One take away from the Michigan State vs. Purdue game was Branden Dawson's ability to turn it on when he wants to. While the freshman has the talent and skill set to play at the next level, it can be a struggle to get him to consistently play with passion.
Michigan State may have found the way, however, in the game against Purdue.
Dawson really seemed to get fired up when he was engaged in talking trash to Purdue, including head coach Matt Painter. Dawson may believe he has something to prove to everyone once people start talking to him on the court.
It'd be a huge advantage for MSU to get Dawson motivated and fired up during games because his production is key for the Spartans to go deep in the NCAA tournament.
Personally, I'm not a fan of talking trash on the court or field. It's not my style, but for certain players it works. One player it works for is Dawson's teammate, senior forward Draymond Green.
If you ever watch MSU games, you'll see Green's mouth running from warm-ups to after the game. He never stops. It's part of his game to get inside the heads of his opponents and frustrate them.
Green should give Dawson a trash-talking session because Dawson sure did get fired up after talking. The Michigan State freshman finished with a team-high 14 points and added a few big slams just for good measure.
Spartans fans have been confused with some of Dawson's performances this season. He is so talented and has such athletic ability, but Dawson is often lost on the defensive side of the ball.
If Dawson is fired up and engaged with the player he is guarding, though, maybe he will put in more effort and focus on the defensive end to contain his man.
It happened against Purdue. Dawson was alert on defense, and he stole a pass and raced down the court all by himself for a tomahawk jam.
Sparking the fire within Dawson is a big key for the rest of the season for MSU. Michigan State's opponents may be holding the gasoline to start the fire.