Podcast: Deconstructing MSU’s downfall and figuring out U-M’s long pause


@umhoops as always a great discussion on the pod. I think that Juwan should just grab the best IM team/players and let them live their dream of donning the Maize & Blue in the Big Ten tournament. Treat the Big 10 tournament this year just as all of the Premiere League teams do the Caribou Cup or FA Cup, put the youth team out or a second team. Just think of how amazing that would be if they managed to upset a team in the tourny (I know it would never happen, but what if …). And then as you and Brendan said just send the scholarship team to Indy for a week of prep and living in the bubble before the NCAA tournament.


The discussion on MSU was interesting to me. I know most like to pile on them (and I do too) but I’m genuinely fascinated to understand how they got here and how they dig out. I really liked the comments Dylan made about how having established upperclassmen stars is a recipe for winning…but not a recipe for attracting top recruits at those positions (i.e. PG).

Now…with that being said, I don’t quite agree that MSU was crippled by Winston being around forever regarding the PG spot.

  • 2018 they signed Loyer (#96)
  • 2019 they signed Watts (#39) as a combo guard knowing he’d play some point
  • 2020 they signed Hoggard (#79) as a combo guard
  • 2021 they signed Akins (#55)

That’s a top-100 PG/CG every single year dating back to the first year that Winston was actually showing his potential. I don’t really agree that they had issues attracting PGs really - more that they either recruited the wrong guys, failed to develop Watts, or didn’t recognize that they needed a bridge this season from a veteran transfer.


Kind of proves my point.

Also, I think taking Hoggard was probably a mistake because from the outside it seemed to spook Jalen Terry. Terry hasn’t been great at Oregon but I think he’s at least a point guard. I don’t really think Hoggard is a multi-year Big Ten starting PG. What exactly does he do well?

Akins is kind of exactly the guy you can land after Winston.

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I’ve said it before but losing Terry really hurts. I don’t think he helps at all this season, but he would provide some hope for next year. Now I don’t see PG play improving unless they get a transfer in. Otherwise, they’ll have many of the same problems they have had this season.

I am also going to bring some popcorn to the off-season with MSU because it is going to be must-watch TV. The program has been remarkably stable with very few transfers out or in over the years. I agree with Dylan that they probably need to look around the transfer market at PG or C…but they have scholarship limits to work around.

Realistically…who is a sure thing to be on the roster?

  • The three recruits (Akins, Brooks, Christie)
  • The veteran role players (Loyer, Kithier)
  • Hauser

Anyone else?

  • Hoggard and Sissoko probably stick it out as young players…but neither got much run this year and are probably worried about being recruited over.
  • Brown seems like a good floor spacing wing that every team needs…but would he really want to come back for his last year given the role he’s been playing and the recruits coming in? Guessing he could leave.
  • Watts still feels like a critical piece…but also seems broken and maybe not excited to go through the Izzo motivational meat grinder again.
  • Henry hasn’t shown he’s a pro…but will likely try to go the pro route
  • The other centers can’t stay on the floor or out of the doghouse and are reaching the end of their eligibility. Think someone like Bingham might want to go somewhere he plays 25 minutes as a senior?

I’d expect a lot of attrition and for multiple reasons. This idea that MSU never has transfers in or out is a bit silly to me. I know it hasn’t happened in a while but it isn’t like it has never happened.

The guarantees to me are: Akins, Brooks, Christie, Kithier, Hauser, Sissoko, Hoggard, Hall
Likely: Watts (I’ll believe a starter transfers from MSU when I see it)
Someone from here needs to go to make room, but MSU probably wants them: Henry, Bingham, Marble
No room for them at all: Loyer, Brown

The combination of all the Cs should be on the no room part, I guess. At least one HAS to transfer. In a perfect world for MSU fans, they lose Loyer, Brown, and Marble. That sets them up with some potential to be much better next year. In my perfect world, Loyer stays but Henry and Watts leave, and someone unexpected like Malik Hall.

