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Wednesday, January 29, 2014


The Michigan State Basketball team would be best-served by Branden Dawson as the sixth-man in the rotation when he returns from his hand injury. While Dawson has started many games for MSU, he should not be re-installed as a starter next month.

The team is going through a great evolutionary process without both Adreian Payne and Dawson, and Payne should be worked back into the starting lineup as soon as he's ready. When Payne is deemed capable of starting, he should do so.

But Dawson should be held back as a "super-sub", in a role much like Morris Peterson played in the late 1990's. This team needs something special coming off the bench, and Dawson has the versatility to shut down a hot scorer and/or take over the rebounding while attacking in transition. He seems perfectly well-suited to coming off the bench early in games, even if his total minutes played are equal to the starters.

This team is re-establishing (or re-discovering) its identity and personality, and the starting group should remain fixed without Dawson for the rest of this season. This will confound the opponent upon his entry into the game, it will give him a view of what's happening before he starts to compete, and it will provide a little bit of foul protection for him as he could not get whistled for that quick first foul. It would also allow him to take on the opposing starters when they are getting winded for the first time, possibly creating short-term mismatches.

I realize we're all focused on the return of Payne, and again, he should return to a starting role as soon as possible. But Dawson will be most effective and helpful to his team as the first player coming off the bench.

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