Deyonta Davis

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best


Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Michigan State’s Clark sidelined with foot injury

Marvin Clark Jr.
Associated Press
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Michigan State will be shorthanded when it begins practice in just over a week’s time, as one of their expected contributors has been sidelined due to injury.

Sophomore forward Marvin Clark Jr. underwent surgery on his left foot Tuesday, and as a result he’s expected to miss anywhere from six to eight weeks as a result. According to the Detroit Free Press a screw was inserted into Clark’s foot to address a stress reaction, and the decision was made to address this now given the fact that the season’s yet to begin.

Clark averaged 4.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in just over 11 minutes of action per game as a freshman, and with Branden Dawson having moved on he’s expected to play even more in 2015-16. With Clark now sidelined for the time being, freshman Deyonta Davis will be among those who absorb the sophomore’s minutes.

Positive summer has Michigan State hoping freshman forward Deyonta Davis brings versatility

Deyonta Davis (Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Coming off of a somewhat surprising Final Four appearance during the 2014-15 season, Michigan State will need some new pieces to step up after the departure of valuable senior starters like Branden Dawson and Travis Trice.

Earlier this week Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press profiled the improvement of senior guard Bryn Forbes and this weekend he had a feature on the strong summer of freshman forward and McDonald’s All-American Deyonta Davis.

The 6-foot-10 Davis has been playing in a local summer league and working with his new teammates during the summer and they seem to have positive things to say about him. Having Davis gives the Spartans more front court versatility than last season because at his size, he can play either the four or the five. Davis gives senior center Matt Costello and junior big man Gavin Schilling another player to work with if the duo gets in foul trouble or struggles to produce.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what DD can do on the court,” Costello said of Davis in the story. “He’s big, he’s long, he’s athletic, and he listens to people. He’s not hard-headed at all, and I really appreciate that about him. It’s been a good summer with him.”

If Davis shows any kind of immediate impact, it would be a huge boost for Michigan State up front. He’s a very naturally gifted player and his potential improvement could really help Michigan State for the next few seasons.

For the last few classes it seemed like the Spartans and head coach Tom Izzo weren’t recruiting the kinds of high-end, All-American-caliber players necessary to compete every year on a national level. By adding players like Davis and the 2016 class commitments of Josh Langford and Nick Ward, it’s a great boost of talent coming into East Lansing the next few seasons with more potential players to come. Izzo made the Final Four last year and he’s certainly capitalizing on his recent success by keeping All-Americans coming into the Michigan State program.