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Michigan State Basketball: The great, good, bad, and ugly from loss at Purdue

Mackey Arena strikes again.



Michigan State basketball
© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the great, good, bad and ugly from yet another Michigan State basketball loss to Purdue at Mackey Arena.

No matter the team that Michigan State basketball sends to face Purdue at Mackey Arena, the results are always the same. The Spartans have not won at Mackey since 2014, and Sunday’s matchup was no different. MSU fell to the Boilermakers 77-61, dropping to 14-8 on the year.

After grabbing a one point lead three minutes into the game, the Spartans never led again. In what was almost a carbon copy matchup from when Purdue came to the Breslin two weeks ago, Zach Edey was able to score at will against Michigan State.

Offensively, Michigan State had more success in the second half, but it was too little too late. MSU’s leading scorers Tyson Walker and Joey Hauser, who had 30 and 10 two weeks ago against Purdue at home, were essentially nonexistent, scoring only nine and three, respectively. A.J. Hoggard, instead, shouldered majority of the load, offensively. However, even with some help from Jaden Akins, the whole dug by the Spartans along side Edey scoring as he pleased was too much to over come.

Here are the great, good, bad and ugly from the continued Michigan State basketball slump at Mackey Arena.

Great: Offensive shooting

Michigan State, once again, appeared slow and sluggish throughout the first half of their game on Sunday afternoon. Combine the Spartan’s offensive struggles in the first half with Edey and David Jenkins career games, Michigan State found itself down by 18 as the first half ended.

The second half was a different story, however.

Even with the first half deficit, MSU regained their offensive control, and would end up finishing the second half outscoring Purdue 39-37. Shooting 50 percent from three, the Spartans used the time that Edey was on the bench to try and make up some ground. Connecting on five straight possessions, MSU cut the Boilermaker lead to just 10 with 10 minutes left in the second half.

While the Spartans’ good shooting performance was not enough to overcome the Purdue lead, seeing some offensive firepower was a good sight to see in an otherwise extremely bleak game.

Good: A.J. Hoggard

After a slow start to the game which included back-to-back turnovers, A.J. calmed his nerves and would end up leading the Spartans in scoring.

Scoring 20 total, 14 in the second half, Hoggard gave the Spartans some life and stopped what could have been a full blowout. Hoggard connected one of his two 3-point attempts while also cashing in on seven of his nine free throws. Seeing A.J. hit his free throws after struggling from the line over the last few weeks was a good sign.

It does seem that when MSU as a whole is playing well, Hoggard does not and vice versa. Regardless, he has the ability to get our offense rolling when needed, whether he is creating for others, or cashing in himself.

Bad: Free throw shooting

What seems like a moot point given the final score, the Spartans shot just 62 percent from the charity stripe. This low percentage now marks the fifth game in a row that the Spartans shot well below their season average from the free throw line. As stated already, connecting on more free throw opportunities would most likely not have changed the outcome of Sunday’s game. It would, however, could have changed the outcome of a few games over the past few weeks.

It is not expected that Michigan State basketball shoots 90-plus percent from the free throw line, but sub 70 percent will not get it done. A.J. Hoggard spent time after the win against Iowa shooting free throws and he went seven for nine against Purdue. Hopefully others follow his lead and dedicate extra time practicing from the free throw line.

Ugly: Spartan coaching staff, gameplan

Tom Izzo said it best himself after the game. “If one player gets 70 points in two games, you can’t blame your players for that, you’ve got to blame the coach.” While it is difficult to blame the coaches because our players couldn’t stop a 7-foot-4 center, some blame must fall on them. It is part of the coaching staff’s job to game plan for specific players.

That isn’t to say they did not try.

MSU attempted to double team Edey, they tried to deny the entry pass, and at times it seemed as though they were just going to let him get his points and make the others beat them. However, none of their attempts worked, obviously. When Edey got the ball down low, he was scoring.

Scoring 32 and then 38 two weeks later should never happen at this level. Too many coaches get paid to game plan for single players and it seemed as though MSU, once again, had no idea on how to defend the Canadian big man. With that being said, it’s difficult to say the coaching game plan was the ugliest aspect of the game, especially because I’m not sure there is a correct way to defend Edey. Whatever is the most successful way of doing so, however, was not used by Michigan State basketball on Sunday afternoon.


Michigan State basketball: Way-too-early projected starting 5 for 2023-24

Next year’s team could be special.



