Now that Michigan State's head basketball coach Tom Izzo has dismissed troubled shooting-guard Chris Allen, the Spartans are forced to devise a new game plan, on both sides of the ball, going into 2010-11.
Allen was relieved of his duties as a Spartan on Monday. With one of the top recruiting classes in the nation poised to make a run at the national title, led by Izzo's savvy veterans, the question of who will fill Allen's role must be addressed.
Perhaps the prize of this year's incoming-crop of talent, and suitable replacement for Allen, is Michigan's Mr. Basketball, Keith Appling.
The former Detroit Pershing star is known for his slashing, speedy ball-handling skills . What is not known is if he will be the reliable defender that Allen was. Allen had the ability to single-handedly put the clamps on even the fastest of guards. He was also physical enough to guard forwards if needed.
Appling doesn't have Allen's size. The four-star recruit, weighs in at approximately 170 pounds and stands 6'1". Allen has been weighed at 205, and has two inches on Appling, at 6'3".
Size is something that will come to Appling, as he will likely put on his freshman-15, and be subjected to rigorous workouts. By his sophomore year, Appling could bulk up to nearly 190 pounds.
Appling was expected to get a share of Allen's playing time, regardless of Allen's status with the team. It now looks as if he will be splitting duties with the vastly improved, both offensively and defensively, junior-to-be Korie Lucious.
A starting lineup could look something like this:
Point guard: Lucas
Shooting guard: Appling/Lucious. Both are capable of carrying the load, as is the versatile Durrell Summers. Like Lucious, Appling could take on double-duty and play the point if called upon.
Small forward: Summers
Power forward: Draymond Green. Green has slimmed down to 231. His original goal was 235. Shedding a few pounds will make for a few more trips down the court. Dion Sims will be a viable option, at least on paper, to rest Green.
Sims will play basketball this season. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound sophomore-to-be joined the team late last year because of the Spartans' bowl game. By all accounts, he's ready to hit the hardwood.
Izzo said in February: "(Sims) loves basketball, and I don't think there's any question that he'll be back."
And not to discount Delvon Roe, but his knees have been a well-documented problem since his arrival in East Lansing, and the starting role might be where Izzo decides to utilize the Ohio native. However, expect Roe to clock 20 minutes per game.
Center: Derrick Nix/Garrick Sherman. Nix came into East Lansing with a reported weight of 285. Whether or not that was accurate, he said he wants to drop to 270.
Nix's conditioning showed as the 2009-10 season progressed, as he appeared less winded when running from end to end.
Michigan State has a solid bench that could be a starting lineup at other schools. When the talent on the pine is factored in, there should be no worries about who's coming in for who.
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