Michigan State gets a chance to end its two-game losing streak on Saturday when Purdue visits the Breslin Center. We’ll take a closer look at how freshman Brandan Kearney (Detroit Southeastern) has gone from the scout team to a regular contributor.
Until then, here are some items left over that coach Tom Izzo addressed after practice on Thursday:
On the play of freshman Branden Dawson:
“I’m happy with the way he practiced today but I’ve not been happy with how he has practiced. I think he’s starting to learn what is the difference. It’s like telling my son, ‘How was school today? It was good. Well, that means you got C’s, who cares?’ (For Dawson it’s) ‘I did a good job in practice. Good is a 15-win season.’ That has been a hard thing for him to grasp. I think the last game helped him, too. I always say you learn from wins you learn from losses. A lot of times you’ve got to go through some damaging blows to get yourself back up and I think for him and (Brandon) Wood, I’ve got a feeling we’re gonna see a big improvement in that.
“What’s been hard for me is we’ve had some success with this team, but the youth and inexperience is still worrisome for me, especially when I have two or three of them on the court at same time. But Branden is a man-child and he is good enough that I think he can play above. He wasn’t starry-eyed in that game, he just didn’t go as hard as he needs to go. But he wasn’t nervous about anything, he could take on half the arena. It’s just a problem of how hard can he go on regular basis?”
On possible changes to the starting lineup:
“I’ve contemplated three guys not starting, to be honest. Early on I was gonna start Nix early in the year, but it’s a little like Delvon and Day-Day, who’s better coming off the bench? I hate to change Nix right now because he’s in a pretty good frame of mind and playing well. His minutes might change, but he understands the game. Because the other thing you do when you don’t start somebody and he’s a freshman, he doesn’t get as many reps (in practice). Nix can stand under the basket and he can understand what’s going on. Sometimes that is harder for (Dawson), he’s got to be in it.”
On his impression of Purdue:
“A hard, tough team. They play so hard and tough. It’s Gene Keady’s teams reincarnated and you know, they’re not real big inside. If there’s a weakness, maybe that’s a weakness. (Robbie) Hummel’s played awfully well. But the guy that’s stepped it up two notches in the Big Ten season is the kid (D.J.) Byrd. He’s hitting 50 percent of his 3′s, 40 percent of those are from 30 feet out. He shot some of the longest 3′s I’ve ever seen when he went 5-for-6 against Minnesota. So, I think it’s a team that checks very well, turns it over very little, is very efficient offensively and has got three guys that can knock down long-range 3′s.”
On Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, who is coming back from missing last season with a knee injury:
“He’s still a great kid, a great player. Is he quite the same? I would say maybe he struggles on that first step a bit compared to what he did and maybe rebounding here and there compared to what did. But if I looked at, Robbie Hummel has always been one of my favorite players in the league and what he’s done and what he’s gone through he remains that. He’s a big reason why they’re a contender right now.”