With debut in the books, Michigan State’s Max Christie settling in to key role – MLive.com

Michigan State's Max Christie (5) drives past Kansas' Jalen Coleman-Lands (55) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)AP
EAST LANSING – Michigan State coaches and players spent the preseason heaping plenty of praise on Max Christie, the Spartans’ five-star freshman who impressed in practices all through the summer and fall.
So it came as no surprise that in the Spartans’ season-opener, Christie played the most minutes and took the second-most shots of any player in their 87-74 loss to Kansas on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
And even though the performances wasn’t up to expectations – Christie shot 3-for-10 from the field and scored nine points – that’s done little to damper the high expectations for the freshman this season.
“Max just missed some shots, but he played pretty well,” Izzo said on Wednesday. “I’m more than happy with Max’s play, but he’s learning, too. That’s going to get better.”
The first look at Michigan State in 2021-22 showed a team that will need to have Christie playing a critical role as a freshman, given his clear talent level and shooting ability.
That’s a role Christie said he’s embracing just one game into his college career as the Spartans prepare for a Friday game against Western Michigan (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).
“It’s a challenge,” Christie said. “I like challenges, for me to take those shots, take a lot of shots on the team, especially as a freshman. It’s something I’ve worked hard for and I think it’s something that I’m capable of doing.”
Izzo wasn’t surprised to see his freshman struggle at times, given that the season-opener was against a top-three team on college basketball’s biggest early season stage. He thought his shots were mostly good ones that simply didn’t fall at as high of a rate as normal.
Christie also took the performance in stride.
“It’s the first game, some mistakes are expected,” Christie said. “I’m not really worried, it’s all easily fixable and I’ll fix them for sure.”
That refrain was heard often from Spartans players a day later following film review. While the Spartans were frustrated by the loss, issues like a high number of turnovers (16 total) and poor free throw shooting (9-for-16) are more eminently fixable than a plodding offense or porous defense.
“Knowing that it was a fixable thing, it did make it better,” Spartans forward Julius Marble said.
For Christie, some of those issues were on defense, particularly when he was forced to defend Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji, who had a game-high 29 points. But Izzo doesn’t expect any of Christie’s struggles to be very long-lasting.
“If you tell him something, he picks it up so quick,” Izzo said.
Izzo also thought his freshman wore down while playing a team-high 31 minutes. In the second half, as Michigan State tried to climb out of a hole, Christie took just two shots after taking eight in the first half. His increased workload came in part due to Gabe Brown’s foul trouble and limited minutes in the first half.
“I didn’t anticipate playing the most minutes on the team for sure,” Christie said. “Thirty-one minutes is a lot of minutes. But I know I’m capable of it. I’m in good enough shape for that and I’ve worked hard enough for that.”
While Izzo wants to manage his freshman’s workload, Michigan State will likely need Christie to play 31 minutes or more again this season. When that happens, Christie will be ready.
“As a first game, you have to just sort of watch a lot of film and see what you did wrong and what you did right and just build on it,” Christie said.
“Making sure you’re taking it with a grain of salt and not being too hard on yourself because it’s your first game.”
Buy Spartans gear: Fanatics, Nike, Amazon, Lids
Buy Spartans tickets: StubHub, SeatGeek, Ticketmaster
Stream Spartans games live: fuboTV, ESPN+ and Hulu + Live
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.
Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (User Agreement updated 1/1/21. Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement updated 5/1/2021).
Cookie Settings
© 2021 Advance Local Media LLC. All rights reserved (About Us).
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local.
Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site.

source