Expect to see…Gonzaga Edition

1. A Stockton dropping dimes and wearing normal-sized shorts.

David Stockon, a sophomore point guard for the Zags and the son of short-shorts wearing Hall of Famer  John Stockton, has only partially followed in his father’s footsteps. He is tied for the team lead with 2.7 assists per game — but does so wearing the same shorts as his teammates. In fact, because of his height —  5-foot-11 — his shorts hang far lower than his teammates. Is this disappointing? Absolutely. Nevertheless, the younger Stockton has shown an ability to distribute the ball, and also shoot a little bit, too. He is 8-of-12 from behind the arc this season.

2. A rebounding battle — that favors MSU.

Gonzaga has 7-footer Robert Sacre in the middle, and he averages 16.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. But his backups aren’t of the same talent and caliber, so expect to see a solid post rotation for MSU with Adreian Payne, Derrick Nix and Alex Gauna. Perimeter rebounding was key against a very tall Florida State team — Brandon Wood and Keith Appling combined for 17 rebounds — and a whole-team effort will be important again to help neutralize Sacre and limit the second-chance points for Gonzaga.

3. Izzo rotating slightly more judiciously.

The talk has been swirling for a couple weeks that Izzo wants to begin settling and 8- to 9-man rotation as Big Ten play approaches. This is the final legitimate test for this team, as it faces three middle of the run teams before opening Big Ten play against Indiana. The final spot is up for grabs between Russell Byrd, Brandan Kearney and Gauna. This game will be the ultimate chance for Gauna to show himself as a player against Sacre — if he can prove he can guard, he might cement himself in the rotation. Izzo has talked about Byrd playing some at the 4 to see if he can guard a little bit better there, and this might be a time where we see that.

4. Plenty of freshman point guards.

Michigan State’s Travis Trice has been a huge surprise, and already is an incredible talent. Gonzaga has its own freshman phenom in Kevin Pangos. Pangos averages more than 30 minutes per game, while dropping 14.3 point per game. He also is incredibly efficient with his shots, hitting 48.1 percent of his shots and 47.1 percent from three.

5. No lag from MSU playing on the West Coast.

The Spartans flew into Spokane on Thursday, giving themselves a couple days to adjust to the time difference. The tip is at 6 p.m. in Washington, 9 p.m. in East Lansing.

Michigan State should be able to exploit Gonzaga on the perimeter and try to force them into deep shots, especially with the volume of post players they will rotate to work on Sacre down low and keep the ball away from him. Wood, Trice, Appling should have nice games against the Zags. Branden Dawson and Draymond Green will present matchup challenges with their size and quickness.

Spartans roll, 71-63.

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Posted on December 10, 2011, in Basketball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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