Michigan State Spartans forward Miles Bridges shoots during the second half of MSU's 90-70 loss to Kansas in the second round of the 2017 NCAA tournament at BOK Center on March 19, 2017 in Tulsa, Okla.(Photo: Brett Rojo, USA TODAY Sports)CONNECT>TWEET>LINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE
Nathaniel Bott is an MSU writer for the Michigan-based sports website isportsweb.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Detroit Free Press nor its writers. Read isportsweb's column every Monday. Follow Nathaniel on Twitter @Nathaniel_Bott.
“I got some unfinished business here, and I’m just saying that I want to stay.”
That sentence came from the mouth of Michigan State sophomore Miles Bridges 10 days ago.
(Never thought "sophomore" would be an adjective used to describe Bridges.)
Bridges' announcement was greeted with cheers from the couple thousand Spartans fans who had surrounded the media gathered in front of the Spartan statue on campus.
Bridges' teammates stood behind him -- ecstatic -- as did coach Tom Izzo and his staff. Bridges was later joined by his family, who, despite some pushes from his mother and sister to declare for the NBA draft, supported his decision 100%.
Bridges is a bona fide star -- and Izzo's highest rated recruit ever -- returning in a quest to win a national championship. That’s beyond a big deal. But it’s impact goes beyond the stat sheet.
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It’s not just the fact that Bridges will play a lot at small forward, his natural position, with senior forward Gavin Schilling returning from injury and incoming freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. likely joining the playing rotation.
One word sums up the biggest impact of Bridges' return –– swagger.
That’s pretty ironic, considering that the biggest trait Bridges’ coaches, teammates and friends rave about the most is his humility. Basketball is a team sport for a reason.
Following Bridges' announcement, I asked forward Nick Ward how he thinks this unit will be next season.
He answered, without hesitation: “Scary.”
And what are the other teams in the Big Ten and college basketball overall thinking about Bridges' return?
“Damn,” Ward said.
With summer workouts and training coming up, the Spartans' mindset has now changed immensely.
MSU's mind-set seems to have been fortified now that Bridges is back for another season.
“Whoever wants some, they can come get it,” MSU guard Cassius Winston said.
That’s not the quote you would’ve heard from a freshman guard last season before facing a daunting schedule against some of the top-ranked teams in the nation.
Even entering a sophomore season following a second round exit in the NCAA tournament, that quote would be hard to find in any locker room. That’s the Bridges effect. The confidence and swagger of the team seemed to increase 10-fold due to his decision.
The roster seems to be exhibiting the swagger that would normally come after returning the major pieces of a Final Four run the previous year. Or a team looking to repeat as Big Ten champions.
A team with this lineup -- with this swagger -- will be very scary.