Spartans host season-opening media day

Izzo optimistic heading into 2012-13 campaign

When Tom Izzo has stood in front of reporters for the MSU men’s basketball team’s media day in previous years, he knows he’s talked about the dream of having a team that can get out and run.

The difference is with a stable of relentless athletes, Izzo said the goal finally can be a reality.

“I have talked about it before and maybe didn’t have the personnel to do it, but maybe this is the personnel to do it and the depth to do it,” Izzo said.

Natalie Kolb / The State News

“I think any time you can wear people down it’s going to help us some. Plus … when you can have competitive practices every day, you’re going to get better as a team. Way better than you are if you have a competitive game once a week.”

As the Spartans attempt to move forward without the program’s all-time leading rebounder, Draymond Green, Izzo said the team must adjust without a “face of the program.”

“It is a different way, but I’m not sure the 2005 team kind of wasn’t like that,” he said.

“I think it’s harder when you don’t have a true face, but scouting reports are going to be harder for the opponents because I’m not sure who they’re going to need to check and they’re not going to be sure who they need to check.”

One of the team’s most electric athletes, sophomore forward Branden Dawson, has returned to his high-flying ways after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, at the end of last season.

Dawson said he’s able to do everything other players are able to do, and is excited to join a group that plays the same style as him, notably star freshman recruit Gary Harris, a guard and fellow Indiana native.

“I didn’t know he was coming here. He didn’t know I was coming here. So I would say guys get along like we’ve been playing (together) for a long time, and the chemistry is great,” Dawson said of Harris.

One player expected to make up the difference is junior guard Keith Appling, who said he’s excited to return to the fast-paced style of game that made him one of the country’s most dynamic guards out of high school.

Appling spent the offseason making 500 3-pointers a day, something Izzo credits with a significant improvement in his guard’s jump shot and raising his confidence on the offensive end of the floor.

“That’s one of the things coach wants to do anyway. He wants us to pressure guys this year and wear teams down,” Appling said.

More than the team’s youth, Izzo said it’s the moments at the end of games that concern him most.
“The one thing that is a problem is we need to figure out who we’re going to,” Izzo said.

“We knew we were going to put the ball in Draymond’s hands one way or another, and usually when you have a face, you’re always going through that guy. There will be times now where we don’t, and who are we going to go to? We’re going to have to figure that out. Time will tell.”

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