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Michigan State Basketball: An abrupt end to promising run

There’s nothing to be ashamed of here.



Michigan State basketball
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State basketball suffered an abrupt end to what looked to be a promising run on Thursday night against Kansas State.

You never quite know exactly when you’re in the middle of witnessing greatness. Sometimes, you don’t realize it until after the fact. Other times, you’ve convinced yourself beforehand that whatever you’re about to see will be just that. And then there are times like Thursday night. Times when it’s so obvious, that it doesn’t need to be said. It just needs to be appreciated. Kansas State and Michigan State basketball put on a display of excellence at Madison Square Garden on Thursday evening. It was a display so grand that it feels downright foolish to tag anyone as a loser.

But this is sports. And somebody has to lose.

That somebody was Michigan State. No, the Spartans did not get blown off the court. They did not blow a big lead. It wasn’t a lack of execution or a lack of trying. They just got beat. That’s going to happen.

But that’s what is so difficult about this result. For MSU and its fans, in this tournament, when the Spartans are playing at their best, they win. When Michigan State elevates its game to another level — at any point in any season — few can play with them. For this 2022-23 group, we didn’t get a taste of that ceiling until this tournament. As we learned, it was good enough to keep playing – possibly into next weekend.

Under Tom Izzo, Michigan State has prided itself on being tougher than everyone else. That toughness, combined with this program’s culture, has raised the level of play in March for this program.

On Thursday night, though, there was one guy in purple that was just a little bit tougher. Markquis Nowell was the difference. He put together a game and a stat line that will go down in March Madness lore. Each highlight was just as impressive as the last. Between his prolific passing, clutch shot-making, and toughness, he was the difference. In most team sports, the impact of one player is mitigated by what the rest of the team can provide. Basketball is the exception. One player can carry a team.

It’s the other side of March Madness. For all of the upsets, Cinderella runs, and buzzer-beaters, there is a team on the other side that goes home. The Spartans have been on the right side of so many of those runs over the years. It’s what has created a standard that is higher at Michigan State than just about everywhere else. People expect Final Fours. With Michigan State’s coaches, players, resources, and commitment to the program, it’s a fair expectation.

But as fans, alumni, and supporters of the program, the best you can ask for is relentless effort, dedication, and passion. This group checked all of those boxes. Just 13 days ago, they looked lifeless as they bowed out of the Big Ten Tournament against a sub .500 Ohio State team. They responded by playing their best basketball of the season with a renewed sense of urgency.

Historically, that sense of urgency combined with their talent and coaching has been enough to propel Michigan State deep into this tournament. On Thursday, it wasn’t quite enough. And that’s okay, too.

This program is beyond claiming moral victories. This certainly wasn’t one of them, regardless. The season is over, and Michigan State will be left watching the rest of this tournament wondering “what if”? But they’ll do so wondering more about their opponent’s “what if” than their own. Kansas State won this game. Michigan State did not lose it. The Spartans lost because this is a sport in America, where there are no draws (sorry soccer fans). There are no third-place games or do-overs. You simply go home.

So as Michigan State basketball goes home, it’ll undoubtedly be frustrated. Their dreams were right in front of them. Right there for the taking. The Spartans took their opportunity and ran with it. Kansas State chased them down and took it right back. Devastating. No doubt. But that’s sports. That’s life. When your best is beaten by someone else’s best, you tip your cap and move on.

Saying that doesn’t make it any easier. Believing it won’t change the outcome. That’s what comes with the territory of playing in the second weekend of this tournament. Single elimination. Winners and losers. Michigan State, for a change, had to play the role of loser.


Writer says there’s a huge gap between Purdue and Michigan State basketball

This seems like a wild claim.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star claims that Purdue is “historically loaded” and there’s a huge gap between them and Michigan State basketball.

With the news of Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard returning along with Tyson Walker and Malik Hall to go along with the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, Michigan State basketball went from a conference title contender to a national title contender.

Essentially everyone who follows college basketball has Michigan State as a top-five team and right there in the Big Ten as 1B to Purdue’s 1A — some even have it the other way around.

The Spartans bring back everyone but Joey Hauser to a team that went to the Sweet 16 and Purdue returns national player of the year Zach Edey to a Big Ten title team. Both teams are loaded and should be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to national title contention.

But one Indy Star writer believes that Purdue is “historically loaded” and the talent-and-depth gap between the Boilermakers and “everyone else” is as large as he’s seen in years. Just a wild claim.

Gregg Doyel cites a solid incoming class to go along with Edey returning and the two freshmen guards with another year in the system. But he fails to recognize that Michigan State got even better. The Spartans are bringing in an even better recruiting class and they return their 2-3 most talented players from a year ago. The only loss is Hauser.

