Top 3 Changes MSU Basketball Needs to Make

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There was no better time to be a Spartan than last year. The Michigan State basketball team made their first Final Four appearance since 2010, just a couple months after the football team captured the Cotton Bowl over Baylor 42-41 in thrilling fashion.

After a crushing 81-61 loss to the Duke Blue Devils in the 2015 National Semifinals, the Spartans regroup by narrowing their sights to one simple goal: winning the national championship.

Last year, one of the most interesting Tom Izzo squads had a culmination of youth and raw talent and their ability to reach the Final Four last year can only be described as shocking.

However, all teams are far from perfect. Even teams like Duke and North Carolina have weak points that they need to fix. Each game, fans held their breath, hoping the Spartans wouldn’t fall victim to a recurring set of problems.. Here are a few areas that the Spartans need to clean up in order to make a national championship run:

1. Free Throws

Yes I know, we all saw this one coming. Sparty only made 63 percent of its free throws last season, ranked as one of the least efficient free throw teams in the nation. This was a crucial indicator why they lost many close contests.

Denzel Valentine (83 percent from the line) and Bryn Forbes (81 percent) were the only consistent reliable guys you could count on to rise to the occasion, especially when State was desperate for points.

If more players step up along with Valentine and Forbes, this area could become one of their primary strengths.

2. Handling Center Stage

The spotlight will be shining on MSU brighter than ever before, which can be helpful or harmful factor depending on how the Spartans respond.

Prior football and basketball teams were prone to complacency coming off of successful seasons. This would usually result in the clubs falling short of expectations.

Many factors are looking up, however, with the senior leadership of Valentine, Forbes, and Matt Costello. MSU needs to continue to play with chip on its shoulder like they usually do, regardless of the rankings and the media hype.

3. Limiting Turnovers

Just like free throws, turnovers were another issue that ultimately cost the Spartans many games. They averaged just over 11 turnovers per game, largely due to high tempo offense.

In this coast-to-coast scheme, the abrupt tempo forced players to make rash decisions. Several of these impulsive choices led to ill-advised turnovers by making careless passes or throwing up questionable shots.

The Spartans like to go too fast, and understand that Izzo wants to catch the opposing defense napping and out of position. But at the end of the day, the main objective for the offensive unit is to get off the best possible shot before the shot clock strikes zero.
Hopefully, Izzo can integrate more patience and development into the offense by slowing down the tempo just a little bit. The Spartans need to find a precise pace that will result in restricted turnovers, setting up the offense to their advantage and having an efficient shot selection.