Michigan State Spartans

Gavin Schilling

Michigan State’s frontcourt hit with injury again

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Michigan State’s frontcourt just went from thin to thinner.

Starting center Gavin Schilling suffered a non-contact injury to his right knee and will undergo surgery, the Spartans announced Wednesday.

There is no timetable for his return

“This is certainly an unfortunate setback for Gavin, as he had been practicing very well,” coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “He had an incredible summer and was in excellent shape as he was ready to make his senior season his best one yet.”

The injury to Schilling is significant enough by itself, but when added to the loss of forward Ben Carter, who underwent knee surgery last month and is expected to miss “an extended period,” it’s impact is exacerbated greatly. The Spartans now have just four available forwards, half of which are freshmen.

Still, one of those freshmen is five-star recruit Miles Bridges, who was already expected to play major minutes at power forward and now Izzo will be presented with an option to play the 6-foot-7 Flint native at center in an extreme small-ball lineup. Nick Ward, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Ohio, will also likely be pushed into action immediately.

The Spartans will have almost zero time to experiment with lineups as they open the season in Hawaii against Arizona in the Armed Forces Classic and then play Kentucky at Madison Square Garden in the Champions Classic four days later. Following that is the always-competitive Battle 4 Atlantis and a trip to Durham to face Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

And that’s just Michigan State’s November schedule.

The injuries are certainly a blow for the Spartans, but Izzo’s teams are famous for fighting through early-season adversity to emerge among the country’s best come March. As long as Schilling and Carter return eventually, the Spartans still should be a Final Four threat, even if they drop a couple of high-profile games early adjusting to their forced small-ball reality.

Michigan State unveils new court design

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One of college basketball’s most formidable venues has a new look.

Michigan State’s Breslin Center has a new floor for the new-look Spartans this season.

The biggest change on the floor is the two-tone design that offsets the areas inside and outside the arc. The court keeps the large Spartan logo at center court that Michigan State added to the venue in 2012.

Spartan fans and the Izzone will get their first look at the new floor Friday when the school hosts its annual Michigan State Madness event, which always features coach Tom Izzo doing, well, something.

The Spartans lost much off last year’s team, but new faces like Miles Bridges, Josh Langford, Cassius Winston and Nick Ward are expected to keep Michigan State among the Big Ten’s best.

Five-star Bowen cuts list to six

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19:  Mississippi Rebels and Xavier Musketeers players run by the logo at mid-court during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Five-star 2017 prospect Brian Bowen has trimmed his list of possible collegiate destinations to six.

Creighton, North Carolina State, UCLA, Michigan State, Arizona and Texas are still under consideration, Bowen announced Wednesday evening.

Bowen, a consensus top-20 recruit, is a 6-foot-8 small forward out of Sagniaw, Mich., but he currently is attending the prestigious La Lumiere School in Indiana. He’s also the cousin of former Michigan State star Jason Richardson, leaving many to believe that he’s a heavy Spartan lean.

“People think I’m 100 percent to Michigan State,” Bowen told Brendan Quinn of MLive.com earlier this month. “I love them to death and I’ve been there my whole life and everything — it’s a great coaching staff and everything — but I’m not 100 percent to a school until I commit there. Right now, I’m open to the schools that are recruiting.”

Bowen hasn’t said when he plans on making a final decision.

Video: Miles Bridges hits head on rim during dunk

miles bridges
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Playing above the rim is supposed to be just a cliche. It’s something we say because it sounds cool and is mostly helpful in describing a player’s athleticism and game.

Five-star recruit and incoming Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges, then, would appear to have an at-the-rim game.

The 6-foot-6 wing player hit his head on the rim this week while dunking at the Moneyball Pro-Am.

The novelty – and, probably, pain – of hitting your head on the bucket on a dunk is a pretty good exhibit of the type of athlete Bridges is and is one example of why many consider him a potential one-and-done candidate. He, along with Joshua Langford, Cassius Winston and Nick Ward, are a big reason why the Spartans are again the favorite to win the Big Ten and compete for a national title despite losing the likes of National Player of the Year Denzel Valentine.

St. John’s nabs Michigan State transfer Clark

Michigan State's Marvin Clark Jr., left, drives against Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Jaquan Lynch during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in East Lansing, Mich.  (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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St. John’s officially added Michigan State transfer Marvin Clark on Wednesday, the school announced.
Clark, a 6-foot-6 forward, played his freshman and sophomore seasons for Tom Izzo in East Lansing before announcing his intent to transfer last month. He visited Providence in addition to St. John’s.
“We are glad Marvin has decided to join our basketball family,” said St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said in a statement released by the school. “He’s an experienced player with size, athleticism and a solid skill set. Marvin is a good fit for our program and we believe he will transition well into our style of play.”
Clark averaged 4.2 points per game while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor during his two seasons as a Spartan. His playing time diminished from 11.2 minutes per game his freshman season to 9.7 minutes per game last year. Michigan State is again expected to have a full frontcourt, which would have left Clark battling for minutes once again.
At St. John’s, Clark will help bolster a roster that was in need of a major overhaul when Mullin took over a year ago. The Red Storm have been aggressive in targeting and bringing in transfers thus far in Mullin’s tenure.
Clark’s story goes well beyond basketball as he endured a difficult childhood in Kansas City that included time where he was homeless. He’s an easy story to root for, and will get a new start at St. John’s when he begins his final two seasons of eligibility in 2017-18.

No. 1 Michigan State rebounds from slow start to beat Northeastern

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No. 1 Michigan State’s trip to Boston to take on Northeastern wasn’t expected to be an easy one, as the Huskies are an experienced and talented group that picked up a win at No. 15 Miami earlier this season. And that’s how things played out at the start, with Bill Coen’s team dominating the boards and controlling the tempo.

But after a sloppy first ten minutes Tom Izzo’s team played at the level one would expect of the nation’s best team, going on to win 78-58 in a game shown on NBCSN.

At one point in the first half Northeastern had more offensive rebounds (nine) than Michigan State had total rebounds (five), with Zach Stahl and Kwesi Akabah proving particularly difficult for the Spartans to keep off the glass. But once Michigan State’s front court managed to complete defensive possessions with a rebound the Spartans were able to get out in the open floor and increase the game’s tempo, turning a tight game into a comfortable victory by game’s end.

Denzel Valentine accounted for 17 points, five rebounds and six assists, and by game’s end Michigan State finished with more second chance points than Northeastern (14-13). Add in 14 points off of 12 Northeastern turnovers, and Michigan State moved one win (12-0) closer to producing the best start in program history. Offensively the Spartans shot nearly 56 percent from the field and had three players reach double figures, with Bryn Forbes (12 points) and Tum Tum Nairn (11) joining Valentine.

Also of note for Michigan State was the return of forward Gavin Schilling, who missed the first 11 games due to injury. Schilling played just 11 minutes, producing four points and three rebounds, but he was the team’s best big man during their summer trip to Italy and his return gives the Spartans another option to call upon inside. That will be key for them moving forward, as he’ll join a rotation that includes fellow veteran Matt Costello and freshmen Deyonta Davis and Kenny Goins.

Michigan State’s first-shot defense was very good Saturday afternoon, as Northeastern shot just 37.3 percent from the field with David Walker scoring 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting. But the game didn’t change in their favor until the Spartans got back to cleaning up the defensive glass as they had in the 11 games prior, and that attention to detail will be key as Michigan State plays games of even greater magnitude later in the season.