Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.
According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.
That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.
“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”
As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.
Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.
Michigan State landed its main target of a potential No. 1 class on Saturday as in-state, five-star wing Miles Bridges committed to the Spartans during a press conference.
The 6-foot-6 Bridges, who plays his high school ball at powerhouse Huntington Prep in West Virginia, is regarded as the No. 11 overall prospect in the Class of 2016 and the versatile lefty power wing can play multiple spots on the floor. Michigan State was able to land Bridges after a heated recruitment that included official visits to his other finalists of Indiana and Kentucky.
Playing with The Family in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer, Bridges cemented himself as a legitimate All-American candidate with his strong play and ability to score from all over the floor. In 22 games, Bridges averaged 21 points, 9.1 rebounds and two assists per game while shooting 44 percent from the field.
Joining Bridges in Michigan State’s Class of 2016 is five-star guard Josh Langford, four-star point guard Cassius Winston and four-star big man Nick Ward. While the Spartans haven’t reeled in consistent five-star talent over the last few classes, the last two groups have wielded three potential All-Americans and there is a major talent influx happening for head coach Tom Izzo’s program.
Now the big question becomes if Michigan State can convince five-star wing Josh Jackson to stay in Michigan. Jackson and his family have played things close to the vest during the recruiting process, but the Spartans certainly have an attractive group in place to surround Jackson with.
One of the best players in the Class of 2016, Michigan native Miles Bridges, will announce his college decision on Oct. 3, the five-star prospect announced on Twitter.
Currently regarded as the No. 11 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Bridges will choose between his finalists of Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan State at Mott Community College.
The 6-foot-6 wing from Huntington Prep has taken official visits to all three schools and it should be an intriguing recruitment to follow up until the end.
While Michigan State is trying to land Bridges as the centerpiece to a potential No. 1 recruiting class, Indiana also has a 2016 commitment from Bridges’ Huntington Prep teammate Curtis Jones. Kentucky has also long been a factor in the Bridges recruitment, with head coach John Calipari frequently checking out his games this summer.
Playing with The Family this spring and summer in the Nike EYBL, Bridges was one of the most productive players in the league as he averaged 21 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in 20 games. A power lefty wing who can play multiple spots on the floor, Bridges could be a potential starter as a freshman for any of the programs recruiting him, depending on what the situation looks like when he enters campus.