I think they're a big man short of being title contenders next year, but they could be a Top 10 team and contend for the Big Ten crown. Then again, everyone thought the same thing in 2006, 2004 and 2002, and they finished all those years outside the Top 25 and losing in Round 1 of the tourney.
Tom Izzo's one of my favorite people in all of sports- he is bar none the most entertaining coach on the sidelines in basketball, in my opinion- and MSU is probably my second-favorite program in the country. But since the three straight Final Fours, Izzo has had a lot of teams underachieve on him- even the '05 Final Four team wasn't quite as good as expected until the great run in March- and I never really see him face much criticism. A lot of really successful coaches at big-time programs have faced more criticism for less "failure" (relatively speaking) in recent years: Self, Tubby, Weber, Lute, even Coach K, just to name a few. I don't think any of them have had teams that underachieved as much, relative to their supposed talent, as some of Izzo's teams in recent years, yet they've all faced their share of backlash for varying reasons, either from their own fans, from the outside, or both. (This year wasn't one of them. They were as good as they could've been, maybe even a little better.)
Again, I'm gonna duck the lightning bolt for even mildly criticizing Izzo, because I love the guy and he's a Hall of Famer, but still. Had to be said.
I agree with Izzo not getting criticized as much as he deserves. He also doesn't get mentioned for all of the good things too. I didn't hear **** about him this year coaching a average team to such a competitive season.
I mean, I heard some experts say "they really passed our expectations", but no credit to Izzo.
This is more over the last few seasons though. He's kinda of forgotten in a way.
As for MSU needing a big man. I'd love for them to have a consistent scorer down low, but i think most teams in the nation would love to have the 4-5 man rotation MSU does..
Suton has the skills on offense, but not much else right now, Gray has the heart, rebounding and can score a bit, but is raw, Naymick has no offense, but is steady on defense and doesn't make mistakes on either end and Ibok is simply a shot blocker. Don't know what Herzog is gonna do.
For the second time in the last few years, I think an Illinois player that almost picked Michigan State is gonna keep them from possibly winning it all. The '05 team with Dee Brown at the point would've been the Mateen Cleaves MSU team all over again, only more talented. The '08 team with Shaun Pruitt in the middle would be a real title contender.