MSU men’s basketball opened the regular season last Friday against Navy in Annapolis, Maryland. While the Spartans enjoyed the hospitality of the Midshipmen during the week, the actual game was anything but a polite affair.
The Spartans squeaked out a 64-59 victory.
While Izzo’s squad possessed a notable size advantage, they only out-rebounded the Midshipmen by a margin of 38-30. Travis Trice scored a career high 25 points and Branden Dawson chipped in 12 points. None of the other Spartan starters scored in double figures, with Denzel Valentine scoring five points and Matt Costello with six.
Alvin Ellis left the game with an ankle injury, putting more pressure on an already thin rotation.
The Spartans have an early season battle coming against the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils this Tuesday in Indianapolis. If the Spartan hoop squad hopes to get a win they need a much stronger showing from the starters and solid production from the bench.
Valentine and Dawson need to step up and deliver points and rebounds for the Spartans. Valentine chipped in three rebounds against Navy; this number must be higher if the Spartans hope to win. His six assists were definitely helpful for the win though. Valentine must become a glue guy for the team this year, a sort of Swiss army knife player.
The key position to watch Tuesday will be the center spot. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor is regarded as the new prized possession on the Duke team. Costello and Gavin Schilling must step up to guard Okafor. If they cannot limit his time on the low block and post, it will be a long night for Tom Izzo.
Tune in this Tuesday at 7 p.m. to watch the Spartans go up against the Blue Devils.
Nick Carver is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports
Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports