Senior Tum Tum Nairn and Sophomore Miles Bridges 2017-2018 Team Captains (Kirtmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
Michigan State men’s basketball team started the season ranked #2 in the country. Hoping to build on last season’s disappointments with star forward Miles Bridges coming back for another year, the Spartans are projected as an early favorite to take home the National Championship this year. Adding freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. to go along with returning sophomores Nick Ward and Cassius Winston, Michigan State has a promising young cast with the guidance of seniors Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr, Gavin Schilling and Ben Carter.
The team encountered an early test against the Duke Blue Devils, the #1 team in the country, where they fell 88-81. The game was a true battle and they both proved themselves deserving of being named the two best teams in the country. Within the final minutes of the game, Duke proved to be too much. Despite the letdown, the team only dropped down to the #4 spot.
With only one loss this season thus far, the Spartans have started off strong going 5-1 and winning the PK80 tournament in Portland, Oregon. The tournament victory includes an impressive win over a top-10 team in the North Carolina Tar Heels. Michigan State held North Carolina to their worst shooting performance ever in school history, while taking a double-digit victory 63-45. Michigan State was able to hold North Carolina’s best scorers under their averages and showcased their dominance on defense. Although they didn’t have the best game offensively, the team was still able to create important runs when they needed them the most.
While every win has been a blowout victory for the Spartans, there is still room for improvement. Offensively, the team still has work that needs to be done. Turnovers have been a major factor, as they average 16.5 per game so far. The team has been casually handling the ball and it can be seen on the floor. On the other hand, their defense has been another story. Defensively, the Spartans haven’t been able to hold opponents to an average of 33% shooting from the field. On the defensive side, Michigan State appears to be a force to be reckoned with. If the Spartans can flip the switch on the offensive end, they will be a very tough team to beat.
At the end of the day, the success of Michigan State comes down to how well the team is able to work together. Fans know the potential of the Michigan State Spartans and we have been able to see glimpses of that in games against Duke and North Carolina. Another key factor is if Miles Bridges can become the superstar he has the potential of becoming. Coming off an ankle injury, he is still regaining the confidence and strength he had once before. The start of the season has been great for the Spartans, only time will tell if they can keep the momentum rolling.
Article written by: Dervon Thompson