Michigan State Exhibit Observations Outweigh Grand Valley State


The memory of the 2007-08 Grand Valley State team that beat Michigan State at home in double overtime will haunt Tom Izzo forever. Thursday’s exhibition match between the two programs never failed to reopen that scar.

MSU passed the Lakers, 83-60, to close the show season in front of a light crowd at the Breslin Center.

The Spartans opened the game with a 13-0 streak in 2 minutes and 36 seconds halfway through the second half. They were leading 38-20 at the break after a layup from Malik Hall and a free throw from Marcus Bingham Jr. The margin reached 20 on the first mark of the second half, a first-year rider on guard Max Christie, and stayed in the 20s for most of the period.

MSU briefly extended their cushion to a game-high 32 after a seven-point push, capped by a 3-point from Gabe Brown, before Grand Valley scored the last nine points of the night.

Christie led the Spartans with 14 points on 6 of 12 shots, followed by 13 points and nine rebounds from Joey Hauser. Brown had 11 points, Bingham scored 10 with seven rebounds, and AJ Hoggard added nine points and five assists off the bench.

Below are some quick observations of the Spartans’ victory over the Lakers:


If MSU can summon the same level of focus, intensity and attention from Bingham that it got on Thursday night of this year, the Spartans could well find themselves in the center. Of course, it’s easy for Bingham to play big against an opponent like that. There is a mid-class element that sneaks into the elementary’s playground for him in a showdown like this. But that was also true against Ferris State last week, and Bingham mostly looked like the guy he was a year ago. This performance, especially his first half, felt like a different player. There was an energy in Bingham on both sides, and an idea of ​​how he could impact the game without overdoing it, which makes me think he can be more of an every night factor. Will he bring the same zest to the Kansas game, or clashes with Kofi Cockburn or Trevion Williams? We’ll see. The version of Bingham who had 10 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and two steals against the Lakers gives MSU a solid response to its weaker position.


As MSU started the same five games as the Ferris State game – Walker, Christie, Brown, Hauser, Bingham – Thursday night offered a glimpse into the flexibility of the Spartans’ lineup. Hall played a small striker in the first half, which has been discussed a lot this preseason. Izzo opened the second half with a smaller frontcourt with Hall up front and Hauser in the middle. And shortly after the intermission, we saw a look from two pointers with Walker and Hoggard on the floor together. Of particular interest is a lineup with Hauser at the center, in the hopes that Walker will rejuvenate MSU’s pick-and-roll game.

This rotation, in terms of personnel, is evident. These are the starting five, plus Hall, Hoggard, Julius Marble and Jaden Akins, with Mady Sissoko as the big emergency. But that was a glimpse into the myriad of ways Izzo and Co. can deploy them and morph into different looks. This versatility could be one of MSU’s first strengths. Perhaps, through experimentation, he reveals what the real strengths of MSU are.


Free throws were something Izzo listed on Wednesday as an area he wanted to see improved after the Spartans shot 19 for 31 from the strip against Ferris State. MSU followed with an 11-for-20 effort against the Lakers, including 8-for-16 in the first half. It’s too early to sound the alarm on any aspect of this team, but I don’t think it’s a team, at least initially, that will have the margin of error to be sloppy on the line. free throws against quality competition.

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