After doubting him all offseason, many Michigan State basketball fans owe big man Mady Sissoko a sincere apology.
Look to your left. Now look to your right. You just saw two doubters of Mady Sissoko before the Michigan State basketball season tipped off.
Look, it’s OK. A lot of us were in that position. I’m not going to say I was a Mady truther (I was) to make you feel bad, but I think it’s time we all apologize to the junior big man for doubting him.
Most of the doubt was fueled by a disappointing 2021-22 season and no portal additions in the post to make up for the losses of Marcus Bingham Jr. and Julius Marble, but it was doubt nonetheless.
It was fair, however. Mady averaged about five minutes per game through two seasons and played in 55 career games, scoring 1.1 points per game throughout his career with a little over a rebound per game. But he still should have been given a little respect. He showed flashes when he did play with some epic swats or a dunk here and there with high energy, but he just wasn’t polished.
What did he do all offseason long knowing that he would be expected to play big minutes? He polished up his game.
Fans were expecting the Sissoko that we’ve seen through three games of the 2022-23 season when he committed and was ranked a couple of spots ahead of Michigan All-American center Hunter Dickinson. It was discouraging to see Hunter break out for two years while Mady rode the pine.
But all Mady needed was an opportunity. And he’s proving himself at an elite level.
Everything we thought we knew about the junior from Mali has been thrown out the window. Oh he’s averaged just under 5.0 minutes per game throughout his career? Doesn’t matter, he’s going to average 25.7 this year. Mady hasn’t proven himself against elite bigs? Doesn’t matter, he’s going to shut down Drew Timme and Oscar Tshiebwe. He’s looked like a baby deer on the floor? Doesn’t matter, he’s going to develop like no other in the offseason and look like one of the best bigs in the Big Ten. Mady can’t play offense? That’s too bad, he’s going to average 11.3 points and shoot 63 percent from the floor.
Mady is just obliterating all the narratives people prepared for him before the season.
The way he looked against Grand Valley was encouraging. And then he looked decent in limited action against Northern Arizona. Then he arguably out-played Timme. And to cap it all off, he went toe-to-toe with Tshiebwe and put up 16 points and eight rebounds while making Oscar earn every bucket he got.
Yeah, Tom Izzo’s scholarship plan was a little crazy. Pushing ahead with 10 scholarship guys is a little unorthodox. Not touching the transfer portal when you’re left with zero (!!) proven bigs is quite the move. But it’s paid off. Mady has developed more than anyone on the team and he looks like an All-Big Ten player.
Imagine reading that before the season.
A lot of us doubted Mady. Many of us gave up on Mady. But Mady bet on himself and Izzo went all-in with his junior big man. And now a lot of us look silly.
We owe Mady an apology.