kalin Lucas at Illinois
18 points on 7-14 FG shooting, 4 assists, 1 turnovers
You could put Lucas on this list as many times as you wanted, but we’ll go with his extremely efficient performance in MSU’s best win of the Big Ten season.  That performance included a layup Lucas created out of nothing to put MSU ahead 60-58 with 5 minutes go after Illinois had rallied from a 7-point second-half deficit.

2. Durrell Summers at Ohio State
26 points on 6-9 three-point shooting, 4 rebounds
From the game recap: “The tale of the first half was Durrell Summers single-handedly keeping the team afloat, scoring 16 of the team’s 26 points as the rest of the team struggled with turnovers and 3-point shooting against the Ohio State 3-2 zone.”

1. Goran Suton vs. Wisconsin
16 points on 6-6 FT shooting, 10 rebounds, 2 assists
From the game recap: “Suton was a warrior.  After not starting the game (apparently to reward Tom Herzog–he of the graceful reverse layup–for his hard work in practice), Suton posted 16 points and 10 rebounds–most of them in the second half.  He pulled down a couple huge offensive rebounds, as did Raymar Morgan (5 rebounds in 17 minutes), during the comeback from 12 down.  Give Suton credit for keeping his composure after the airballed 3-pointer (his third 3-point miss of the game) and leading the team to victory.”

Honorable Mention: Travis Walton’s back-to-back 16-point performances at the Old Spice Classic.  Marquise Gray’s back-to-back 12-point performances in the same setting.  Suton’s 18-point performance against Texas in just his second game back from the knee injury.  Morgan’s 22-point/13-rebound performance against Northwestern to help MSU open the conference season with two road wins.  Chris Allen’s 17-point performance (on 4-7 three-point shooting) in the same game, against the 1-3-1 zone.  Lucas’ 21-point performance against Purdue in the regular season finale.  And just for Mrs. SW: Austin Thornton’s 9-point performance (on 3-3 three-point shooting) in the opener against Idaho.

Postseason Performances

5. Goran Suton vs. North Carolina
17 points on 3-4 three-point shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks
While the outcome of the game was a disappointment, let’s not forget Suton went toe to toe with one of the most celebrated post players in the history of college basketball and matched him almost play for play.

4. Kalin Lucas vs. Kansas
18 points on 7-7 FT shooting, 7 assists, 4 steals
From the game recap: “Kalin Lucas could not be any more clutch.”  I think this play will forever pop into my head whenever I hear the phrase “and one.”

3. Raymar Morgan vs. UConn
18 points on 7-13 FG shooting, 9 rebounds, 5 steals
From the game recap: “Raymar Morgan played the best game of his career . . . against the very epitome of the kind of tall, athletic opponent he normally struggles against.  I thought his confidence would melt away after he had his first shot of the game blocked by Thabeet, but MSU retained the ball (on a team rebound) and Morgan came right back and knocked down a shot.  From there, his confidence swelled.”

2. Goran Suton vs. Louisville
19 points on 3-5 three-point shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 assists
From the game recap: “Tom Izzo’s game plan in the half-court offense was to put Suton in the middle of the top two defenders in Louisville’s 2-3 zone and use Suton’s shooting/passing skills to break down the defense.  Suton responded beautifully, almost single-handedly keeping MSU even with the Cardinals through the first 20 minutes.  On defense, he completely shut down Samardo Samuels.  On his first three touches of the ball in the post, Samuels traveled, missed a shot, and got called for an offensive foul.  Samuels never bounced back and went scoreless for the game.”

1. Travis Walton vs. USC
18 points on 8-13 FG shooting, 2 assists, 2 steals
From the game recap: “On the first possession of the game–when USC came out employing the box and one–Walton got the ball about 18 feet from the basket in an open spot in the zone.  Usually, you’d expect him to hesitate at least briefly before shooting the ball so early in the game.  But, instead, he immediately squared up and knocked down the shot.  From their, his confidence ballooned; eventually he knocked down a couple shots where he had to adjust the arc of the shot due to an onrushing USC defender.”

