The Michigan State Spartans have plenty of really good basketball players. Goran Suton is a ridiculous rebounder. Kalin Lucas is one of the country's better point guards. Durrell Summers and Chris Allens are both fine scorers, and both can shoot the rock. But, most of all, there is Raymar Morgan. Raymar Morgan is the key to this game, namely how we end up defending him.
It isn't that we haven't been able to shut down some really good offensive players, or even contain them. It's more that we have no one on our team who matches up well with Mr. Morgan, like at all. Last year, we would have plenty of solutions. Darrell would have made the most sense, but Brandon certainly could have taken him at times, and Darnell could have spotted him as well. This year, though, there aren't so many options.
All year long, Brady has been assigned the task of matching up against the opposition's best player. He matched up with Chase Budinger of Arizona, holding him to only 5 points. He was the one selected to guard Temple star Dionte Christmas; he only gave up 14. And so, you'd have to figure that, if Michigan State has a star, it'd be Brady that would be matched up with him. Problem is, Raymar is 6'8". Brady, as good of a defneder as he is, is only 6'3". That is probably too much of a height differential to match Brady on him. So, if not Brady, who are the other options?
My list of potential solutions follows the break...
Solution #1 -- Marcus Morris
Marcus Morris has done little all year to prove he deserves such an assignment on the defensive side of the ball. I know this. It isn't that he's been terrible, just that he hasn't been great. And, usually, you try and get really good defenders on the opposition's best players. But height-wise and athleticism-wise, Marcus is clearly the best match we have to Raymar. They are both 6'8", and are both freak athletes. Raymar is more polished, a better overall player and likely even a better athlete. Still, Marcus is the best match-up, and will likely see plenty of time.
Solution #2 -- Markieff Morris
Likely, this will be the solution when his brother out. There isn't too much else to match him up with, really, and you'd have to imagine both of the Morris twins are as good as it is going to get when it comes down to it.
Solution #3 -- Cole Aldrich
I really doubt this happens. For one, Goran Suton is begging to be covered by Big Cole, and there really isn't anyone else who could effectively shut down Suton. However, more importantly, the last thing we want in this game is for Cole to get in foul trouble. That would be disastrous, and would basically eliminate us from winning the game. Still, if Raymar is going batshit crazy, don't be surprised to see us slide Cole over to help out, or maybe, possibly even covering him one-on-one.
Solution #4 -- 2-3 Zone
Honestly, this is my favorite option. We just don't match up with this team all that well man-to-man, and I'm not so sure I love the Morris twins having to take on Raymar. The terrible thing about this idea is Michigan State's prolific three-point shooting; they are shooting 40% as a team, good enough for 12th in the entire country. Still, I would want to test it out, to see how successful it is. Certainly don't go out there married to the 2-3 zone, but I don't want us simply lining up man-to-man and hoping we can contain Raymar.
So, yeah, those are the options. I thought about throwing in a perimeter player, but really the only two that would make any sense at all are Mario Little and Travis Releford. Everyone else is just too short. And those two, well, let't just say I hope they aren't matching up with Raymar.
Hopefully, I can get one more preview post up before the night is over. If not, I'll see you tomorrow morning/afternoon in the Open Game Thread.