Michigan State played 32 minutes of pretty darn good basketball against Texas last night. The as-good-as-advertised Longhorns finally pulled away with a late game surge and put the game out of reach. In the critical moments in the latter half of the game, the Spartans played poor perimeter defense and lacked a tough interior presence. But what was most evident was that Michigan State desperately needed senior leadership.
Michigan State's preseason ranking of #2 in the country was based off of their four returning starters from the 2008-2009 National Championship runner-up squad, including reigning Big Ten MVP Kalin Lucas. On paper they look like they are a top five team in the nation, but there is something missing from last year's team: veteran leadership from Goran Suton and Travis Walton.
Last night was another example of a team corralling Kalin Lucas and making someone else beat them, giving up way too many threes and steadiness at the post. The Spartans are getting inconsistent play from a few players, and one in particular needs to get called out.
Raymar Morgan is the lone senior on the team this year, and needs to step his game and his role on the team up drastically. The Texas game was yet another big game that Morgan was all but absent for. He got into early foul trouble again last night and only took five shots from the field. His versatility and athletisicm to play three positions, along with his veteran experience, are going to be crucial for this team to win the Big Ten and make a run into late March like last season.