Honorable Mention: Chris Allen’s 17-point performance against Minnesota in the conference tournament.  Korie Lucious’ 16-point performance to try to mount a comeback against Ohio State in the conference tournament.  Draymond Green’s 16-point performance against Robert Morris.  Suton’s 20-point/9-rebound performance against Kansas.  Lucas’ 21-point/5-assist performance against UConn.

Who would have thought that Travis Walton, of all players, would end up making having arguably the key offensive performance of the entire season?  And we’re not even talking about his defense.  The games in which he locked down A.J. Abrams, Manny Harris, and A.J. Price could have easily been included on the lists above.

Coffee Talk: What do all of you think?  Which performance merits top billing?  What great individual performances did I miss?

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ford field msu uconn

The Spartans run, not walk, past the Huskies 82-73 in a 74-possession game. StatSheet box score.

At this point, it’s hard to find more words to describe how well this team is playing.  This game was almost a carbon copy of the Louisville game in terms of scoring flow: It was back and forth in the first half with the two teams basically playing even.  MSU eventually wore the opponent down with their depth and game plan to build a double-digit lead in the final minutes.  (The mini-collapse at the end was a little troubling, but I think there was a certain shock factor in adjusting to an opponent suddenly pressuring you full-court after playing a fairly passive defense for 35+ minutes.)

It was pretty apparent early that Tom Izzo had not consulted Digger Phelps about the game plan: The plan was to run early and run often.  By doing so, MSU was able to create scoring opportunities near the basket without Hasheem Thabeet in position to block shots.  For the game Thabeet, blocked just two shots (a stat I had a hard time believing when I saw the box score).  UConn totaled 7 blocks–just 13.2% of MSU’s 2-point attempts, which was right in line with the percentage that USC and Louisville blocked.

Looking at the four-factor numbers, things played out as we hoped they would:

We won the turnover battle decisively (looking at the stats they put up on the scoreboard at Ford Field, it seemed like were “stuck” on 6 turnovers forever), kept the rebounding margin even, and ended up taking 13 more shots from the field that the Huskies did.  We didn’t shoot the ball all that well (47.2% on 2-pointers, 31.6% on 3-pointers), but it was good enough to hit 1.11 on the offensive points-per-possession meter.  (That’s two straight games above 1.10 against two of the top three defenses in the entire country.)

As the numbers predicted, UConn took more shots from the line (33 vs. 20, with the gap narrowed by UConn’s intentional fouls at the end).  But they weren’t efficient in turning those opportunities into points, shooting just 63.6% from the stripe.  Kemba Walker’s 3-9 performance had to be particularly demoralizing to the Huskies, as Walker missed his first 5 attempts from the line.

Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrian were dominant early on.  The two players finished with a combined 30 points on 23 FG attempts.  But Izzo stuck with the strategy of playing them straight up and, eventually, they couldn’t continue to provide consistent scoring.  A.J. Price was forced to try to create offense for UConn, but Travis Walton made him take 20 shots from the field to get to his 15 points.  Even better for us, Price had just 1 assist.

For the game, UConn recorded an assist on only 8 of their 25 made field goals.  MSU forced them to make individual plays to beat them and, in the end, the Huskies couldn’t make enough of those plays.  Stanley Robinson played with tremendous efficiency (15 points on 6 FG attempts and 13 rebounds) but he still seemed like a secondary player in UConn’s overall scheme.

For MSU, this was yet another “team” effort, in every sense of the word.  I was particuarly struck by how well the three freshmen played.  Here they were, less than five months into their college careers, playing in front of 72,000 people, and none of the three seemed the least bit intimidated:

  • Korie Lucious was huge in the first half, scoring 11 points (on a total of 8 FG attempts for the game) to help keep MSU within striking distance.  With UConn playing a fairly passive defense, it was a great situation for Lucious to shine, and he came up huge.
  • Delvon Roe had 4 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 21 minutes of play.  He played with composure against the UConn big men, with one of his baskets coming off a move that seemed to involve at least three pump fakes.
  • Draymond Green somehow scored 8 points in just 12 minutes of play.  The man simply has no fear.  How about the confidence he demonstrated in knocking down that open 18-footer late in the game?