Michigan State basketball
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball has officially entered the offseason and now it’s time to predict what next year looks like.

Markquis Nowell will go down in Michigan State basketball history as one of those forbidden names. We will no longer be mentioning the Kansas State guard as he’s now in the same group as Giddy Potts, Boo Buie, Jabari Parker, and Shabazz Napier. We’re just throwing those names out for good.

Now that we got that out of the way, we can move forward and look ahead to next season.

And next season could be special. Michigan State brings back some key players such as Jaden Akins, AJ Hoggard, Mady Sissoko, Jaxon Kohler, Carson Cooper, Tre Holloman, and potentially Pierre Brooks. However, decisions have yet to be officially made for Tyson Walker, Malik Hall, and Joey Hauser, but an elite recruiting class is coming in.

In fact, the Spartans are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in program history, led by five-star big man Xavier Booker, five-star point guard Jeremy Fears, four-star super-athlete Coen Carr, and four-star athletic sharpshooting wing Gehrig Normand.

The lineup next year should be athletic and the bench will be deep.

But what will the starting five look like, assuming that Hauser is gone? Here’s my best guess:

PG: AJ Hoggard, SR
G: Tyson Walker, SR
G: Jaden Akins, JR
F: Xavier Booker, FR
C: Mady Sissoko, SR

AJ Hoggard will be back for his senior year to lead the team at the point and he might just be the Big Ten’s best at the position. He showed against Kansas State that he can take over a game offensively and I’m looking forward to seeing him take another step in 2023-24.

For my bold prediction: I think we see Walker return. The way the season ended left a sour taste in his mouth and he became one of the best players in the Big Ten. If he gets the green light next year, he could be the Spartans’ go-to- scorer and potentially a Big Ten Player of the Year frontrunner.

Akins’ return is going to be huge for this team as well. If Walker were to leave, he’d assume the role of go-to scorer and I know he’d flourish. But he did play well in a No. 3 option role this season and he’s going to excel as the second option next season. He is the starting five’s top NBA prospect outside of Xavier Booker at the four.

Speaking of Booker, I see him sliding in as the starting power forward much like Jaren Jackson Jr. did as a true freshman. He’s a long, athletic big who can rebound and score in the post and that’s just what was missing this year. While I do think Hall returns and could play the four in a small-ball lineup, I think Tom Izzo brings him off the bench and Booker starts.

Lastly, Mady Sissoko grew a ton this season and I don’t think he’s done getting better. He had his ups and downs and showed how raw he truly was this year, but I think Izzo can mold him into a dominant defensive center. Will he be Oscar Tshiebwe down there? No, but I could see him averaging 2.0 blocks and 7.0-plus rebounds per game next season while continuing his lob-threat ability. Maybe he’ll even develop a post game on offense.

Coming off the bench would be Fears, Hall, Carr, Normand, Holloman, Cooper, and Brooks (assuming he doesn’t hit the portal).

This will be one of the deeper teams that Izzo has ever had and full lineup changes won’t completely crush momentum.

Raise your hand if you’re looking forward to next season.

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Michigan State basketball: Did Tyson Walker hint at return?

Something to monitor.



Michigan State basketball
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tyson Walker might just be teasing us, but he hinted at a return to Michigan State basketball on Instagram.

Now that Michigan State basketball is headed back home after a crushing loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16, a couple of storylines are going to dominate the offseason.

One, is Tom Izzo going to reach into the transfer portal for some help?

And two, will Tyson Walker, Joey Hauser, or Malik Hall decide to return?

The first question won’t be answered until the second one is and it feels like it’s been one-third answered. Hauser posted somewhat of a farewell on Instagram on Friday with the caption “that’s a wrap” and a green heart emoji. No one was shocked as he was the least likely to return, but it was Walker’s comment on the post that has people raising an eyebrow.

The “idk who I’m going to sit next to on the planes now” comment followed by Houser offering up Jaxon Kohler seems promising. Maybe it’s just two guys having fun with the fans, knowing that emotions are at an all-time high and we will find a way to make every word seem important.

But I’m putting stock in this. It just feels like Walker is leaning more toward coming back because he didn’t even think twice about writing that knowing that people would overreact (like myself).

And Hauser’s response makes it seem even more likely. Like he knows Walker wants to return.

Of course Walker had to post this to calm the rumor mill, but maybe he just let his intentions slip in the original post on Hauser’s Instagram post?

