Michigan State Basketball: EMU win answered some preseason questions

Joshua Langford, Michigan State basketball Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua Langford, Michigan State basketball Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Michigan State basketball won its first matchup of the season against a tough Eastern Michigan team. Watching the game, some questions have been answered.

Michigan State kicked off its 2020-21 campaign with a home win against Eastern Michigan.

Coming into the game, there were many questions that needed to be answered. Who would take over Cassius Winston’s spot? How would Joshua Langford look in his first game back since 2018? Would Joey Hauser step right in and take Xavier Tillman’s role over? Would those pesky turnovers that have plagued the Spartans the last few years be back to haunt them once again or would they have them figured out?

Some of the most important questions have been answered — at least temporarily.

Who would take the role of Cassius Winston over this year?

Would it be Rocket Watts or Foster Loyer? In this game from beginning to end, Loyer looked like a whole new player. He was hitting his shots, he was distributing the ball to his teammates and he was protecting the rock. He didn’t do many things wrong on Wednesday. Some might say he came out of this game looking like a Drew Neitzel-type player.

If he can keep this play up throughout the season, he will be deserving of taking Winston’s role. He has some big shoes to fill and it’s not his yet. Eastern Michigan played in a zone defense all night and so he needs to prove he can continue this level of play when someone is guarding him man-to-man. He needs to prove he can create space for himself and still get those shots up in every game he plays.

Watts did not live up to the potential but it is not totally lost yet. He is a shooting combo guard transitioning to take over as more of a point guard role. Last year, most of his time was working off the ball and going around screens and getting the ball in his hands to make a play. Now he has to learn how to lead the offense with the ball in his hands.

There were many times when he had the ball and he turn the ball over with some errant passes or too much dribbling. Some of that will come with time of playing on the court again. He will continue to get on the same page as his teammates and some of this team rust will wear off. He, however, has to improve in many aspects and that can happen. He started slow last season and turned it on at the end of the season.

This can still happen but hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.

How would Joshua Langford look in his first game back?

Joshua Langford is back! He looked good for the first time in a game scenario since December of 2018. He was rusty, struggling to find his stroke that he had as a junior but he looked good overall. It was encouraging to the fans watching him that he was back on the court. We all have wanted him since he went down and he will boost the rest of the team.

Langford, while on the court, was moving well, making back cuts and slashing to the basket. He was also moving well on defense. He was elevating well getting rebounds and trying to shake the rust off of his jump shot.

Would Joey Hauser step right in and take over Tillman’s spot?

Joey Hauser had high expectations. He did not come in right away and perform to those expectations, however. He started the first half slow. It appeared he had some nerves coming into the game. He knew there were these high expectations and played like he had these nerves and he was not always on the same page as his teammates. Thinking they were cutting one way when they were going the other causing some turnovers throughout the game.

All of this will get better as the season progresses and he gets more time on the court with his team. He was showing glimpses of what he can do with running the court and making cuts for the slam. Once this team gets rolling, it will be hard to stop.

Will those pesky turnovers continue to be an issue?

Over the last few seasons, the Spartans have been turning the ball over too much, averaging 14-17 turnovers a game. Fans were wondering if that was going to be an issue again this season and if Wednesday’s game was any indication then these Spartans will have to continue trying to solve this problem.

Throughout the game, there were many cases where teammates were not on the same page. They were thinking their teammate was going one and and made arrant passes directly to the bench. They were dribbling into heavy traffic and losing control of the ball. Passes were too high and the bigs could not corral the pass.

There were a couple of times as well to where they did not have the floor vision and just stepped out of bounds and did not pass the ball quick enough.

The turnovers are not gone for the Spartans but this team is more than capable of figuring out how to turn it around and not turn the ball over so much.

This team can be a very deadly team once it figures the turnovers out. They also have a lot of pieces that will start to come together as they get more playing time together.

Joey Hauser will eventually live up to those high expectations he had coming onto this team. Watts will be able to provide quality time at the point guard position and Loyer will be a more than capable shooter if he can keep up his play from this game.

Look out, Big Ten — and the rest of the college basketball universe — because the Spartans are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Next. 3 takeaways from MSU's win over Eastern Michigan. dark