1. A much-needed and long-awaited debut for this MSU basketball team
There’s not much to take from an 85-43 exhibition win over Hillsdale. More importantly, it was planned.
After weeks of watching a mid-talented football team fail, the MSU men’s basketball team took the court with the kind of roster that should compete very well in college basketball – five players with extensive starting experience, replaced by a line change of intriguing youngsters. players who received a massive ovation with 16:13 left in the first half. Izzo then made it clear that he would not use line changes once the real games began. But it added to the thrill of Wednesday.
2. Freshman Thoughts – The Hillsdale Exhibition Edition
I didn’t hear an ovation at the Breslin Center like when MSU’s four freshmen arrived for the first time Wednesday since Steven Izzo last checked in for cleanup. People have been waiting for this – for Jeremy Fears Jr., Coen Carr, Xavier Booker and Gehrig Normand to debut. It was just an exhibition game, but for now, it will do.
A few things stood out:
Fears is a tenacious two-way player – confident as heck offensively, never giving up on the defensive end. And he’s going to help MSU catch a break. He loves the early pass. Against Hillsdale, it largely worked – except for the time Carr fell. It will be interesting to see how often he tries it against longer, more athletic competitions.
As a rookie, I placed Fears in the Gary Harris/Miles Bridges category – the kind of big shot Izzo sometimes treated with kid gloves. As a point guard, you can already see it – Fears is going to get the full Izzo experience. On Wednesday, that included both stern conversations with Fears nodding and both arms around each other talking about what just happened.
RELATED: Couch: Tom Izzo can’t hide how he feels about Jeremy Fears Jr., talking about Michigan State’s freshman point guard
“Being able to play multiple positions, that’s one of the reasons they recruited me,” Carr said. “(The challenge) is more on the defensive side, guarding the bigger players.”
Booker’s skills stand out. He hit a somewhat contested 3-pointer from the left wing right out of the gate and another 3 later. These are all his six points. I think his basic mid-range jumper will be a weapon as well. He also had three blocked shots, but against smaller competition. I want to see Booker against top level and Division I competition before really evaluating him. Because that’s not only when he’ll be tested physically – he was moved up a bit on Wednesday by Hillsdale – but also at that point I think his skills and length could actually separate it. Against Hillsdale, MSU’s entire roster was athletically superior. It’s clear and Izzo said it Wednesday night: Booker will have to be better on the glass if he wants to play important minutes.
RELATED: Couch: MSU freshman Gehrig Normand is as modest as they come. But he knows he’s at MSU to make shots.
3. Tre Holloman isn’t going anywhere
There aren’t many definitive statements I’m willing to make after an exhibition game against Hillsdale. Here’s one: Tre Holloman won’t be left out of this game rotation, no matter how stocked and talented the backcourt is around him.
Holloman on Wednesday looked like a sophomore who learned a few things as a freshman — like what it takes to play. He understood last season that if he didn’t make mistakes, he would have a role as backup leader. He’s adapted, apparently understanding that if he’s going to play a role this year, it will largely be as a surprise second unit, often alongside freshman Jeremy Fears Jr.
Holloman scored nine points on five shots in 20 minutes Wednesday night (with four assists), with two of his buckets lost in the jubilation of a freshman bucket right before his own — his 3-pointer right after a triple from Xavier Booker and a solid drive. and scoring while being fouled while the crowd was still buzzing after Coen Carr’s opening dunk.
Contact Graham Couch at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.