Players adapt, settle in new roles as season rolls forward for MSU

Thomas Kithier, Marcus Bingham Jr. among second year standouts for the No. 3-ranked Spartans.

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Malik Hall plays defense on Kentucky's Ashton Hagans during the Champions Classic. (Credit: Tommy Massa / RedCedarLog)

Aidan Champion, Sports Reporter

EAST LANSING — Playing time was granted to a number of Spartans in No. 3-ranked Michigan State’s massive home opening victory over Binghamton. With new faces seeing the floor and up-and-coming players gaining vital minutes in just the second game of the season, it was a promising night for a Michigan State team that is very reliant on its bench.

It is without question that one of Michigan State’s biggest strengths this season is its rotation depth. 

With the impact of injuries, the loss of key assets to graduation and experience from last season’s Final Four squad, various Spartans have been called into bigger roles as the early stage of the season progresses.

Sophomore forwards, Thomas Kithier and Marcus Bingham Jr. both achieved career-highs in points on Sunday night, as the two second year Spartans have stepped into valuable positions with the current roster. 

Coach Izzo agreed both players have improved in their roles.

“I think Marcus has really improved a lot,” Izzo said. “I think Kithier is making improvements. He’s kind of the solid Kenny Goins type – doesn’t do anything real flashy, just does his job. Those two are gonna have to play better this week because this team (Seton Hall) is big, physical and tough.”

Kithier has become a consistent starter at the forward position this season. As the minutes have increased, his place as a starter has begun to settle in.

Credit: Tommy Massa / RedCedarLog

“I think every game, you know, you just get a little bit more comfortable,” Kithier said. “On top of that, getting chemistry with different guys. Sometimes I didn’t get to play a lot with them last year … being on scout team. So, I just think it’s every day, you’re just getting a little bit more comfortable in the system.”

The Spartans will look to continue to grow when they face their second ranked opponent, No. 12 Seton Hall, in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m as a part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games between the Big East and the Big Ten conferences.

You can follow Aidan Champion on Twitter @champion_aidan