If you start sinking threes tomorrow, oh how fondly we would remember thee…
Hey, today would be fine too, no need to wait any longer to catch fire. The Spartans need Byrd to recapture the shooting touch that he is constantly labeled as having in order to get their half court set functioning well again. MSU can be all too easily defended at present in the half court due to the lack of a perimeter threat, as we all have seen. Teams are able to double down on Nix/Payne anytime a pass is thrown into the post because there isn’t a fear of reprisal in the form of a kickout and subsequent jump shot. It isn’t so much that Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne aren’t playing well, despite both of them averaging only 7 points per game, it’s the crowd they draw that limits their effectiveness in the paint. The Spartans have many great athletes; slashers that can attack the rim, but teams are selling out to defend against that and thus far there hasn’t been an answer aside from Keith Appling’s improved range. When teams can turn the Spartans into a jump shooting team, it’s bad news for MSU.
So far this season, Keith Appling is the only player consistently hitting his jumpers. Whether it’s his runners in the lane, or from three point land(42%, yes really!), he has stepped up his game. Gary Harris has done extremely well, shooting 50 percent from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arc. After these two, it’s a precipitous drop and that’s where Russell Byrd really needs to fit in. Injuries have slowed his progress and Izzo has been clear that he isn’t pulling the plug…..yet. By the time the B1G season looms, however, Byrd will have to display his worth as there will be no time for him to go looking for his shot at that juncture. Travis Trice is a known commodity, but having a productive Byrd to toss into the mix with him would be an incredible godsend.
I know he has looked bad, I know that I’ve poked fun at him as you probably have as well, but Russell Byrd has been a shooter in the past and certainly can be again. He has to stop passing up open looks and just let it fly because his trepidation is affecting the rest of his game. Shooters are streaky; it’s the nature of the beast and part of the reason why Izzo doesn’t stock too many on his team. Byrd was brought here to be “that guy” and it would serve the team well if he can let it all hang out in these next few games and settle into his role. If the Spartans can consistently generate some perimeter offense this team can achieve lofty goals.
Won’t you fly high, Free Byrd, yeah….