Michigan State shows room for improvement in exhibition win over Grand Valley State


Michigan State men’s basketball point guard Tyson Walker shoots the game-winning 3-pointer against Purdue at the Breslin Center on Feb. 26, 2022/Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Liam Jackson, Sports Editor

EAST LANSING – Michigan State had its hands full in an exhibition game against Grand Valley State on Tuesday. The Spartans beat the Lakers 73-56, pulling away in the second half.

“I am very disappointed and I’ll call out almost every player,” said head coach Tom Izzo after the game.

Izzo couldn’t help but smile though when he talked about how much work needs to be done before the season.

“I promise you this will give me something to coach tomorrow,” Izzo said behind a little smirk.

While this is not the first scrimmage MSU has played this year, it is the first played in front of any fans or media. The Spartans recently traveled to Tennessee to play the Volunteers in a “secret scrimmage” prior to Tuesday’s game.

The Lakers put up an unexpected fight and had the Spartans on their toes most of the game. MSU was trailing 36-31 at the half and did not begin to put the game away until midway through the second half.

Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, Joey Hauser, Malik Hall and Mady Sissoko were Michigan State’s starters.

The first half was filled with turnovers and shots that missed the mark badly for the Spartans. Hauser looked a bit uncomfortable. He missed both his three-point attempts and picked up three first-half fouls.

“Joey’s been our best player since the summer,” Izzo said. “He didn’t look like he was in sync like he had been. I think he will bounce back.”

Walker was a bright spot for MSU all night. He started alongside Hoggard and played off the ball next to him for most of the game. However, it’s his defense that really bothers opponents. Walker recorded six steals and two blocks. Izzo said he played harder and better than anyone on Tuesday night.

The center position is something to monitor as the season progresses. Sissoko got the start in the exhibition game and made the most of the opportunity. He was a perfect 4-4 from the field and scored 11 points to go along with six rebounds in 21 minutes. 

The game may not count toward the record, Izzo was already in mid-season form. In the second half, Hoggard drove and was called for a charge. Izzo disagreed and let the officials know what he thought. He was yelling and punching his hand before being assessed a technical foul. 

Freshman Jaxon Kohler was the first player off the bench for Izzo. He had a good second half, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds. Izzo mentioned Kohler as one of the only bright spots in the game and said he brought a lot of energy.

“I told myself to remember this moment because this is the first stepping stone through a long journey that’s ahead of me,” Kohler said.

Hoggard was one of the best lead initiators in college basketball last season. He had the highest assist percentage in the country and put pressure on opposing defenses with his ability in transition and driving. On Tuesday he showed a more refined three-point shot and made two of his three attempts from deep.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of hours,” Hoggard said. “Nobody sees the work I do late at night and early in the morning. Trusting in my work and confidence played a big part in my shooting tonight.”

The regular season begins for MSU on Nov. 7 at home against Northern Arizona. After that, the schedule features four straight games versus ranked opponents.

“We’ve got our work cut out, so now it’s back to the lab,” Izzo said. “My favorite place to go.”