Miles Bridges

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Miles Bridges is officially returning for his sophomore season

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Miles Bridges will return to Michigan State for his sophomore season, the program announced on Thursday evening.

This isn’t much of a surprise. The university had previously planned the announcement. The promotional picture for it even included the quote, “I’ve got something to say. It’s not about me, it’s about us.”

Bridges becomes the second projected lottery pick to elect to return for his sophomore season. Texas A&M big man Robert Williams announced he had decided not to enter the draft three weeks ago.

The 6-foot-7 Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game for the Spartans. Not only does this make him a shoo-in for preseason All-American teams, as CBT’s Rob Dauster wrote early on Thursday, it makes Sparty one of the title favorites entering the 2017-18 season.

Bridges expected to return for Michigan State on Wednesday

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Michigan State is about to get a major boost.

The Spartans are expecting the return of freshman Miles Bridges on Wednesday against Rutgers, coach Tom Izzo said Monday.

The 6-foot-7 forward has missed the last seven games due to an ankle injury after averaging 16.6 points and 8.8 rebounds to begin his college career.

“Our job is to try to get him some minutes,” Izzo said, according to MLive.com, “if everything goes well (Monday) and (Tuesday), and then see if we can build on that.”

The Spartans have certainly stayed afloat without their best player, going 6-1 (although that loss came to Northeastern), and are 2-0 in Big Ten play. They should have little trouble against Rutgers as Bridges re-acclimates to the lineup, and then they have Penn State on Saturday before a run against Minnesota, Ohio State, Indiana and Purdue.

If Bridges can get up to speed by then, it’ll go a long way for Michigan State trying to gain steady footing in a season that’s been upended some by a string of injuries.

“I think he’s in decent shape,” Izzo said. “He’s not going to be in playing shape, but decent shape.”

VIDEO: No. 13 Michigan State survives FGCU thanks to clock operator error

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No. 13 Michigan State escaped the Breslin Center with a 78-77 win over FGCU on Sunday night thanks in large part to an error made by the person running the clock in the arena.

With 1.6 seconds left, the Eagles had the ball under their own basket, needing to go 94 feet to get a bucket to win the game. Christian Terrell launched an 80-foot inbounds pass that ended up in the hands of Antravious Simmons, but as he caught the ball, the final buzzer sounded.

Instead of starting the clock on the catch, the clock started on the pass. Check it out:

The referees went to the monitor and ruled that the game was over. FGCU head coach Joe Dooley was, rightly, livid, letting the referees and the clock operator have a piece of his mind before he left the floor.

“Miles Bridges didn’t touch the ball,” FGCU head coach Joe Dooley said. “Officials said they can only review it if the shot goes in. We threw the ball in at 1.6 and caught it at 0. The refs said they didn’t start the clock. The table said they didn’t start the clock. The refs said they could only review if the shot goes in. My guy (Antravious Simmons) heard the buzzer and shot it.”

A source told NBCSports that it was NOT the clock operator at the Breslin Center that made the mistake. The “ref had the clock,” the source said.

The question is whether or not the buzzer affected Antravious Simmons’ shot. It looked like he rushed the shot once he heard the buzzer going off, but he knew there was only 1.6 seconds left on the clock. Wouldn’t that be what his shot looked like anyway?

Regardless, many believed that FGCU should have gotten a do-over, but that’s not how the rules work in this situation. The referees don’t have the authority to give FGCU a do-over. What they are allowed to do on a clock-keeper error is to determine whether or not the shot was actually released in the amount of time that was left on the clock. Since Simmons missed the shot, it was a moot point. If he had made the shot that had clearly come after the buzzer sounds, they would have been able to determine that he got the shot off in time. Or, if it was the other way around and the clock started late, the refs would have been able to check to see if Simmons got the shot off in 1.6 seconds.

Anyway, whether or not FGCU actually made that final shot, the bottom-line is that it’s very clear that Michigan State is not a good basketball team right now.

We told you that last week, but there were some promising signs on Sunday night. The most important? Eron Harris looked like he could end up being a go-to guy. He finished with 31 points and hit six threes, although his two missed throws late set up the ending. The Spartans need someone they can run offense through, among other things. If Harris can be that guy, it’s a big step for them.

UPDATE: Here’s what the officials had to say about the ending:

POSTERIZED: Miles Bridges puts on a dunk-show for Michigan State

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No team in the country needed a get-right game as badly as No. 13 Michigan State did, and they got it on Friday night.

The Spartans beat Mississippi Valley State so badly I didn’t even bother checking the final score. I just checked the highlights.

Because … well, because Miles Bridges is a bad, bad man:

Michigan State is a team going through growing pains

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NEW YORK — This year’s iteration of the Champions Classic was weird, to say the least.

