Film Room: What went wrong at Michigan State?

Given all the options for defending Cassius, I’d go with switching. Make him earn it 1 on 1 for the whole game. He’ll get his, no doubt, but he’ll have to work for it. The other approaches are way too easy for him.

I don’t love Michigan’s personnel to switch at all though… Michigan had extra problems versus MSU on Sunday because it didn’t switch everything 1-4 (like it would have with Livers) but are you excited about Johns? Teske? Franz? Austin Davis? Castleton? Trying to defend Winston on a switch?

What I noticed other teams do earlier was collapse defenders from the wings. This was back when MSU couldn’t hit a three and the gamble was that you might give up a three point look, but the main goal seemed to be get the ball out of his hands.

Yeah, I think that makes sense. The hard part for Michigan is that its base defense is so dependent on not helping off the wings and not allowing assisted FGs. That also … hasn’t worked against Winston and MSU for two straight years.

1 Like

He just got married and has a kid on the way. I can’t see him coming back. He’ll be drafted somewhere.

I can’t speak for him because I obviously haven’t been in a remotely similar situation, but if I had a very young child I’d be much more pulled in by the stability that being at MSU provides over the insanity of an NBA draft process that could land you anywhere and a season that keeps you away so often. Again, I can’t say I’ve had to make a similar decision and there’s other factors like money, but still…

1 Like

Watching the game live I felt like we got beat by a better team with their National POY contender playing like it. Probably didn’t matter Livers was out we would’ve been hard pressed to upset State at Breslin in year 1 with Juwan. However, watching these clips back was frustrating. So many of the errors were correctable with better communication/execution/etc. Two that stand out are the wide open three to Ahrens in transition and Malik Hall’s cut across the lane for a bucket against the matchup zone. Seemed pretty clear to me everybody else was matched up by that point in the possession and Wagner should’ve picked up the cutter.

I hear ya. Again, I have no doubt that Cassius can score in these situations. But I think it makes him work more and it also takes the flow out of their offense. I actually do like switching with Johns and Franz. I thought you made a good point in the recap about maybe playing Johns at the five when Livers come back. In that lineup, I do think switching is very viable.

Also, how about putting Eli on Winston and allow X to save some energy on D? Isn’t this what state does with Winston, i.e., play him off X. IMO, Eli is every bit as a good a defender as X, if not better.

I’d like to see us mix in some more zone/junk defense and occasionally put a bigger defender on Cash to see if the length messes him up. Not Nunez, but I’d be comfortable with Franz or even Bajema for periods switching things up to throw different looks at Winston. No concerns about Z guarding Ahrens or one of their other wing players for bursts.

Last clip in the story.

No he’s not. Not close.

1 Like

They are both very good defenders in my opinion. Seems like Eli is usually underrated and X is a bit overrated, imo.

1 Like


I don’t think MSU is going away. But they are going to lose the guys that makes it all go and is possibly one of the best 3 or 5 players of the Izzo era. And at a time when Michigan is opening up a talent gap. Michigan has a chance to make it a sour ending for Izzo unless he finds another Winston. Excellent senior role Players should soon be insufficient to beat M.

1 Like

I get what you are saying, sort of, in calling Cassius a role player. He’s a senior. He’s probably not an NBA 1st rounder even now. But give the dude the respect he has earned. He ain’t no role player. He’s favorite for Big 10 Player of the Year.

He’s not saying Winston is a senior role player.

1 Like

Izzo has been successful for a long time without Winston. He’s a great coach and they’ve been a consistent top 10 program for 20 years. Imo it’s unlikely that Juwan really just starts pounding them. Maybe next year if Tillman and/or Henry leaves. But they’ll reload eventually. Their 2018-2020 classes look very talented. Plus Hauser. They just need a decent PG.

1 Like

I guess the thought process is that if Howard is able to recruit at a level like UNC/Duke he’ll be able to get similar results against Izzo.

1 Like

Not calling Winston a role player. Am saying that usually that’s what his best teams have - seniors who can execute extremely well, plus a nice solid all-conference type like a Gary Harris or Denzel Valentine. He doesn’t always have a transcendent guys like cleaves or Winston or Dray. If Michigan loads up on talent he’ll need to have that kind at all times to stay on pace.

1 Like