Michigan State’s depth among the best Tom Izzo’s ever had

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Michigan State logged one of its best non-conference seasons, is in the mix for the Big Ten title and should be a Final Four contender come March.

Is it any coincidence that the Spartans (16-4) sport perhaps the most impressive roster depth during the Tom Izzo era?

Glancing at the MSU roster, it’s easy to see that Izzo favors playing six players along with his two studs, Draymond Green and Keith Appling. They all fill different roles and excel at different things, but until KJ at The Only Colors composed this post, I wasn’t aware just how much Izzo does have those eight players on the court.

Most coaches use a six- or seven-man rotation. It’s easier to handle as the season wears on for chemistry and ensuring players stay sharp. Izzo’s using eight and not just in a minor way. It’s notable because Izzo’s “depth” teams tend to thrive because they fulfill the “team” aspect. Ones that rely on a few players with elite talent haven’t fared as well.

KJ explains why:

While there have been a couple recent bumps in the road, the players on this team are doing what players on good Izzo teams do. The go-to guys (Green and Appling) are, more often than not, converting when they’re gone to. The other upperclassmen (Austin Thornton, Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne) are fulfilling their roles more efficiently than they did the previous season. And the freshmen (Branden Dawson, Travis Trice, Brandan Kearney) are making mistakes but making enough positive contributions to offset them. As a bonus, you can add a transfer player (Brandon Wood) producing points at an extremely efficient clip.

In statistical terms, you’ve got:

  • Six guys with an individual offensive rating above 110 (every upperclassmen except Green, plus Kearney).
  • Eight guys with an individual defensive rebounding percentage of 10 or better.
  • Three guys with an individual block percentage of 4 or better.
  • Seven guys with an individual steal percentage of 2.5 or better.

No wonder Izzo’s using eight guys. He’s got eight good ones, all of whom deserve to be out there. Small wonder they’re one of the season’s real Final Four contenders.

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