Connect with us


Michigan State Basketball: Report card for third quarter of 2022-23

Yeah, these grades aren’t so great.



Michigan State basketball
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Here are grades for each positional group from the third quarter of the 2022-23 Michigan State basketball season.

Continuing the rollercoaster trend of a season for Michigan State basketball, the Spartans struggled throughout January and February. While this stretch of Big Ten play was admittedly difficult, MSU came up short in far too many of these matchups.

With rankings at the time of this article, Michigan State played unranked Illinois, No. 1 Purdue twice, No. 24 Rutgers twice, No. 18 Indiana, unranked Iowa, and unranked Maryland.

It wasn’t pretty at times, and as such, the grades for each position have regressed from the midway point of the season. If it weren’t for a late victory against Maryland earlier this week, their grades would be even worse.

So, here are grades for each positional group from the third quarter of the Michigan State basketball season.

Guards: B+

As has been the story all season, Michigan State continued to be propelled by guard play throughout the third quarter of the season. After being benched earlier in the season, A.J. has been both great and then horrible at times. Aside from a zero-turnover outing against Indiana, Hoggard has struggled mightily with turnovers. Even with his often impressive scoring and assist stat lines, his turnovers hurt this team much more.

Jaden Akins and Tyson Walker both have had a great stretch of season, just at different times. Walker opened the third quarter with impressive showings, including his 30-point game against Purdue. He looked untouchable at times against the No. 1 team in the country. As Walker began to cool off, Akins started hitting his stride, scoring in double figures against Rutgers, Indiana, Iowa, and Purdue. If the two of them can align their top performances, MSU will be hard to beat.

Freshmen Pierre Brooks and Tre Holloman have both continued to be used sparingly. While Holloman has continued to struggle with shooting confidence, Brooks has still never seen a shot he didn’t like. Unfortunately, offense from both guards is non-existent outside the Pierre against Rutgers on Saturday. Brooks’ shooting ability is there, but he must get out of this intense slump if he is going to contribute off the bench in March.

All in all, the guards get a B+ for the third quarter of the season, mostly uplifted by Tyson and Jaden. If Tyson continues to be a top guard in this league, Hoggard can tame his turnovers, and Brooks can settle his 3-point shooting, they can easily be bumped into the ‘A’ territory.

Forwards: B-

Unfortunately for the Spartan forwards, Malik Hall was again held to just four of the eight games covering this stretch of season. Reaggravating his injured foot against Illinois, Hall was forced to sit out half of that matchup, as well as the Purdue, Rutgers, and Indiana games. At this point, Malik has not been able to get into any sort of offensive groove due to his prolonged absences. Shooting just 39 percent from the field and averaging just over 6.4 points per game over this third quarter of the season for the senior captain is a direct result of this time on and off.

As for Joey, we saw a more balanced attack over this eight-game period. While he did give up his position as leading scorer to Tyson Walker, Hauser scored in double figures in all but one game, including his 20-point outing on Tuesday against Maryland. That said, only two of those double-figure showings were above 13 points. Michigan State will need the sixth-year senior to come closer to 15-plus points per game if he is to lead this team. Another performance such as the one he had against Purdue with just three points cannot happen.

The Spartan forwards are the veterans on this team. More consistency will be needed from them heading into tournament time. They came dangerously close to the C range over this third quarter.

Centers: C-

The Big Ten has some of the most elite big men in the country and, unfortunately, Michigan State does not fall in that category. The Spartans were dominated down low multiple times throughout this season. Defensively, Zach Edey and Trayce Jackson-Davis both had career days against the MSU centers, Edey having outings of 32 and 38 points and TJD putting up 31.

Offensively, Mady Sissoko had a slightly better stretch but it was Jaxon Kohler who proved to be the better offensive weapon. Kohler had a career-high of 12 against Rutgers and followed that up with nine against Indiana. He is still working through freshman issues such as defense and consistency but has played himself into the starting conversation.

As it has been all season, this will be one of the most significant threats to the Spartans this season.

Coaching: C

Along with the players, the coaching has also struggled after having a good start to the season. We saw, at the midway point in the season, the lack of an above-average center was beginning to hinder the success of this team. The third quarter of the season only furthered that. When asked about playing time, Tom Izzo said that he wished he had another option than playing so many players 30-plus minutes every night. Izzo and the staff did, however, leave three scholarships unused this season. It’s coaching decisions like these that don’t have immediate effects on the team but will always impact their success down the line.

The combination of coaching decisions over the offseason coming to a head, as well as an apparent lack of game planning against top-tier Big Ten players such as Jackson-Davis and Edey decreased the overall grade for Izzo and his coaching staff.

Overall: C

Unfortunately, the Spartans have fallen flat in the direst stretch of the season. Michigan State basketball went from safely in the tournament to a borderline double-digit seeded team. From competing for a Big Ten Championship to being just about out of the conversation entirely, sitting at eighth in the conference.

With only the final quarter of the season remaining, the Spartans must right the ship before it is too late.

Michigan State finishes the season with just one ranked opponent remaining. They most recently took down one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten in Maryland, so the momentum is there for the taking. MSU must correct the mistakes across the board and attempt to gather whatever strength they can heading into March.


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.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading