In the NBA, pivotal bench-players are referred to by the phrase, “Sixth-Man” of their respective team, exemplifying their integral part of the offense that just narrowly misses out on granting them a starter’s (top five) spot. In the collegiate ranks, the name “Super-Sub” captures the commendable efforts put forth by a non-starter.
But for the Michigan State men’s basketball team, a whole new phrase is required.
Alas, I’m no dubber of nicknames (and won’t become one in the duration of writing this article). So instead of making myself out as a fool to the masses, I’ll gladly let another conceive a witty-term to summarize the team’s strength. After all, the lot of role-playing Spartans pretty much speaks for itself.
Durrell Summers, Junior Guard, 6 foot 4 inches, 195 lbs.
Summers was perhaps the most exciting player on the entire Spartan roster last season, dazzling his viewers with an array of spectacular plays, including one dunk in which he posterized UConn Huskie Stanley Robinson in a NCAA Tournament National Semifinal game.
Adding a bang to his flash was his ability to score consistently, (8.6 points per game, fourth-best on the team), and his solid shooting percentages; (.434 FG% and .385 3P%). He also shot a respectable .721 percentage from the free throw stripe.
Summers well never be confused for a lights-out shooter; his role is clearly defined as a high-energy thrasher who can on occasion hit the open-look with some sort of consistency.
But Summers’ calling card is his ability to wow crowds with his gifted athleticism and superb play-making ability.
Opposing defenders beware.
Chris Allen, Junior Guard, 6 foot 3 inches, 205 lbs.
“Sniping” shooting guard Chris Allen was a central part of the Spartans offense last season. As hinted by the nickname, he was the conventional three-point threat on the ball club.
In 38 games, Allen attempted 167 three-pointers, easily leading the team in that category. Of those heaves, he connected on 52 of them, which equated to a .311 three-point percentage. That number doesn’t sound pretty, but consider that he was an underclassman still trying to define his role on the team.
Look for Coach Tom Izzo to demand improvement in that regard this season.
In addition to the treys, Allen cemented himself as a capable scorer, tallying 8.4 PPG, good enough for fifth-best on the team. And like Summers, Allen demonstrated a reliable stroke at the line, connecting on a commendable .787 percent of the freebies.
Expect the three-point shooting barrage to continue next season, but for a far better percentage to follow.
Draymond Green, Sophomore Forward, 6 foot 6 inches, 235 lbs.
“Big Baby” Draymond Green was a fantastic sub for the Men in Green last season. In addition to providing Raymar Morgan and Delvon Roe with a breather, Green made his presence on the floor felt with a plethora of personal fouls, illustrating his willingness to bang down low with opposing bigs.
As well as being involved defensively, Green also contributed admirably on the offensive side of the ball.
In just over 11 minutes of playing time per game last year, Green averaged over three points and three rebounds per night. However, his most impressive stat by far was his monstrous field goal percentage (.556; second best on team). Granted, most of those shots were from within five feet of the basket, but you can’t fault the big man for having an unfailing touch down low.
From the line, Green converted on a respectable .615 percent of his shots, further displaying his soft-touch.
While this super-sub won’t always overpower the opposition with muscle, his versatility is sure to leave them worn-out and frustrated.
Korie Lucious, Sophomore Guard, 5 feet 11 inches, 170 lbs.
Sophomore Korie Lucious was a sensational player for the Spartans last season, exhilarating fans and frustrating opponents with his blazing speed and soft, silky shot.
His PPG totals were hardly impressive, (just over three per contest) but you have to be mindful of the fact that he only played five-to-ten minutes per game.
And if you look at the glass as half “full”, you will notice a developing floor general capable of making the three-point shot, (.354 percent on 82 attempts). Additionally, in three games against number one overall seeds in the NCAA Tournament, he netted 20 points in the 28 minutes that he played in.
That equates to nearly 29 points per 40 minutes.
Such stats show that Lucious is truly capable of accomplishing on the college level.
Lucious may be the most raw on this list in terms of actual development, but there is no doubt that his skills and overall understanding of the game will improve under the tutelage of star-guard Kalin Lucas.
Wrapping it up
On a team possessing an already phenomenal starting-lineup, you would think that the subs would be an inconsequential piece of their team. But when those starters sit down to take a rest, it’s reassuring to know that the production won’t suffer one bit.
Stats obtained from espn.com, msuspartans.com, and the onlycolors.com