Where Does MSU Men’s Basketball Go From Here?
The Michigan State men's basketball team ended the 2021-22 campaign this past Sunday with a closer than expected 85-76 loss to the Duke Blue Devils in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Spartans finished up at 23-13 on the season, tied for 7th in the Big Ten (with Michigan). They did upset Wisconsin to advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinal before losing to Purdue.
State had an up-and-down season. They started the season extremely well, going 14-2 to start and making the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament before losing to defending national champion Baylor 75-58.
But once they got into the Big Ten season, it was a struggle. They unexpectedly lost at home to Northwestern, They beat lowly Minnesota at the buzzer in EL, and also lost to Wisconsin and Illinois at the Breslin Center. They were blown out on the road by Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan. But they beat Purdue in East Lansing on Tyson Walker's game-winning shot in the final seconds.
So, where do the Spartan hoopsters need to improve to make a deeper run next season? Here are a few thoughts:
First, figure out who's coming back
Actually, because of the free COVID year, everybody can return. Although, nobody expects that to happen, The guys most frequently mentioned are seniors Gabe Brown, Marcus Bingham, and junior Joey Hauser. Brown and Bingham have one year left, and Hauser has two (because of an injury while at Marquette and the year he missed due to the transfer). All three were inconsistent this year. Who leaves and who stays amongst these three is an important first step this offseason.
Point guard riches
The "one" spot was a big question mark heading into the season. But the combination of transfer Tyson Walker and sophomore A.J. Hoggard turned out pretty. Both had really good moments, but struggled at other times. However, a year's worth of experience should help them next year. And if one of them gets into foul trouble or suffers an injury, you have a pretty good insurance policy there. Walker has one year left, Hoggard has three years of eligibility left.
Max Christie needs to return to school
The freshman (pictured above) showed that he was probably the best player on the team, talentwise. He looks to be a future pro. But not yet. Head coach Tom Izzo said that Christie hit the freshman "wall" in February. He doesn't look big enough (I'm talking strengthwise) to play in the NBA just yet. An offseason in the weight room would benefit him greatly because the raw skills are there now. Stay in school, Max!!
Will any of the current youngsters be a breakout star next year?
I'm talking about freshmen Pierre Brooks and/or Jaden Akins and sophomore Mady Sissoko. Which one of these guys will bust out and become a major player for the Spartans next season. At least one of these guys will need to show improvement big-time.
What about the incoming freshmen? Or will they get someone in the transfer portal?
The Spartans have two incoming freshmen signed. They are 6-2 guard Trejuan Holloman from Minnesota and 6-9 center from California Jaxon Kohler. Given all the guys in front of them, there shouldn't be much expected from them. As far as the transfer portal? If Brown, Bingham, and Hauser all leave, you might see a frontcourt transfer on the squad next year.
Let us know what you think the Spartans need to have a great season next year.