5 encouraging signs for MSU basketball fans from Moneyball's opening night (2024)

Nathaniel BottLansing State Journal

HOLT – The 19th Moneyball Pro-Am kicked off Tuesday night. The annual summer showcase allows Michigan State basketball fans to see the upcoming roster compete against each other and other current and former college players in a relaxed but competitive environment.

MSU has five newcomers — three incoming freshmen and two transfers — joining the roster, as well as several returners who will be in increased or different roles.

Here are five early but encouraging signs for Spartan fans following Tuesday's opening night.

Jaxon Kohler looks to be in the best shape of his MSU tenure

Junior post player Jaxon Kohler was flying up and down the court on Tuesday night, scoring 33 points while knocking down two 3-pointers and showing off an array of crafty moves in the post.

Kohler's total recovery from last season's foot injury was apparent as he showed quickness handling the ball going the length of the court after rebounds.

Kohler, who dominated the Moneyball Pro-Am last season with three games over 40 points and one 53-point game, took a noticeable leap physically summer before his injury. He looks to be on that same path, with a leaner, stronger frame as he prepares for a major role in the post for MSU this winter.

Coen Carr shows off improved shooting, ball handling

Coen Carr's athleticism is the main showcase for a setting like Moneyball, and he he did throw down a handful of his normal high-flying dunks Tuesday. But the sophom*ore also displayed needed improvement in his shooting, showing a more fluid stroke and knocking down three 3-pointers and a few mid-range jumpers, among his 28 points.

Carr also took charge as a ball handler, taking outlet passes on the fast break and playing with pace after missed shots. Carr was often limited to camping out in the corner on offensive possessions for MSU last season, looking to charge the offensive glass or find an opportunity for lobs at the rim. He said he's hoping to change that this season by working on his jump shot and being more engaged as a ball handler and driver.

Kur Teng displays motor and mid-range offensive game

Tuesday night's first game saw four newcomers on MSU's roster right out of the gate, and outside of Omaha transfer Frankie Fidler, freshman Kur Teng was the most impressive in showing hustle, defensive intensity and mid-range offensive skill.

While Fidler finished with 32 points and scored his team's first 10 points, Teng's Team Goodfellas ultimately won the game, and it was Teng's pick-pocket steal and dunk that sealed the victory.

Teng only took two 3-pointers, banking one of them in, but knocked down a handful of mid-range jumpers. The standout trait was his energy, and in a setting like Moneyball where players often take some plays off, particularly on defense, Teng showed consistent effort on every possession.

Chemistry appears strong – particularly amongst the newcomers

As Team Tri-Star and Team Motocars wrapped up the final game of the opening night at Moneyball, all of the incoming freshman and returning sophom*ores were still in attendance, whether on the bench or in the front row.

Throughout the game, there was laughter, dancing during dead balls, and tons of cheers for the players on the court. Sophom*ore Jeremy Fears the lone Spartan not participating in the Pro-Am, was there for every game, cheering whenever someone made a good play.

Afterward, freshman Jase Richardson said that it was important from day one that the team, in particular the newcomers, were tight-knit and spent time together outside of the gym.

Fidler, Booker will be vital to MSU's success

Transitioning from the Summit League to Big Ten basketball is going to be a challenge, but Fidler clearly has the tools to be a key contributor for the Spartans.

MSU lacked timely shooting from deep last season, but Fidler, a 6-foot-8 forward shot nearly 36 percent from 3-point range. And with the Spartans' preferred up-tempo style, he should have plenty of chances to step into what he described as his favorite shot — 3-pointers in transition. Fidler shouuld also help fill a void left by the graduation of Malik Hall as a wing who can create his own offense late in shot clocks.

Sophmore Xavier Booker looks a bit more physically imposing coming into this summer, and he had a solid opening game with 19 points and three 3-pointers. Booker looks improved as a screener, setting numerous solid picks that helped teammate Jaden Akins pour in five 3-pointers.

Booker is going to have a much bigger role this season with the departures of Hall and Mady Sissoko. Booker, as a stronger screener and rebounder, paired with his outside shooting ability, should improve the Spartans' spacing offensively.

Contact Nathaniel Bott at nbott@lsj.com and follow him on Twitter @Nathaniel_Bott

5 encouraging signs for MSU basketball fans from Moneyball's opening night (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Last Updated:

Views: 6056

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Birthday: 1999-09-15

Address: 8416 Beatty Center, Derekfort, VA 72092-0500

Phone: +6838967160603

Job: Mining Executive

Hobby: Woodworking, Knitting, Fishing, Coffee roasting, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Kite flying

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Refugio Daniel, I am a fine, precious, encouraging, calm, glamorous, vivacious, friendly person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.