The No. 1 team in the country, Duke, lost in a thriller to a team that was already 0-1 on the season, and not only did the performance assert why that 0-1 team – No. 7 Kansas – is a national title contender – because #BIFM – but it also was proof positive that the Blue Devils are the best team in the country. That’s what happens when you take a team like Kansas to the wire, erasing a 10-point deficit in the final five minutes, without Harry Giles III, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden.

And then there is Kentucky.

The No. 2 Wildcats played their best game of the season, dominating No. 13 Michigan for 40 minutes, beating Tom Izzo’s team by 21 points and doing so while their front line failed to look anything close to dominant. The Wildcats all-but ensured that they will be the No. 1 team in college basketball come Monday morning, and yet, it seems like it’s something that we’re all glossing over.

And, frankly, there’s a reason for that: Michigan State just isn’t very good right now.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but by far the biggest issue is on the offensive end of the floor. The Spartans managed all of 48 points against Kentucky after they struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm after the opening minutes against Arizona. They shot 32 percent from the floor. They were 5-for-26 from three. they had nine assists and 19 turnovers.

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“I think this is one of John (Calipari’s) best defensive teams,” head coach Tom Izzo said. I’d quibble with that assessment – three times in his Kentucky tenure Coach Cal has fielded a team that finished first or second in KenPom.com’s defensive efficiency metric – but this is a very good Kentucky defense. De’Aaron Fox may be the nation’s best on-ball defender, Isaiah Briscoe has transformed himself into a stopper and there is enough size, length and athleticism on this roster that effort is the only thing that would keep this version of the Wildcats from being very good on that end of the floor.

Putting that kind of defensive back court on the floor against a team whose point guard play is very much a work in progress is going to cause problems, but more on that in a second.

To me, the biggest issue that this Michigan State team has is that they don’t really have a star on the offensive end of the floor. Miles Bridges was supposed to be the guy that carried the load, but he’s just not ready for that at this point in his development. He’s a role player in the same way that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a role player on Kentucky 2012 national title team. Bridges is an other-worldly athlete that plays hard, defends, rebounds and does all the things on a basketball court that you cannot teach. In the first ten minutes on Tuesday night, he blocked two layups seemingly out of nowhere and broke up another alley-oop, essentially erasing six points that Kentucky would’ve scored against any other team in the country.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Miles Bridges #22 reacts after being taken out of the game by head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Miles Bridges (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

But that’s what he does best right now.

At this level right now, he is a glue guy. But given the youth on Michigan State’s roster, the Spartans need him to be the guy, and he’s not that guy, at least not against this level of competition. He finished 2-for-11 from the floor with nine turnovers against Michigan State.

“I’m really embarrassed,” Bridges said, adding that he felt added pressure to try and make something happen when the offense started struggling. “But that’s what I can’t do. I have to get my teammates involved and do something else.”

“In high school, I was getting wherever I wanted, bullying guys,” Bridges added. “You can’t do that here.”

Izzo’s known as one of the best x’s-and-o’s coaches in college hoops, but without a commanding voice at the point guard spot, their offense devolved into too much one-on-one. Instead of running their lanes in transition and running through their sets, Michigan State was trying to break the defense down on their own. That’s not going to work against a team that can defend the way that Kentucky can defend. That’s not going to work if Michigan State is going to beat the teams that they expect to beat.

The good news?

Much of what ails Michigan State is fixable. They’ll get better as Cassius Winston gets more comfortable running the show. They’ll get better as Nick Ward learns how to be a guy that offense runs through in the post. They’ll get better as Josh Langford gets more comfortable being a go-to guy on the offensive end of the floor. They’ll get better as Izzo continues to work with them on how he wants his offensive to run and his team to play. Veteran teams can overcome subpar point guard play. Great point guards can help ‘coach up’ a young team early in the season.

The Spartans, right now, have neither, and the result wasn’t exactly unexpected.

“The good news is the mistakes we’re making are fixable mistakes. [Coach] is not telling us to jump higher or run faster, it’s cutting and the x’s-and-o’s,” Nick Goins said, adding that the loss of Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling, a pair of senior bigs, is taking a toll as well. “Having that leadeship and the people that know our coaches and how they want the program run, it’s where we’re struggling, to get people to fit into those roles.”

“When you have 18 or 20 turnovers, defensive mistakes, that you know you can’t make, that’s stuff you can control,” said Langford. “When you look at yourself in the mirror, it’s frustrating, but you have to live and learn.”

That’s what life is going to be like at this level. Michigan State will have to learn how to adjust.

As Izzo put it, “welcome to the real world.”

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Cassius Winston #5 in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Cassius Winston (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)