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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 4th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Michigan State Spartans


Overall Rank: #36

Conference Rank: #5 Big Ten


2005-06: 22-12, 8-8, 6th (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


Michigan State could realistically finish anywhere from third to ninth in the Big Ten.  With three NBA draft picks headed out, there are tons of question marks surrounding the Spartans.  However, this isnít the first time that Coach Tom Izzoís squad has appeared depleted and still managed to compete with the best teams in the conference.


Whoís Out: The absence of wings Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown and center Paul Davis definitely leave some holes to be filled in the scoring department.  That trio averaged between 17.2 and 19.3 points per game each and the next highest total was only 8.3.  Walk-ons Anthony Hamo and Jason Aerts have run out of eligibility.  Forward Matt Trannon isnít expected to join the basketball squad this year after averaging 4.6 points and 4.3 rebounds as a junior.  The wide receiver would instead concentrate on his future in the NFL.  Fellow forward Delco Rowley wonít return to East Lansing after seeing limited minutes last year.


Whoís In: Itís not a big group of freshmen, but it is a very talented one.  Raymar Morgan may be starting from November.  The 6-7 forward doesnít have a good perimeter shot, but his intangibles, hustle and pure athleticism will keep him on the floor.  Isaiah Dahlmanís role on the team got a lot bigger when Brown left early for the NBA.  The 6-6 small forward has a nice mid-range game and the lefty will be asked to fill in some important minutes off the bench.  Center Tom Herzog has the potential to eventually become a big time post player.  For the time being, the 7-foot Flint, Michigan native will add a presence on the defensive end while he continues to work on his offense and get stronger. 


Who to Watch: Drew Neitzel is the returning leader in scoring with 8.3 points per game.  The junior point guard has the potential to score a lot more than that now that his team needs him to.  The shooting guard spot is where the Spartans run into problems.  Travis Walton had an impressive campaign and is a great defender.  Walton, another point guard, doesnít have much of an outside shot, so if both Neitzel and Walton are starting, Neitzel may act more like a shooting guard.  Maurice Joseph saw very limited minutes as a freshman and was not very impressive when he was in the game.  If MoJo can pick up his game for his sophomore campaign, it will ease the scoring pains that are worrying Spartan fans during the offseason.


Final Projection: The frontcourt lacks proven scorers as well, but there is plenty of potential with Marquise Gray, Goran Suton and Idong Ibok.  Gray was supposed to be the answer at power forward last year, but averaged just 3.0 points and 3.6 rebounds as a freshman.  Suton, despite worse numbers with 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, was the more effective option most of the time.  While not a banger under the basket like Gray, Suton showed plenty of hustle and potential during the 2005-2006 campaign.  Ibok isnít expected to see too many minutes, but the Spartans could use some more depth if Ibok can become something more than a project big man.  Drew Naymick started the first seven games last year before going down with an injury.  The 6-10 center will probably be penciled in for the starting center job in the fall, but he may be relegated to the bench by the time the season gets underway.  Itís tough to bet against a winner like Coach Izzo, but this might be the year to do it.  The Spartans havenít missed the NCAA Tournament since 1997, yet that streak might end here.  If Morgan and Dahlman can handle the small forward spot and Joseph becomes a decent option off the bench, the Spartans can and will continue their streak. 


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

Drew Neitzel, Junior, Guard, 8.3 points per game

Travis Walton, Sophomore, Guard, 1.8 points per game

Raymar Morgan, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

Marquise Gray, Sophomore, Forward, 3.0 points per game

Drew Naymick, Junior, Center, 1.1 points per game

37 Missouri St Ľ Complete List Ľ 35 Xavier

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