Saying that this year’s Purdue team is far-and-away the most talented and deepest team in the Big Ten and the gap is the biggest it’s been in years is asinine. There was a much larger gap last year.

Michigan State will go toe-to-toe with the Boilermakers and as long as Edey can be neutralized, the Spartans will have a chance to take them down for the Big Ten crown.

It’s tough to say a team like Michigan State basketball that’s 11-12 guys deep is not nearly as talented or deep as Purdue, but hey, let’s put that early chip on the shoulder.

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Michigan State Basketball: Allocating guard minutes for 2023-24

A lot of guards, not a lot of minutes to be had.



Michigan State basketball
© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball has an absolutely loaded backcourt heading into 2023-24. Let’s allocate the guard minutes.

Michigan State basketball has a loaded backcourt with the news of AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins returning next season. Add this on top of Tyson Walker coming back and Michigan State adding a four-star point guard in Jeremy Fears just loads up this back court even more.

Let’s take a look at what the minute allocation could look like between the five guards on the roster.


The starting point guard is clearly set into place with AJ Hoggard starting 33 of 34 games last year. Next year’s team still goes as Hoggard goes and he will most likely average 28-30 minutes per game. AJ being able to defend multiple positions allows him to play alongside any of the other three guards on the roster next year. He should average around 15 points per game and six-plus assists. Him being able to increase his 3-point percentage up to 35 percent next year should help his scoring dramatically.

The starting shooting guard is Walker who started in all 34 games last season and nothing will change this season. This team is going to rely plenty on Tyson to begin the season as this team continues to mesh with all of the different lineups. He played almost 34 minutes per game this season due to injuries and necessity. Tyson will take a step back and only play 30-32 minutes this upcoming season. He will look to average 16-plus points per game and 2.5-plus assists.


This may come as a surprise, but I believe the backup point guard role will fall to Tre Holloman. He has a year under the belt with the system and should take a step forward in his role. He is able to defend either guard position allowing him to play with any of the other four guards on the team. Holloman will play anywhere between 8-12 minutes per game and will look to be in a more featured role running the backup offense. Tre should average 3-5 points per game and 1.5 assists.

Jeremy Fears will fill in and be able to learn from a loaded backcourt while playing 6-8 minutes per game which could be pushed to 8-10 by the end of the season. Fears defense should rival what Walker brings to this team with this second group. Fears offensive role will look like Tre’s freshman year and not looked upon much offensively. He should look to average 1.5-plus points and one assist per game.

Finally, Jaden Akins will fill in anywhere from 2-5 minutes at the two-guard spot. He can help fill an offensive role when Tyson is out of the game and can handle some of the pick and roll duties in this spot. Akins will mostly play on the wing as he started 25 games there last season. He is a guard, but he’ll be forced into playing on the wing.

Minutes Summary

  • AJ Hoggard: 28-30 per game
  • Tyson Walker: 30-32 per game
  • Tre Holloman: 8-12 per game
  • Jeremy Fears: 6-8 per game
  • Jaden Akins: 2-5 per game

Akins did tweet this out the other day:

So he could see more ball-handling duties.

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Jeremy Fears makes final cut for U19 USA Basketball team

Jeremy Fears could represent USA Basketball again.



Jeremy Fears
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming Michigan State freshman Jeremy Fears has made the final cut for the U19 USA Basketball team.

Incoming Michigan State basketball freshman Jeremy Fears is hard at work this summer. He is currently in the process of trying to make the final roster for the U19 USA Basketball team. Thirty-five athletes have been selected to participate in their upcoming training camp, and Fears is included on that list.

Training camp for these 35 athletes with take place June 11-18. Twelve players will then be selected to participate in the FIBA U19 Wold Cup at the conclusion of this training camp. The World Cup takes place from June 24 through July 2.

The 35 players consist of some athletes in the 2022 class that have one year of college ball under their belts. The pool of players also consists of athletes from the 2023 incoming freshmen class and the 2024 class who will be high school seniors. More than half of these participants have USA Basketball experience and ten of them have won gold for the USA already.

Jeremy Fears’ USA Basketball history

Jeremy Fears is one of the 10 players mentioned to have already won gold for the USA. In fact, Fears has won a gold medal twice. He won the 2021 U16 FIBA Championships and in 2022 won gold in the U17 FIBA World Cup.

Based on this history alone, I love his chances to make the team again. The USA Basketball program is obviously very familiar with him already which gives him an advantage. Also, why wouldn’t they want someone who has won two gold medals to play for them again?

Fears has yet to move in to East Lansing like some of his fellow members of his freshman class have. He likely will see this event out before moving to campus to start gearing up for the regular season. Michigan State has had many athletes compete with team USA in the past, so Tom Izzo is more than happy to let his players participate.

For the full USA Basketball press release, click here.

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