Maybe both guys are just messing around and both Hauser and Walker want to return along with Hall? OK, now I’m going way too far down the “what does this comment mean?” rabbit hole.

Either way, I would venture a guess of Walker returning with Hall while Hauser hangs up the green and white jersey for good.

If that’s the case, it was one heck of a career for Joey and Walker has big things ahead of him in East Lansing.

We can hope.

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Michigan State Basketball: 3 potential 2023-24 lineup options

There will be plenty of options.



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

The Michigan State basketball season came to an unfortunate end yesterday after the devastating overtime loss in the Sweet 16. But what about 2023-24?

That loss is going to sting for at least the next few months. With Tennessee losing as well, the path to the Final Four was Michigan State’s for the taking. Unfortunately, the better team won Thursday night, and it wasn’t Michigan State basketball.

With that being said, there’s a lot of hope and optimism looking forward. Along with the hope, however, comes numerous variables regarding the Spartans’ roster.

Let’s go through a few options Tom Izzo and staff can roll with, roster-wise, in 2023-24.

Option 1: Roll with the roster we have (with a returning member)

  1. A.J. Hoggard/Jeremy Fears
  2. Tyson Walker
  3. Jaden Akins/Coen Carr/Gehrig Normand
  4. Xavier Booker/Jaxon Kohler
  5. Mady Sissoko/Carson Cooper

In option one, Tyson Walker doesn’t want to leave Michigan State with the Kansas State loss looming over him and so he decides to return for one final year. One of the nation’s best guard combinations of AJ Hoggard, Tyson, and Jaden Akins run it back with more experience and more expectations.

Being that Walker returning is the main variable in this scenario rather than a transfer acquisition, Michigan State moves forward with the players and recruits already bought in.

With that being said, Michigan State basketball would be left extremely thin at the four in this scenario. This would force Xavier Booker to step up (a common theme in these scenarios), along with a possible big ball lineup, shifting Jaxon Kohler to the four. With his offensive upside shown this season, but defensive downfalls, this could actually act as a plus.

Option 2: Attack the transfer portal

  1. A.J. Hoggard/Jeremy Fears
  2. Jaden Akins
  3. Transfer Player/Pierre Brooks/Gehrig Normand
  4. Xavier Booker/Coen Carr
  5. Mady Sissoko/Jaxon Kohler

Most fans will be shouting for option two to become reality but, with Tom Izzo’s track record, it’s not as likely.

The variable for option two is Walker, Joey Hauser, and Malik Hall all electing to move on, so Izzo and Co. turn to the well that is the transfer portal. Doing so in the past has seemed to work out with Tyson, so Izzo will be looking to strike gold once again to fill the open wing position.

While there are plenty of names within the portal, the Spartans have been linked to just a few. Six-foot-6 small forward Zack Austin from High Point, 6-foot-5 shooting guard Jace Carter from UIC, and 6-foot-3 combo guard Jayden Taylor from Butler have all been contacted by MSU and would fill the three-guard/small four role well.

Still, MSU would be somewhat light at the four, so the coveted 6-foot-10 freshman Booker would find himself in the starting lineup once again.

The offense would be led by Hoggard, but run through Akins, as he’s proven to be up to the challenge

Option 3: Feed the young bucks

  1. A.J. Hoggard/Jeremy Fears
  2. Jaden Akins/Pierre Brooks
  3. Coen Carr/Gehrig Normand
  4. Xavier Booker/Jaxon Kohler
  5. Mady Sissoko/Carson Cooper

Even less likely than turning to the transfer portal, is option three.

A staple for Tom Izzo-led teams is veteran leadership. It isn’t often a freshman steps in and is given a starting role right away. Think Kalin Lucas, Miles Bridges, or Jaren Jackson Jr. to name a few who were.

In this scenario, not only do Tyson, Hauser, and Hall all move on, but the Spartans also decline to bring in any transfer players. A young starting core would pose a difficult task for Izzo, leading this to being the least likely scenario. I can see plenty of frustration from Hoggard and Akins resulting from the inexperience around them, not to mention a possible second line of Tre Holloman, Pierre Brooks, Jeremy Fears, Gehrig Normand, and Carson Cooper. While it isn’t likely this lineup would see the floor all at the same time, it’s hard to find the trusted go-to guy in that group. MSU is better off avoiding this scenario.

In all reality, Michigan State’s 2024 lineup will likely combine all three of these options. Why choose just one when the most realistic path back to the Final Four is a combination of the three? We will see.

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