Moving on to the big-number performances, one came from an expected source, and one did not:

  • Kalin Lucas put up 21 points on 3-6 three-point shooting to go with 5 assists.  At this point, the only other point guard out there I’m willing to concede can match the combination of ability and moxie that Lucas has will be on the other side of the court when Monday’s game tips off.  That move Lucas made on the fast break to split the two UConn defenders was pure brilliance.
  • Raymar Morgan played the best game of his career: 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 steals against the very epitome of the kind of tall, athletic opponent he normally struggles against.  I thought his confidence would melt away after he had his first shot of the game blocked by Thabeet, but MSU retained the ball (on a team rebound) and Morgan came right back and knocked down a shot.  From there, his confidence swelled.

Your other six Spartan contributors:

  • Travis Walton made A.J. Price’s life miserable, dished out 9 assists, stole the ball twice, and didn’t record a single turnover.  With those contributions, we can live with a 1-6 shooting night.
  • Goran Suton only scored 4 points.  He wasn’t going to have any success down low, and the UConn players seemed focused on not letting him get good perimeter looks.  But he was fairly effective in denying Thabeet position (getting into foul trouble in the process), and chipped in 7 rebounds, 2 assists (including the gorgeous backdoor pass to Summers in the final minute), 2 steals, and a block.
  • Durrell Summers had a pretty nice dunk, if I recall correctly.  For the game, he posted 10 points and 6 rebounds.  At this point, I’d hope that national commentators have seen enough of his play (not to mention that of Lucas, Morgan, and Allen) to stop saying we’re lacking “talent.”
  • Chris Allen wasn’t on, shooting just 1-6 from the field in 9 minutes.  But he’s now reached the point where he’s no longer a major liability on the floor when he’s not scoring.
  • Marquise Gray scored on a dunk early in the first half.  That play doesn’t register in my memory banks; I’ll have to take note when I rewatch the game on DVR later today.
  • Idong Ibok did what he needed him to do: absorb fouls.    Three fouls and 2 rebounds in 6 minutes.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any MSU team play 80 minutes of basketball as well as this team has played them over the last two games.  Everyone’s contributing right now.  That’s created a versatility that’s allowed us to win back-to-back games of completely different tempos: 56 possessions against Louisville, 74 against UConn.  We forced an up-tempo, pressing team to play a slow-down game, and we forced a great half-court defensive team to play up up-tempo game.  Tom Izzo has now thoroughly out-coached two (fellow) future hall-of-fame coaches in two consecutive games on the sport’s biggest stage.

Speaking of stages, the scene at Ford Field was pretty darn cool.  At least 40,000 of the 72,000 seats were occupied by Spartan fans.  But what really created an advantage was having the students there.  The Izzone members initiated  the loudest cheering, as the rest of the fans followed their lead.  The sizable fan advantage certainly wasn’t the deciding factor, but it did seem to help keep UConn off balance when MSU made their run to extend the lead to double digits in the second half.

Celebrity sightings:

  • Outside the arena: Jim Boeheim, Derrick Coleman.
  • On the concourse: Mark Dantonio, Emeka Okafor, Charles Rogers.
  • In the MSU section behind the basket: Greg Kelser, Drew Naymick (with whom Goran Suton spent 10 minutes chatting after the game), Antonio Smith, Mike Chappell.
  • Walking up the aisle in the corner of the MSU section (where the Spartans Weblog clan was seated): Most of the MSU players.  Mrs. SW was able to obtain the autograph of Mr. Draymond Green.

