Michigan State Basketball: 3 Players Who Will Play Larger Roles for the Spartans
Draymond Green is gone, but there are many Michigan State players who can fill his shoes. Tom Izzo has a team that is deep, talented and experienced. Every player will be given the chance to "step up."
It won't be just starters. The depth that Izzo will appropriate throughout the regular season will give each player the same opportunity to impress.
Who will take advantage?
Who will play a larger role for the Spartans next year?
These are my top three candidates for larger roles for Coach Izzo next season. They'll be seeing more playing time in 2012-13 compared to last year, as well as increased responsibility on the court.
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Keith Appling is a clear choice for this list. He's been under the public eye for each of his two seasons at Michigan State. His talents have been highly-touted and he was known to be studying under Kalin Lucas, but he gained the most attention when he took over the role of starting point guard when Korie Lucious was dismissed from the team.
Now, the leadership skills that point-forward Draymond Green possessed are gone. Appling will see an increased amount of usage on the offensive end of the floor, and the Spartan offense will likely run through him on the outside.
Hopefully, Appling will be playing more shooting guard this season, removing some of the burden of bringing the ball up the floor. A decrease in turnovers should be expected of Appling next season.
If Appling can bring back his ability to knock down three-pointers at a high rate from his freshman year, he'll be a leading scorer for Michigan State.
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At 20 minutes per game last season, Branden Dawson was very effective. He averaged over eight points and four rebounds per game last season in those limited minutes.
But Dawson struggled shooting the ball, making only 59.4 percent of his free-throw attempts and not making a three-point shot the entire season.
The latter is not as pressing as the former. Dawson is a beast on the offensive glass, and trips to the foul line are inevitable. If he expects to play more minutes for Coach Izzo, he'll have to hit his free throws.
With that said, Dawson is ready to play a larger role next season. He'll join Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne to compose one of the biggest frontcourts in the Big Ten next season.
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If anyone is ready to play a larger role in the backcourt beside Keith Appling, it's Travis Trice.
Trice has experience that newcomers like Denzel Valentine and Gary Harris don't have. Harris will likely start based on pure ability, but Trice will be a valuable guard off the bench.
His facilitating skills improved greatly throughout the 2011-12 year. In his last eight games, Trice amassed 10 assists to just two turnovers. Compare that to the first eight games of the season (15 turnovers, 13 assists), and you can see a significant improvement in taking care of the ball.
Unlike Appling and Dawson, Trice was solid from three-point range last season. He shot 40.5 percent from deep last year, good for second on the team for players who shot more that two three-point shots.
If Trice continues to shoot well from the outside and can cut down on turnovers, he'll be a valuable bench player next season.