As Michigan State enters the NCAA mens basketball tournament with the gift of a 10th seed, opening Thursday night against UCLA, many fans will assert that a key would be for senior Durrell Summers to end his season-long shooting slump.
I agree. But equally harmful to the Spartans have been the players who seem afraid to shoot, or even to handle the ball.
Kalin Lucas leads the team with 439 shot attempts in 33 games. Summers is next at 346 and Draymond Green has tried 332.
Too much of the burden falls on Lucas. Summers has been ice cold at 38 percent for the season. Green, no matter what the announcers keep saying, is not a natural post player or scorer.
A telltale sign of this problem was in the Spartans' only good performance of the Big Ten tournament, a blowout upset over Purdue.
Kebler went to the free throw line, and color commentator Dan Dakich made fun of himself by saying, "Kebler is a 90 percent free throw shooter. He's 9 of 10 for the season. Even I can figure that out."
Dakich didn't dwell on what should have been an obvious point. How can someone in the regular rotation, 10 minutes per game, have drawn only 10 free throws for the entire season? Kebler proceeded to swish both charity tries, advancing to 92.5 percent.
Moments earlier, the camera shows Coach Tom Izzo yelling in Kebler's ear for turning down an open shot.
Michigan State went into the team's trademark weave in the backcourt. As the small forward, Kebler was required to participate along with Lucas and Keith Appling. He handled the ball like a hot potato and seemingly couldn't wait to give is back to Lucas.
Kebler did make one aggressive, assertive play. With Purdue starting to rally, he broke into the passing lane to steal the ball and drove down the floor for a layup. He's clearly a top-notch athlete.
So why so timid?
Lucas has played good ball during recent weeks, but a fan watching closely will notice that he often gets tired late in the games. Other players such as Kebler, Thornton and Sherman need to step up, even if they miss some shots. They can't do worse than Durrell Summers.
- Sports & Recreation
- Durrell Summers
- Kalin Lucas