Michigan State Basketball: Post play needs major improvement

Xavier Tillman, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Xavier Tillman, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

After struggling against Indiana down low, it’s evident that Michigan State basketball needs vast improvement in the post.

Weeks removed from a dominant performance against Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn and decent showing against Michigan’s Jon Teske, Michigan State has struggled mightily in the post.

Michigan State held its own against Daniel Oturu and Minnesota as well as Wisconsin, but poor performances against Indiana and Purdue in the post have led to a couple of losses. On both ends of the court, the Spartans have been fairly average.

Especially offensively, the Spartans have had very little success. Gone are the days when Michigan State could just dump it to Nick Ward or Jaren Jackson Jr. in the post and have them back down the defender and finish with a move toward the hoop or a baby hook. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do just that with the pieces in place on this team, but there’s not enough of it.

Tom Izzo has even admitted that they don’t get it in the post enough to Xavier Tillman and Marcus Bingham Jr.

While Bingham Jr. doesn’t have the strength or weight to bang down low, he needs to work on his moves to make up for it. He can’t be standing on the perimeter all game long and looking for a kick-out from Tillman or one of the driving guards. He needs to be able to post up and use his length to score around the basket. That post scoring is lacking.

Tillman had gotten better in this regard throughout the year, but he still isn’t completely polished. He excels in the pick-and-roll offense, slipping to the basket for easy buckets or kick-outs, but he needs to do more posting up.

Cassius Winston, Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown and Rocket Watts can only do so much hunting for their owns shots and they need some help from the post.

Defensively, too, the Spartans must lock down opposing bigs. Thomas Kithier has struggled a bit in this regard this season which is disappointing because he was supposed to be a key defensive piece, but Malik Hall has stepped up.

Bingham Jr., however, has been bullied a bit like he was against Trevion Williams and Trayce Jackson-Davis. He even stumbled a bit against Joey Brunk.

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If Michigan State is going to make a run in March, or even for a Big Ten title, the post play must improve and that starts with feeding the post and forcing teams to respect the Spartans in the paint.