It was the most magical night yet in this storybook run–a run that could now end with a classic storybook ending: Beating a nemesis that humiliated us by 35 points earlier this season in the very same locale.  More on that later today.  For now, let it sink in: This team has now taken us farther than all but two other teams in the one-hundred-plus history of the Michigan State basketball program.

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The Spartans bounce the Colonials 77-62 in a 65-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

The Kenpom prediction was a scoreline of 73-60, so the game result was in line with statistical expectations.  Robert Morris kept things close early by knocking down some 3-pointers, but eventually MSU’s size and athleticism were too much for the Colonials to handle.  Michigan State used a 21-point run spanning halftime to put the game out of reach with roughly 15 minutes to go.

The four factor graph shows MSU’s dominance on the boards and getting the ball inside to create situations in which the Colonials had to foul:

Five players hit double digits in scoring:

  • Raymar Morgan scored 16 points on 7-14 FG shooting.  He came out aggressively in the game and looks like he’s fully back to being the player he was before his illness.
  • Draymond Green also scored 16, converting 7 of 8 FG attempts.  Green took advantage of RMU’s small lineup to score in multiple ways around the basket.
  • Kalin Lucas had 13 points, knocking down his only 3-point attempt and hitting all 4 of his free throw attempts.
  • Goran Suton was a man among boys: 11 points and 17 rebounds.  He would have hit the 20-rebound mark if Izzo hadn’t pulled the starters with 5-6 minutes left.
  • Chris Allen scored 10 points on 2-4 three-point shooting.  Exactly the kind of game we need out of him; now the question is whether he can do it in back-to-back games.

Travis Walton did his usual number on the opponent’s top perimeter scorer, holding Jeremy Chappell to 11 points on 14 FG attempts (which was still the team high for RMU).

A positive resulting from putting the game effectively out of reach early in the second half is that no MSU player had to play more than 25 minutes.  Despite winning by 17, USC played three of its players for the full 40 minutes and a fourth player for 36 minutes.  Hopefully, that creates an advantage 40 hours from now.

Tonight’s win was a workmanlike effort–exactly the kind of performance you want as a high seed in the first round of the tournament.  It’s encouraging that multiple players contributed throughout the game.  Ten players played at least 11 minutes.  To make a deep run, we’re going to need productive minutes throughout the playing rotation.

Next up: An all-Greek affair, as the Spartans battle the Trojans on Sunday.  Game time is 5:00 p.m.  I’ll try to get a game preview up tomorrow, but it probably won’t be until late in the day.

P.S. For what it’s worth, only three of the top eight seeds in the Midwest region remain alive.  Of course, those three teams are the top three seeds: Louisville, MSU, and Kansas.

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The Spartans dodge a bullet and win an outright title, all in same night.  64-59 MSU in a 60-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

Weird game:

Indiana kept the rebounding battle close, both teams turned the ball over with regularity, and sloppy defense led to a lot of free throw attempts.  Thankfully, our shooting was good enough (5-11 from the beyond the arc) to prevent Indiana from ever grabbing the lead and really getting their confidence rolling.

It’s hard to say what had MSU so out of whack:

  • Short turn-around between games
  • The zone defenses Crean threw at them
  • A failure to take a cellar-dwelling, but still very scrappy, opponent seriously

Regardless, this was easily our least inspired performance of the season.  The good news?  Tom Izzo now has four full days to prepare for Purdue–and all the ammunition he could want to keep the team motivated.

Speaking of Izzo, you have to question the wisdom of egging on the official during a timeout to get the technical called on him that seemed to spark IU’s run after MSU had built a double-digit lead (which was down to 9 at the point the T was called).  I went back and watched the previous play again.  The travel call on Lucas was a bad one (assuming that’s what set Izzo off); it was an awkward sequence, but he only took one step after he picked up his dribble.  But, by going after the ref during the timeout, Izzo took what was a fairly stable situation and gave IU something to hang its hat on to make one more run.