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Look at this minutes distribution. This is for a team that is middling in tempo.

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Loyer is an easy scapegoat that we can come back to in a minute. I don’t remember the story at the time of if MSU was pushing hard for him or what. If they were and if they genuinely thought he was an answer - then that’s an issue. If they expected him to be a program-guy backup like Spike for four years and fill the void between top-40 PGs in Winston and Watts…that’s pretty normal.

I think the Hoggard vs. Terry decision is where you can point to an issue of talent identification. What did Izzo see in Hoggard? Has MSU been targeting too many combo guards and not enough pure point guards? Watts, Hoggard, and even Akins are combos rather than pure PGs. Maybe there’s a theme…or maybe the simple answer is that they put all of their chips on the table for Watts being the man and he’s fallen on his face.

See, I don’t see Loyer leaving at all. Why would he? He’s playing meaningful minutes and even starting at times for MSU and for reasons that sometimes defy logic he seems to have Izzo’s trust. Same with Kithier. I don’t see Izzo pushing them out the door based on his historical behavior and based on how he’s used them this year. I think both are locks to stay. What’s Loyer’s angle for leaving on his own? He wants more playing time? He’s probably looking at next year’s backcourt minutes and saying there are 80 minutes for Akins, Watts, and Me. Hoggard is behind me right now and may leave. Brown is behind me and in the doghouse. Langford is probably off to a retirement home.

The guys to me that are likely to move on would be upper classmen who aren’t currently playing (Bingham, Marble, Brown), guys looking for a fresh start elsewhere (Henry, Watts), or young guys who aren’t sure of their role in future years (Hoggard, Sissoko).

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That’s fair, which is why I put Kithier as a lock. And it would make sense to put Loyer in the same bucket as Kithier. But with Akins coming as a PG, Hoggard getting a year older, Watts being capable of playing PG, I don’t see Loyer getting many minutes. If Izzo plays Loyer over Akins MSU fans are gonna be apoplectic. If he plays over Hoggard than that’s huge yikes on Hoggard’s ability. So I was just having a hard time finding Loyer minutes, but he could stay and use his 5th year to transfer elsewhere.

So I could definitely see a scenario that he stays and Bingham/Marble both leave, like you said. Brown has gotta be a sure transfer at this point.

I don’t know. If Langford and Henry aren’t on next year’s team, I could see Izzo and Gabe convincing themselves that Gabe will play a big role next year and possibly start. I certainly don’t think he’s a lock to transfer. Honestly, I’d be more surprised if Gabe transfered than Watts. I don’t think this season is quite what Rocket was expecting and I could see him not wanting to risk next year being more of the same. He’s always had his eye on the league and that’s so far away right now with him at MSU. He may need a change of scenery to get there

The guy is a junior and his playing time has gone down all season. If Henry leaves, that could be enough to get him to stay, that is true. So it’s hard to completely project right now because there are 6 guys at least that could look to leave.

If Henry inexplicably returns, I agree that Gabe is for sure gone. I just don’t see a scenario where Henry comes back. He is what he is at this point and you don’t see guys that test the waters come back for more than one season very often

I joke about it all the time but Loyer is a captain of that team. I don’t see Izzo running off a guy who must bring something positive off the court to the group and I don’t see a player of Loyer’s caliber running to leave over being a two-time captain and getting that whole Spartan senior day kiss the floor BS send off.

Much more likely IMO that a guy like Watts says to himself “how is Loyer getting a bigger role than me” and chooses to leave.


That’s my take too. Why would Loyer worry about Hoggard after how things have played out this year? I also think that Loyer understands his ultimate role may be as a Spike-like backup to whoever wins the starting spot. Hit open shots, don’t turn it over, try to survive on defense, etc.

And Loyer still has the option of doing a grad transfer after next season. That’s when I could easily see both sides moving on.