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Observations From Two Spartan Games

Although Michigan State has started its season 0-2, they lost by a combined 17 points to two of the top teams in the nation.  Last Friday night, the Spartans fought hard against North Carolina for most of the game.  The team lost its composure late after inching back in the second half.  On Tuesday, Michigan State seemed to fall out of favor quickly in the second half after only being down by one at half.  Yet, with minutes to go, MSU bolted back to only a five-point loss.

The Spartans finally get to return home after a long week across the country.  From San Diego to New York, Izzo’s squad gets their first game at the friendly confines of the Breslin Center.  They don’t have to see Harrison Barnes.  They don’t have to watch Andre Dawkins.  Instead, they get Tigers of Texas Southern.  

Four points:

Draymond isn’t on his game

It’s understandable that Draymond Green couldn’t get past John Henson and the frontcourt of the Tar Heels this past weekend.  Shots will be altered and forced against lengthy great defenders.  Green struggled by shooting fewer than 33 percent, but still had 13 points and 18 total rebounds.  He also established himself on the offensive glass with seven rebounds.  On Tuesday, Green shot even worse from the floor and didn’t contribute as much rebounding against a Duke squad that has a weak frontcourt.  He has 11 turnovers in two games.  It’s understandable that Green has to put the team on his shoulders, but not many expected him to struggle this much.

The point guard position is still unsettling

Keith Appling played great in the final minutes of the Duke game Tuesday night.  He finished 8-11 from the floor, including many clutch shots late by driving into the lane.  Yet, that’s the only good minutes Appling has played in the first two games.  He hasn’t drove to the lane with purpose and is not looking to open shooters when Appling does drive.  During the North Carolina game, Appling had three charges against him.  Travis Trice, a true freshman, is getting a lot of important minutes for the Spartans because Appling has gotten into a lot of foul trouble.  He had 20 minutes on Friday and played early against Duke.  The job is Appling’s job to lose.  Neither point guard is comfortable at the position as of yet.  

Tom Izzo has trust in his young players

Branden Dawson rarely leaves the floor for Izzo.  He has shown why he was so highly regarded coming out of high school.  Dawson is better defensively than most thought, but averaged only 8.5 in two games.  Trice has been playing amble playing time as a freshman.  Izzo starts Payne, a sophomore, at center and has to put all his young players in the game when the game matters.  It’s the least experienced team that Izzo has ever had, in his opinion.  Growing pains are going to happen…it’s happened during the first two games already.  As long as Izzo has some sort of patience with this squad, the Spartans should be fine.  The talent is there; the experience will come. 

When against a big run, they are in trouble 

North Carolina was able to spark a 22-6 to end the first half on Friday.  This was right after Michigan State had the lead and confidence.  The Spartans seemed like they were going to be in contention all game long…until North Carolina started making shots.  The Tar Heels got on a quick run against Michigan State, but it didn’t stop.  UNC pulled away from the Spartans because the youth of Michigan State weren’t psychologically prepared for that.  The same happened against Duke, twice.  When a team is able to go on a small run, MSU is unable to stop the bleeding.