Anyway, my inclination is to write this game off as an outlier in what has otherwise been a stellar (and consistent) run through the conference season.  The glitches on offense don’t concern me too much; the entire team seemed half a step slow all night, which is fairly easy to write off to the first two bulleted excuses above.  (Our 14 turnovers were spread across 9 different players.)

The defensive lapses worry me a little more.  For whatever reason, MSU kept letting the Hoosier players get behind the defense.  Indiana’s swing men (Jones, Williams, and Story) combined for 37 points on 31 FG attempts as they continually found ways to get open on the baseline or in the lane.  That’ll need to be corrected, as our opponents’ guards are only going to get more athletic from here on out.

The one clear positive coming out of this game is the performance of Raymar Morgan: 14 points on 6-6 FG shooting to go with 7 rebounds (and 3 turnovers).  His jumpshot looks like its back.  And his legs are definitely back; I’m fairly sure he’s never jumped any higher than he did on the dunk off the Summers 3-point miss in the final minute to seal the game.

Next up: Purdue.  Noon on Sunday.  The Breslin Center.  CBS.

The banner’s all ours.  This one’s just for pride.

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Tuesday Night Links

Some non-poll-related conversation topics:

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MSU in games in which Goran Suton or Raymar Morgan have been out/limited:

  • 8-4 record
  • Offensive efficiency of 105.0
  • Defensive efficiency of 96.3

MSU in games in which Goran Suton and Raymar Morgan have both been at/near full strength:

  • 12-0 record
  • Offensive efficiency of 118.4
  • Defensive efficiency of 93.8

The schedule for the second set of games is slightly easier (4-5 pushovers vs. 2-3 in the first set).  But the second set includes three conference road games, the “neutral” site game vs. Texas, and home games against Kansas/Ohio State/Illinois.

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Following up on yesterday’s attempt to invent a statistic, here are the current Points Over Replacement Per Adjusted Game (PORPAG) numbers for the MSU players listed at Kenpom:

Player Min% OffRtg %Poss PORPAG
Lucas 76.0 121.3 23.0 3.90
Morgan 67.3 112.7 25.6 2.88
Allen 49.8 108.9 24.0 1.70
Suton 35.5 123.6 17.4 1.47
Summers 50.2 104.6 20.0 1.15
Walton 68.8 98.1 15.3 0.76
Roe 41.7 99.3 20.0 0.67
Green 21.7 110.6 15.2 0.51
Gray 33.0 99.5 18.6 0.50
Thornton 10.8 109.9 17.6 0.28
Lucious 20.7 91.0 24.8 0.13
Ibok 16.8 78.1 8.8 -0.09
TOTAL 13.86

Michigan State’s current (raw) offensive efficiency figure is 112.0.  So in a 65-possession game, they’d be expected to score 72.8 points.  A team of replacement level players (offensive efficiency=88.0), meanwhile, would be expected to score 57.2 points.  That’s a gap of 15.6 points–which is 1.7 points higher than the total PORPAG shown above.  That difference must be some function of:

1) Contributions by the guys at the end of the bench (who are actually shooting a combined 7-12 from the field).  I think this is probably not too significant.

2) A potential advantage MSU might have in terms of team rebounds on offense, which would be the only offensive stat that doesn’t show up in the individual offensive ratings.  This might be significant, but probably doesn’t account for 1.7 points/game.

3) Some missing mathematical piece in the formula I don’t have a grasp of.

Anyway, I think the formula gets pretty darn close to divvying up team offensive performance among individual players–as far as that’s possible, given that basketball is inherently a team sport.

Other notes:

  • Together, Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan account for almost exactly half of MSU’s performance above replacement level.
  • Goran Suton, despite only having played a little over a third of available minutes this season, still ranks 4th in his absolute contributions to the offense.
  • Travis Walton, despite ranking second on the team in minutes played, ranks only sixth in PORPAG.  The question is whether his defense and leadership makes up for that.  My intuitive judgment is that it does, given how well he’s hounded opposing guards this season.  (On my to-do list: Compile a game log of offensive performances by opposing team’s top perimeter scoring threats.)

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