Oct. 30, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
November 1, 2009
4 p.m. EST
East Lansing, Mich.
Radio: Spartan Sports Network - Will Tieman (Play by Play),
Gus Ganakas & Matt Steigenga (Color). Flagship - WJIM 1240 AM
Web Stream: BigTenNetwork.com - Watch live streaming video on your computer at www.bigtennetwork.com. There is a fee of $2.99 per game. Order Video
Tickets: A limited number of tickets are currently on sale for Michigan State's exhibition opener on Sunday against Northwood at 4 p.m. Buy Tickets
Scouting The Spartans
Michigan State returns three starters and seven of its top nine scorers from a squad that posted a 31-7 record and advanced to the 2009 National Championship game at the Final Four in Detroit. The Spartans' returning starters include senior Raymar Morgan, a preseason candidate for the John R. Wooden Award, junior Kalin Lucas, the 2009 Big Ten Player of the Year, and Delvon Roe, a 2009 Big Ten All-Freshman Team honoree. In total, MSU returns seven players who averaged at least nine minutes last year.
Scouting The Timberwolves
Northwood returns six players that saw game action in 2008-09, including its two leading scorers, senior guard Chris Johnson and senior forward Lionel Sullivan. Johnson averaged 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, while Sullivan averaged 11.1 points and 6.9 boards. The Timberwolves posted a 13-15 record last season, including a 9-13 mark in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Northwood is coached by Bob Taylor, now in his 13th season. Among Taylor's previous stops, he was head coach of Oakland's women's basketball team, where current MSU women's coach Suzy Merchant served as his top assistant for three seasons.
Big Ten Favorites
After winning the 2009 Big Ten regular-season title by four games, Michigan State was selected as the preseason conference favorite for the 2009-10 men's basketball season, as voted upon by a 24-member media panel. Purdue and Ohio State were chosen to finish second and third, respectively. Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Kalin Lucas was tabbed as Preseason Player of the Year.
The Michigan State men's basketball team is ranked second in the 2009-10 Associated Press Preseason Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Preseason Poll, both of which were released Thursday, Oct. 29. Seven of MSU's opponents are ranked, including Texas (No. 3 AP/No. 3 ESPN), North Carolina (No. 6/4), Purdue (No. 7/7), Michigan (No. 15/15), Ohio State (No. 16/17), Illinois (No. 23/-) and Minnesota (No. 25/18). MSU's No. 2 ranking in the AP Top 25 is its highest preseason ranking in school history, having previously been ranked No. 3 in 1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04.
Experience At Many Positions
Michigan State returns seven of its top nine scorers from last year's Final Four squad, and five players that averaged 17.9 minutes or more per game last season. Eight current Spartans enter the season having started at least one game for Michigan State.
Not So Much At One
The position of concern for the Spartans will be at center. Michigan State must replace Goran Suton, Idong Ibok and Marquise Gray, three five-year players that appeared in 380 games (starting 162), playing a combined 5,808 minutes over the course of their careers. Their void must be filled by the trio of red-shirt junior Tom Herzog, and true freshmen Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman. Herzog enters the season with 29 games of experience (starting 1), for a combined 100 minutes of action. The trio of Gray, Ibok and Suton combined for 13.9 points and 12.1 rebounds per contest.
Another Strong Non-Conference Schedule
Michigan State will be tested early and often during its 2009-10 non-conference schedule. The Spartans will take road trips to play at North Carolina and Texas, both of which are ranked in the preseason top-five by most prognosticators. The last time MSU played two ranked non-conference teams on the road was 2003-04 (No. 6 Kansas, No. 17 Syracuse). The last time MSU played two top-five non-conference teams on the road was 1999-2000 (No. 2 North Carolina, No. 2 Arizona). In addition, MSU will host Gonzaga and will play Florida on a neutral court in the Legends Classic. Both the Bulldogs and the Gators have appeared in preseason Top 25 rankings.
Big Ten Even Stronger
While MSU's non-conference slate is rough, the Big Ten schedule is even tougher, as the conference will feature its strongest lineup in the last decade or so. Six different league schools (Michigan State, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue) are ranked in The Associated Press Top 25. The last time that MSU played five different ranked schools during league play came during the 1999 season when the Spartans played six different ranked league opponents. In addition, all five members of the 2009 All-Big Ten First Team are back.
Junior Kalin Lucas and senior Raymar Morgan have been named preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award. In addition, Lucas earned a spot on Dick Vitale's Preseason All-Rolls Royce Team and was named the nation's best point guard by Lindy's College Basketball. He was also named preseason first-team All-Big Ten by Lindy's and Athlon Sports College Basketball. Morgan was named a fourth-team preseason All-American by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He also earned all-league accolades from Lindy's and Athlon. Delvon Roe earned all-league honors from Athlon, while Durrell Summers was recognized by Lindy's.
Honors For Spartan Backcourt
Lindy's College Basketball selected Michigan State as having the nation's best backcourt. Villanova, California, Kansas, Washington, Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Mississippi and Purdue round out the top 10.