How to beat Michigan State

Sports Illustrated Run your offense at center Andre Hutson. "If you get him in foul trouble, they lose their offensive presence in the post," says an assistant coach. "Then you can play them differently." Force anyone but the Spartans' guards to handle the ball, as only Mateen Cleaves and Charlie Bell have more assists than turnovers. Michigan State could be bamboozled by a zone: The Spartans have seen only one in their last 23 games -- against Syracuse in the NCAAs -- and they went dormant against it for long stretches.

Here are outtakes from a scouting report prepared by one of Michigan State"s victims in these NCAAs: "[Cleaves] doesn't have great dribble moves, and his left hand is suspect. He will take the ball to the basket, but he has a tendency to get out of control. The big guys might be able to come over and take a charge.... Take away [Bell's] dribble penetration.... Get up on [forward A.J.] Granger and force him to put the ball on the floor.... [Forward Morris Peterson] is only averaging one assist per game, so play him to score. And try to play physical with him." Indeed, in the second round Utah's Alex Jensen was able to body Mo Pete into a terrible first half.

Issue date: April 3, 2000