A new season brings new hope and three highly touted recruits to the team.
Tom Herzog, Raymar Morgan, and Isaiah Dahlman will make their debuts against the Lakers with a least a little pressure to fill the void left by the great veteran high-scoring trio of Maurice Ager, Paul Davis, and Shannon Brown, who all are playing in the NBA this season.
Coach Tom Izzo has a tough task ahead of him in pulling together a very young team that has no senior players on it.
Having only faced the Lakers once before, the Spartans will see a veteran team that returns four starters from last years team that went 27-4 and was ranked No. 4 in the Division II Coaches Poll.
The one meeting between the two clubs was back in 2004 at the Breslin Center, also an exhibition game. MSU won 77-62, outscoring GVSU 44-21 in the first half. Drew Neitzel and Drew Naymick made their Spartan debuts in that game, scoring 5 points and 6 points.
Although the projected starting lineup is still uncertain, it will include Neitzel and Walton in the backcourt with Maurice Joseph coming off the bench as well as Dahlman. Initially slated to start tonight's game, Raymar Morgan suffered a shoulder injury and reserve Maurice Joseph will start in his place. He's expected to split time with Marquise Gray. Goran Suton and Naymick should share time with Herzog at center.
As for the Lakers, guard Jason Jamerson (13.4 PPG), center Callistus Eziukwu (13.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.4 BPG), and forward Mike Hall (7.5 PPG) combine to lead coach Ric Wesley's team into a brand new year of hoops.
Having such a young team gives Tom Izzo depth at all spots, enabling him to keep a fresh set of players on the court at all times. The youth also allows Izzo to re-create a defensive minded mentality similar to some of his past Final Four teams.
Following Grand Valley, the Spartans will play 3 games in 5 days, with an exhibition game with Northern Michigan on Sunday (11/5), Brown on Wednesday (11/8) and facing Youngstown State/ Central Michigan on Thursday (11/9).
The contests held on Wednesday and Thursday are part of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.