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Advance look at Michigan State: An opposing coach breaks down the Spartans

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Michigan State will be one of the nation's top teams this season (Getty Images)

In the "Advance Look" series, Yahoo Sports will ask coaches who have faced some of the nation's top teams in preseason exhibition games to share their post-game thoughts and a scouting report. Up next: Grand Valley State coach Ric Wesley on Michigan State

To be even remotely competitive at Michigan State on Tuesday night, Grand Valley State coach Ric Wesley felt he needed a big man capable of scoring in the paint.

Unfortunately for Wesley, neither Indiana's Noah Vonleh nor Michigan's Mitch McGary were available on loan for the night.

"We'd have been willing to trade an assistant coach and a couple of players to be named later too," Wesley joked.

[Related: Eight mid-majors with the potential to make Cinderella runs in March]

Relying on contested jump shots instead of points in the paint, Grand Valley State played into Michigan State's hands by providing long rebounds that fueled fast-break chances. The result was a 101-52 rout behind 17 points from point guard Keith Appling, 15 from shooting guard Gary Harris and 14 from reserve Travis Trice.

Below are Wesley's thoughts on Michigan State. He weighs in on how this Spartans team compares to squads of years past, what his defensive game plan would be against Michigan State and whether the team is better playing big with Branden Dawson on the perimeter or small with Dawson at power forward.

Grand Valley State coach Ric Wesley:

1. "I was really impressed how strong Michigan State was top to bottom. I've been at Grand Valley for 10 years, we've played them several times, and I don't remember a time when I was more impressed. They have size, speed, athletic ability and great depth. They're bringing guys off the bench that are third- and fourth-year players -- guys who have been in big games before -- so they don't really lose much. Our hope was that we could protect the basket a bit and make them beat us from the outside. Well, they made 14 threes. If they do that regularly, I'm not quite sure if they have a weakness."

2. "They got so many transition opportunities. They got so many easy baskets. Their size and strength and their ability to defensive rebound and get the break going is what absolutely destroyed us. I think that's going to be a strength for them all season."

3. "Who has a four-year point guard as experienced and as good as Keith Appling or a four-year big man as talented as Adreian Payne? That just doesn't happen in college basketball anymore. Those guys have been good players for four years. They're back, they're veterans and they're playing at a different level than other guys."

4. "I would think Tom [Izzo] is very happy with Appling today. His ability to get to the rim is pretty well known, so when you add to that the ability to knock down the three, that's a pretty complete guard, a pretty complete player."

5. "I think Tom feels like they like each other. There's a good cohesiveness. There's a good feel there. You feel like they've settled into their roles, everyone is comfortable and everyone knows what they're expected to do. I think they're headed for a really good season. There's always bumps in the road, but their depth makes you think they can afford some bumps in the road."

6. "It's a nice luxury having the ability to go big with two big men or to go small and slide Branden Dawson to the four. Every game is different. Every matchup is different. It allows them to change their look a bit. They can play skill or play power. But regardless of what they do, what makes them so difficult is they maintain their defensive focus and intensity. ... Dawson handled the ball well on the perimeter last night but when you slide him to the four, they're not that undersized. He's a big, strong guy. No matter how they go, they can't go wrong. They have lots of options."

7. "I would think you want to pack in the defense, limit their looks around the basket and hope they don't shoot well from the outside. The other thing is you've got to have good interior offense. We weren't able to generate enough inside game to back them up and make them guard us around the basket. When you're taking a lot of long shots, it results in a lot of long rebounds. With their speed and quickness, they're just off to the races."

More from the Advance Look Series:

An opposing coach breaks down Louisville
An opposing coach breaks down Arizona

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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