Michigan State Spartans Season 34 recap
The end of the campaign offers a small amount of vindication for a tough regular season by winning the PIT. The early entry of Dwight Horner to the NBA and the recruiting fiasco that led to running a 'small ball' lineup presented coach netgymrat numerous challenges and frustrations. The initial setback was in scheduling as MSU finished the non-conference schedule with a 6-4 record and a strength of schedule in the mid 100's which did not bode well for conference play. Peering closer at the numbers, the record was 1-4 against RPI top 100 teams and 5-0 against the weaker teams. The resulting RPI meant that a lot of ground was needed to be made up if this squad was going to make the National Tournament.
The always tough Big Ten conference schedule proved challenging for a team that had been expected to contend for a conference title. The Spartans ended up being swept in heartbreaking fashion by conference leader Wisconsin, once going to overtime. Positive signs for this team could be found in upset wins against ranked Indiana at home and Purdue and Penn St. on the road, while cruising to solid victories against rebuilding Notre Dame, Iowa and Minnesota. On the discouraging side, top recruit George Lang found himself ineligible for most of the conference season after failing to hit the books as a freshman.
Even with the successful PIT run, the school administration is less than pleased with the status of the program. Although stating that the program is still 'meeting their expectations', it is clearly a thinly-veiled threat that they expect an annual appearance in the Big Dance.
As for the individual players on the team, a mixed bag as mirrors the season as a whole. On the positive side, Michael Damianio was once again named to the conference First team and became the school's all-time leading scorer. Two younger players Jimmy Vosburgh and Michael Krause were named to the All-conference second team. On a less positive note, Ryan Fuller made the decision to leave the team at the end of the season after being unhappy with his lack of playing time. The coaching staff has made it clear to freshman power forward Dalton Perkins that they were somewhat disappointed in his development during the season, probably due to his poor work ethic. His future on the team seems cloudy at best.