Branden Dawson needs to realize one of the aspects of his game for Michigan State if he hasn’t already: He’s going to help Michigan State contend for a national title if he stays consistent on his rebounding.
Dawson had a solid night on the boards Friday against Virginia Tech in an 96-77 victory in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The NCAA basketball top-ranked Spartans put together a starting lineup that only had two players with more than three rebounds, including Dawson and Adreian Payne with 10 apiece. Teams automatically assume that with those two in the lineup the Spartans are going to enjoy a strong rebounding advantage. Michigan State got out-rebounded in this game but obviously put together a passing and shooting offense that more than made up for it.
Even though he’s only 6-foot-6, the Spartans have finally convinced Dawson that he can be as valuable of a rebounder as a scorer for them. It’s taken him awhile to keep that in mind.
Last season Dawson was fifth in scoring at 8.9 points per game, which was fifth on the team, and third in rebounding at 5.9 boards per game. He had three double-doubles during the season.
Dawson is going to score a lot of points for Michigan State this season, but as he showed against Virginia Tech they also need him to rebound. If he keeps doing both very well the Spartans are going to stay No. 1 for awhile. They have shown some vulnerability early in the season and need to use all the weapons they have. That includes using Dawson as a potent rebounder who can help the Spartans be strong underneath against anyone.