With Penn State taking on Michigan State one last time in the Talor Battle era, it only seems fitting that we sit down with one of my favorite blogs, and one of the best blogs in the Big Ten blogosphere, The Only Colors. We got a hold of Pete Rossman a manager of the site to sit down and look over 5 questions regarding tonight’s game, Talor Battle, and the direction of the Michigan State program.
*For whatever reason this post is formatted wierdly, sorry for that, spent a while trying to fix it. Internet has it’s way with things sometimes.”
1. If you had to explain what exactly the problem was with MSU this year, what would be the first thing you’d bring up? If Penn State could do one thing right that would help their chances Thursday, what would it be?
Despite the shooting clinics opponents have been putting on the last five games or so, the one constant problem throughout this season has been a lack of offensive continuity. The two main reasons for this decrease in offensive output has been a lack of a consistent inside presence (losing Raymar Morgan hurt this team much more than I initially thought) and a proclivity to settle for the worst kind of jump shot — 18-footers just inside the arc. The one thing Penn State can do to improve their chances tomorrow is pack the interior on defense and force MSU to make the outside shot. I know this sounds a bit counter-intuitive to the first point I brought up, but opponents have had success the last few games condensing in the paint and making Michigan State kick the ball out.
2. For the most part Michigan State has been the same core of players the past 3-4 years. Are there any players who have stepped up since the last meeting we should look out for?
I’d say one player has emerged from this quagmire as a bit of a light — Derrick Nix. The sophomore center has had problems with his weight throughout his time at MSU, but when he’s on the court he possesses a touch around the basket that few players on this team currently have. The biggest problem with him currently is his conditioning; he can’t spend more than a few minutes on the court before he needs to leave. If he can get his weight down to 250-260 from where it is now (somewhere in the 280 range) he’ll have two years to be a force in the Big Ten.
3. What are your thoughts on Kalin Lucas’ senior season so far?
For the first half of the season he was a step slow. Now he’s regained the majority of his speed and it’s really helped his offensive efficiency, as he can drive to the rim and not settle for long two-pointers (although he still takes a few too many of those). This season hasn’t been as good as his junior or sophomore seasons but I think the ACL injury had much to do with his decline this year, and now that the injury is close to being healed the old Lucas is back. It’s a shame this team declined to such a degree that his comeback will get lost in the despair.
4. How much are you going to miss Talor Battle?
The easiest question of the bunch — Not. In. The. Slightest. It’s strange though, I remember the games in which Battle went unconscious from three as MSU wins, and in the two games where he didn’t bear the brunt of the scoring load and did more to get his teammates involved, Penn State picked up those victories. I might have been too traumatized by the losses to think rationally and might’ve deflected the cause of the loss solely away from Battle, but that won’t be the case this game – I’ve grown numb to losses this year.
5. Is Michigan State trending downwards, or is this just the result of a tough schedule, and too many off and on court issues piling up in one season?
I believe this drop off is temporary. MSU hit the mother lode of misery with two players from the Final Four team dismissed and a non-conference schedule that was harder than most expected. Couple those two problems with the added problem of injuries throughout the summer (all but two or three Spartans had a significant injury between April and October) meant that this team had a short window to coalesce before the season started. What happens next year will be anyone’s guess because of the dearth of players leaving the Big Ten, but MSU has too much talent to be down for too long.
Thanks to Pete for stopping by and be sure to check out TOC for all your Michigan State information. A really good blog worth your time.