Answering Your Michigan State Basketball Questions and Emails…
Hondo, is Russ Byrd a lost cause? Is he doing anything this summer to get ready? I saw some players and they said he wasn’t around. Did he leave? Chris
Chris, he is not around, but he has not left the program. Russ is working hard out in California with a man that trains NBA players on their shot and conditioning. Whether or not Russ becomes the player all thought he would is still to be determined, but he is working at it.
Can our program really be considered one of the best in the country when we aren’t winning any recruiting battles against Duke and Kentucky? Why do you think Izzo is now struggling to pull in top recruits when he had a string of success (’08-’12)? Is it something he’s doing wrong that he could fix/change? Adam Briggs
Adam, I think 2014 is going to be a big gauge of Spartan basketball. They will get recruits. Will they get the big names that are going after again, or do they have to take guys that weren’t first tier players? Elite programs don’t win all recruiting battles, but they don’t lose them all either. I think it is fair to say you can trust in Izzo.
Hondo, you used a term I had not heard about recruiting. You said “First tier” on the radio show. Could you explain, I am not that used to basketball recruiting? Phil
Thanks Phil. I sure can. Let’s say that in any particular class coach Izzo has his eye on a point guard and he only wants one. Let’s say that he offers three players. Player A is a top recruit that he wants badly. He will let that recruit take his time and that scholarship will essentially be there the entire process as long as Izzo thinks he has a legitimate chance. Not a PG, but that happened with Jabari Parker. Let’s say that they also offer player B and C, but their offers are conditional. What that means is that IF player A doesn’t come to MSU they have an offer. Player B and C may be equal so they know if player A doesn’t come, the first to commit gets it. They are second tier players. Not first choices. I know of cases where they may only take one player at a spot, but offer three players. They are all top tier and the first to commit gets it. Ellis and Schilling are very good players, but were not first tier choices for Izzo. MSU will get some good recruits this year, but will he land top tier? We shall see.
Hondo, I always love your predictions. I think you did an amazing job nailing the MSU regular season record perfect last year. I think it is too early for your predictions next year, but what would you say is the biggest concern? Megyn Wynn
Adreian Payne. Off the court, more than on. Coming back was great, but will he continue to grow and mature. He is the X factor. I talked with Izzo about this and had it in the magazine. My advice to him would be come in, be quiet, and earn the right to lead by actions.
Hondo, I always appreciate your honest analysis. Please answer this not with your heart, but your head. Will MSU be in the Final Four at the end of this year? Kaitlyn
Wow, this is tough. If I was taking out what I want and just making an honest assessment I would say no. The leadership issue is what makes Final Four teams and I don’t know who leads. The same with last year.
Hondo, you were recently talking MSU basketball on the radio show and you were talking about chemistry and leadership. I am sorry I missed it, but could you please explain for me? Carl
Sure Carl and thanks for listening. Keith Appling can have bad games, but he gives everything he has. A true warrior, but he is quiet and when he struggles in big games that makes leadership tough. AP is not a leader. Gary Harris is a great player, but as one MSU basketball player told me when I asked if he could lead, “He don’t talk.” Travis Trice is the natural leader, but he has to stay healthy and play to do that. Branden Dawson could be, but he is in the Trice boat. This team has very good chemistry. They don’t have good leadership. This team has amazing coaching and great talent. They don’t have a leader on the court. If they can find one, this could be amazing.
Hondo, I really want Cliff Alexander to come to MSU. I know you have said you don’t think he picks MSU, do you still feel that way? Pat
Yes, I do. Pat, his coaches love MSU. They would love to see him become a Spartan, but Cliff admitted on my radio that if he got a Kentucky offer that was his dream and that is where he wanted to go. Spartan Nation can certainly hope he changes his mind.
Hondo, me and the boys have been debating about Izzo using the zone. I know he hates it, but I think it would help us. Please set my frat brothers straight. Izzo needs to use the zone or not? Matt
Matt, I love this question. I had a conversation recently with a MSU player. He told me, “Every year Coach will say in the media that we are going to look at the zone and every year he kills us practicing it. We all know we won’t use it. I wish we didn’t waste the time.” Now I tell you that quote because I do think Coach is sincere when he says it. He wouldn’t waste practice time, but I think what he does works. The results are in. I think when push comes to shove coach does what he is comfortable with and what works. Can’t argue with the man. Izzo is a Hall of Fame coaching genius.
There you go everyone. Another week of your MSU Basketball Q and A in the books. Make sure to send in your questions for next week. Simply email them to SpartanNationMail@yahoo.com and put weekly Q and A Basketball in the subject line.