Last year was a major anomaly for the Michigan State Spartans. As Diamond Leung of MLive.com pointed out today, the 2012-2013 season was the first time in a decade that a Tom Izzo-coached team had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio. Leung pointed out that the Spartans matched 489 turnovers with 474 assists.
That’s not going to fly.
“That was a ridiculous stat for a top-10 team,” Izzo told the Sporting News earlier this month.
The Sporting News pointed a finger at the team’s primary culprits, as well.
Sporting News writer Mike DeCourcy noted that guards Keith Appling and Denzel Valentine were among the Spartans that needed to cut down on turnovers. He also wrote that the Spartans last season were the highest-seeded team in the NCAA tournament with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.
Appling had a rather meager 1.4 A/TO ratio as an individual, and Valentine was even lower at 1.2; the team’s best mark was a 1.5 posted by Travis Trice in limited action.
Appling (13.4 ppg) carried most of the team’s scoring load as well, so it may be that his assist numbers will improve when, you know, someone catches his passes and puts them in the basket. Then again, Appling projects as a point guard in the NBA, and the current state of his ballhandling makes his selection in the 2014 draft highly unlikely. So it behooves him, and his coach, to solve this problem as quickly as possible.