The loss to Connecticut Friday evening was disheartening. Starting the year against a seemingly lesser opponent, on a national stage, the Spartans wanted a win. That didn’t happen. Still there are both positive and negative takeaways from the game for Michigan State basketball moving forward.
1.) Branden Dawson is back. Easily the best Spartan on the floor, Dawson returned from injury on a mission. The Spartans leading scorer with 15 points, Dawson was all over the floor. Full of energy on both offense and defense, Dawson looked fully healthy. With a couple extremely athletic plays, Spartan fans can get excited about having a healthy Dawson all year.
2.) The Spartans need more from Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix. If the Spartans are to be successful, their big men need to step up. Often beat to loose balls, more hustle is a must from both guys. Both looked slow making moves in the post. Spartans fans must be wondering what happened to the quick, powerful Nix they saw at the later parts of last year.
3.) Gary Harris will be a major contributor. Yes, it was his first game and there were hiccups, but Harris impressed. Demanding the ball, Harris was unafraid to take his shot.
Though he didn’t shoot particularly well, Harris showed confidence by continuing to hoist. Look for a lot more of those 3 pointers to drop and Harris to be a great scorer in the coming year.
4.) Shabazz Napier can ball. After his disappointing sophomore season, Napier came out firing on all cylinders. Shooting 50 percent, and scoring a game high 25 points, Napier showed why he had such a fantastic freshman season. Willing to chuck from whenever, wherever, Napier performed on the national stage.
5.) It’s early and Spartan fans should not panic. It was the first game of the season in an unfamiliar setting. The Spartans didn’t perform well, but they start notoriously slow. With Harris and Dawson coming into the fold, it may take the Spartans a while to figure things out. Before pushing the panic button, Spartan fans should take solace in the deep talented squad Michigan State basketball appears to have.