With three of the top four scorers from last season’s Elite Eight team having moved on, it’s rather apparent that Michigan State will need others to step forward if they’re to contend both in the Big Ten and nationally. Senior forward Branden Dawson is the team’s leading returning scorer, and guards Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine have stepped forward as the leaders.
But another player has taken steps towards being a more integral figure in 2014-15, and that’s sophomore forward Gavin Schilling. As a freshman Schilling didn’t see much playing time, accounting for 1.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in just 6.5 minutes of action per game. The minutes are going to increase this season, given the graduation of Adreian Payne and the dismissal of Kenny Kaminski.
And according to a story by Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal Schilling has taken noticeable steps forward in his game. While head coach Tom Izzo praised him for his work ethic and energy, Schilling cited the fact that things have slowed down for him in his second season as a Spartan.
“I just slowed myself down in the post,” Schilling said. “And I just felt more comfortable, and off of that I can play my game. Last year I had trouble, I was going too fast and I was all over the place. Keeping my poise, getting more comfortable, getting a better feel for the game is something I’ve improved on.”
Schilling isn’t going to score at the rate Payne did last season, with the Atlanta Hawk being able to score both inside and out for a team that won 29 games and a Big Ten tournament title. But he won’t have to, especially if Dawson can remain healthy and he, Trice and Valentine all take the steps forward they’re expected to. But Schilling is going to be on the court more than he was as a freshman, so he has to prove himself capable of taking advantage.
By the sound of things Schilling’s off to a good start and that regard. The next step is to show off the progress in game action, with Michigan State playing its first exhibition game Sunday night.