Photo: Flickr Creative Commons -- Senior transfer Brandon Wood probably didn't get the credit he deserved this year, but he was an effective player, nonetheless. He performed well during one year with Michigan State.
By Adam Biggers
Expectations were high for Brandon Wood. But he lived up to them.
The senior transfer from Valparaiso had never played in the Big Ten, or major college conference, prior to joining the Michigan State Spartans for the 2011-12 season. He had lit up the scoreboard while in the Horizon League with Valpo, averaging 17 points per game over a two-year span.
Although his numbers at Michigan State were down when compared to his numbers at Valpo, Wood played well for the Spartans, helping to lead them to a Sweet 16—their 10th under coach Tom Izzo.
Wood averaged 8.8 points per game, an average that doesn't immediately suggest he was all that effective. However, he unleashed his true scoring ability in March and in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, a stage he said he wanted to play on; hence, he transferred to a program that dances each March.
Against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game, Wood had his finest game with Michigan State. He shot 8-for-14 from the floor and scored 21 points in the Spartans' 68-64 victory. Although he shot just 1-for-4 from the line, his accuracy from the field and 21 points more than made up for it.
Sure, Wood was a bit up-and-down. But again, keep in mind the transition from the Horizon League to the Big Ten is a large one. I anticipated 8-10 points per game from him, figuring they would be enough to keep him on the floor with steady minutes.
A seven-point performance in the tournament-opener against LIU-Brooklyn left a little to be desired. But Wood followed with 10 points in the Spartans' hard-fought victory over St. Louis in the Round of 32.
He was one of the lone bright spots in the Spartans' 57-44 Sweet 16 loss to Louisville, which featured a defense that led it to the Final Four. Michigan State couldn't get production from anyone, but Wood, new to the March Madness that surrounded him, shot 5-for-8 from the floor and scored 14 points in 31 minutes. He and Draymond Green were the only two Spartans in double-figures.
Particularly impressive were his two standout games against Duke and Florida State, both of which made the tournament and were two of the strongest teams in the ACC. Wood scored 15 in a 74-69 loss to then sixth-ranked Duke, adding 16 two weeks later in a 65-49 victory over Florida State.
When the Spartans needed a boost, Wood came through. With Green dominating nearly every game, or nights when Keith Appling let loose, Wood blended in. But when others had off-shooting nights, or the Spartans needed a shot from the wing, Wood was a player that could be counted on, despite an inconsistent, but efficient year.
However, don't get caught up by looking at scoring stats alone (he was a decent facilitator, too). Wood's maturity, experience and leadership qualities probably didn't get enough press. Those were his best attributes. It helped having another level-headed veteran to complement Green and Austin Thornton.