While Michigan State fans were busy getting over the gut-punch of another recruiting defeat at the hands of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, they were quickly turning to what’s next for both the basketball and football teams.
Of course, we dive into some of the reasons Vernon Carey Jr. opted to commit to Duke and not Michigan State, while also looking at this year’s team and what role the freshmen might have as the season progresses.
As for football, there was plenty of talk about LJ Scott’s decision to head to the NFL, and some names to watch in the Redbox Bowl and heading into next spring.
We do our best to tackle all those topics in this week’s mailbag.
► Question. Who wouldn’t want two senior guards in Cash/Langford? The recruits are coming for Izzo? – @AGallante
► Answer. Well, it would seem to be an attractive bargaining chip, but trying to go against the Duke or Kentucky brand that says a commitment to one of those schools means a 100 percent guarantee on an NBA career is tough. Of course, it’s not true – the notion that one of those programs is a ticket to the next level and one like Michigan State isn’t. But that’s how it’s perceived by so many recruits. The built-in advantage that Duke has with things like Mike Krzyzewski’s long-time involvement with USA Basketball and a weekly series on ESPN don’t hurt.
It’s all a way of saying that things like playing with two experienced guards like Cassius Winston and Josh Langford probably isn’t near the top of the list for some of these recruits. More often, they look to who is coming with them. How much any of that played into the recruitment of Carey Jr. is hard to guess, but one of the first things he said after committing to Duke was that he hopes others join him, not about who was at Duke now.
► Q. Has Foster Loyer been a bit of a disappointment to date? He seems a step slow, and not automatic at the free throw line as he was in high school. – @SpartyH
► A. Hmmm. I’d say we’re really early to start judging whether he’s a disappointment. That goes for most freshmen. Not all are Zion Williamson and show up ready to play in the NBA. So it’s fair to wait until we pass judgement on Loyer. That said, I would have expected a bit more from him at this point, at the very least being able to give Winston more of a break than he has, and enough to keep Michigan State from turning to Matt McQuaid as the backup point guard.
I do expect to see some progress from Loyer as the season goes on, but it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to being a step behind defensively. I remember an MSU point guard by the name of Travis Trice who looked woefully overmatched physically his first season. It took some time, but he became an outstanding player by the end of his career. Will Loyer get to the same point? I don’t know, but it’s worth giving him some time.
► Q. What should we expect from our freshman class now that we are entering the Big Ten season? – @MatthewChatlin
► A. Another tough question considering only Aaron Henry has been seeing what could be described as significant minutes. I would certainly expect Henry to remain part of the rotation and even potentially see more time. As for the rest of the group, we’ve talked about Loyer while Marcus Bingham Jr.’s playing time will depend on matchups as he likely won’t see much time against bigger, physical teams. That leaves Gabe Brown and Thomas Kithier. I would expect Brown to slowly get more time as he gets stronger and feels more comfortable. As for Kithier, he’ll likely be a stop-gap when Michigan State’s bigs get in foul trouble.
► Q. Why did LJ reverse his field and declare for the NFL draft now? Wouldn’t he have been better off playing a couple of games and having good performances this season rather than sitting and then declaring? – @SpartyH
► A. Well, maybe he would have been better off playing a couple of games but the problem was Scott was not 100 percent healthy. The ankle injury suffered in Week 2 never fully healed and was a nuisance all season, which led to the original decision to not play a fifth game and come back for a fifth year.
Does it surprise me? Not at all. When Mark Dantonio announced the move after the Ohio State game I was skeptical, simply because running backs are seen as having a limited amount of carries and another, year in college would have cut the lifespan of a potential NFL career. So, for a guy who contemplated leaving last year, I feel like I saw this coming.
No, he won’t likely be taken in the first day or two of the draft, but he’ll get a shot. He still has all the physical tools the NFL loves and someone will be more than willing to take a chance on Scott.
► Q. If there is a change at OC, I'm thinking the most likely scenario is a Treadwell/Warner flip in responsibilities. But would Matt Canada be a candidate? – @pfnnewmedia
► A. OK, I’ll bite on this. Of course, Matt Canada would be a candidate. In fact, he’d be a great hire. But until the day Dantonio pulls the trigger on such a move, I’m not buying it. He simply has never shown that he is going to shake up a staff to this degree. Some could argue Dan Roushar was forced out after the 2012 season, but Dantonio promoted from within by elevating Dave Warner.
So, could there be some shuffling of responsibility? Maybe. But if Warner isn’t calling plays next season, you can count me as someone who will be surprised.
► Q. As you look at the current football roster less expected departures, where do you anticipate either a current player that we haven't seen this year, or an incoming freshman already committed to have the potential to make a huge impact, potentially starting? – @DavidJa88692244
► A. That’s a good question. I think there are a few freshmen who have seen limited action that I would keep an eye on, including Elijah Collins at running back and possibly Kalon Gervin at cornerback, especially if Justin Layne leaves early for the NFL. Also, don’t forget Davion Williams in that defensive backfield. Also, linebacker Edward Warriner and Jeslord Boateng made a couple trips this season and could start turning heads in the spring.
As for true freshmen, I think the obvious names to watch are offensive linemen Devontae Dobbs and Spencer Brown. Also, pay attention to Belleville athlete Julian Barnett.