Got our first look at the Michigan State basketball team Thursday and there is no doubt that there is plenty of talent all over the court.
It doesn’t mean coach Tom Izzo was exactly overjoyed, especially with the Spartans first game looming in roughly three weeks.
“I was disappointed a little bit, I think this was the worst practice we’ve had,” Izzo said. “I think you can see we can still go hard. We started moving some teams around, put different players with different teams and I think some guys didn’t handle it and some guys did handle it. We moved BJ (Branden Dawson) around a little bit. Some of it was that and we wanted to see what lineups, but still think they’re going hard. I think we’re still getting some things done. I think we had a day off and we didn’t look very sharp compared to what we’ve been. We still went awfully hard and got some things done, though, not bad.”
It was all pretty typical stuff for an early season practice.
Here some other interesting tidbits that came from Thursday’s practice:
- Russell Byrd was an interesting pick as a captain but there is no doubting the impact he could have if he becomes an efficient shooter. On Thursday, he struggled, but Izzo said it hasn’t been the case so far. “Byrd has been shooting the ball well, tonight I don’t know if he made a shot the poor guy,” Izzo said. “But he got a lot of good shots. (Derrick) Nix is starting to set better picks, AP (Adreian Payne) is starting to set better picks. That’s a treat for us cause if they set better picks we’re gonna spring him. If we spring him he’s gonna have some open looks. But him and (Keith) Appling have shot the ball very well in practice up until today when he didn’t shoot it as well.”
- Izzo said he expects to play 10 players this season, and two of those battling for a spot are sophomore Alex Gauna and freshman Matt Costello. “You can see sometimes Costello does some good things sometimes Gauna does some good things,” Izzo said. “But Gauna has been playing pretty well, so has Matt and tonight they both looked a little “deer-in-the-headlights at times.” … They both have been pretty even on some things. One does one thing better, one does the other. Matt rebounds a little better, Alex shoots it a little better. They may both play, too.”
- Izzo continues to be impressed by the recovery of sophomore Branden Dawson, who is recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in the final regular season game last year. “He’s jumping better, he’s been rebounding two hands and that’s usually a dead giveaway,” Izzo said, admitting Dawson still isn’t in great shape. “If he’s rebounding with one hand he’s kind of protecting himself and there is none of that and he’s handling the ball so much better.”
- Center Derrick Nix is making a concerted effort to be more vocal in practice. Izzo admitted he has reached the level of Draymond Green, but Nix has been working hard on his leadership early on. Nix has also been working hard on his conditioning in the off-season and it has showed. That will be important considering Izzo hopes to get 25 minutes or more a game out of both Nix and Payne. “That’s exactly what I said in the huddle,” Izzo said. “I said ‘Rate our guys, who was least tired?’ One guy said Nix, one guy said Appling, one guy said Harris and I would kind of agree with all three. To even have that come out of our mouths on Nix, that’s not the norm. He didn’t come out much as you saw. He dogged it a couple times but not very much, so I think he’s in way better shape. He’s running the court. Last year he had that run that looked like a hippopotamus. This year he just goes. I told him I watched him on film I said, ‘Man, you run like a runner now.’ “