In his first two years at Michigan State, Matt Costello has gotten to play alongside Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne. That won’t be the case in 2014.
Costello is going to be relied upon as the go-to big man for the Spartans next season. The only other option at the position in Gavin Schilling, who has a lot of potential but isn’t exactly an impact player, so Costello will need to shoulder the load at the center position.
So much of the Michigan State basketball team’s success under Tom Izzo has come because of his team’s ability to rebound, and one of the keys to a good rebounding team is having a big man that knows how to carve out space down low. Derrick Nix was an expert at using his body to get into good rebounding position, and although Costello doesn’t have Nix’s size, he can still learn from what Nix was able to do and use it to improve his own game.
Costello averaged 3.3 rebounds per game last season while playing just 14.7 minutes per contest. That isn’t a bad number, but he will see his minutes increase significantly next season and if his rebounding numbers don’t increase simultaneously, Michigan State could find itself getting outrebounded consistently.
Branden Dawson is extremely effective on the glass, but he does a lot of his work on the offensive end which means Costello will be crucial to MSU’s efforts on the defensive glass.
Another area that Costello will need to improve upon this upcoming season is his scoring. He showed very little offensive game his freshman year, but last year he showed some flashes of scoring potential. He stepped up when Michigan State was dealing with it’s rash of injuries and showed the ability to score when the team needed him to. The team will need him to provide much more scoring next season after losing three of the top four scorers from a season ago.
Matt Costello will never be an Adreian Payne-type player who terrorizes defenses with his offensive game, but he has the potential to become a good post scorer for Michigan State. He has proven that he can make a cut and finish at the rim, but his back to the basket game has yet to be consistent. The keys to gaining consistency in his post game are his footwork and patience. If he gets his footwork down and doesn’t panic when he gets the ball in the post, he has the chance to become a real scoring threat.
Where Costello has excelled in his career at Michigan State is at the defensive end of the floor. He is extremely adept at using his size to disrupt shooters and doing so without fouling. He doesn’t have elite lateral quickness, but he is rarely out of position and always seems to be there to contest shots at the rim. He tallied an impressive 1.3 blocks per game last year in limited minutes and looks to be the only true rim protector the Spartans have. Having a big man who is an elite defender does wonders for a team’s defense, which is why Costello will be so important to MSU next year.
His numbers don’t jump off the page, but Matt Costello will be arguably the most important player for Michigan State next season. He will anchor the defense, provide consistent rebounding numbers and will be leaned upon to become more of a scorer. Michigan State’s chances of success next season will depend largely on Matt Costello’s performance–Spartan fans need to hope he’s up for the challenge.
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