By Josh Mansour
THE STATE NEWS
Dribbling the ball on the fast break, Gary Harris had one man in front of him and hadn’t decided what he was going to do.
He could use his speed to blow by the defender to the rim.
He could pull up and drain a 15-foot jump shot.
But instead he just decided to soar.
Harris leaped over Texas Southern’s sophomore guard Madarious Gibbs, with an effortless finger-roll layup in the second half on Sunday, displaying the natural athleticism and potential that made the former five-star recruit a coveted player out of Fishers, Ind.
Harris and the Spartans will return to the hardwood when the No. 15 MSU men’s basketball team (2-1) takes on Boise State (3-0) Tuesday (8:00 p.m., Big Ten Network) at Breslin Center.
The Broncos are led by a pair of dynamic sophomore guards, Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic, who both do damage offensively and in attacking the glass.
Marks is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16 points with five rebounds a game in the early season, while Drmic leads the Broncos in rebounding with 7.3 boards and 15.7 points per contest.
Drmic also is Boise State’s biggest outside shooting threat, shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc.
Both the Spartans and Broncos opened their home season against Texas Southern, with Boise State pummeling the Tigers 81-63 nearly a week and a half ago.
After the Spartans’ 69-41 win over Texas Southern on Sunday, Harris said he’s beginning to feel more at home performing at the college level.
“I’m definitely starting to get more comfortable,” Harris said.
“The upperclassmen and everybody else have just been giving me confidence going out there and playing. These guys are easy to play with, so it’s easy to mesh with these guys out there on the court.”
Harris’ success was recognized Monday when the conference announced he was named Big Ten freshman of the week after averaging 18.5 points per game in a pair of Spartan victories, including knocking off then-No. 7 Kansas.
Despite Harris’ success, MSU head coach Tom Izzo said there’s still more he’d like to see from his freshman guard.
“Gary has been as solid as anybody,” Izzo said. “He is running the court, hitting open shots, he’s always ready to shoot. I think he’s been very unselfish. He gets 10 shots, but I think he let every one come to him.
“If I had to pick a negative with Gary, and I will, he’s not rebounding like I think he can. I think he could be a phenomenal rebounder, but he’s not rebounding the ball very well.”
And as the Spartans work to get ready for what’s expected to be a brutal gauntlet in the Big Ten, Harris said there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“Just all around. At times, we need to play better defense, we need to crash the boards more, become more efficient on offense,” he said.
“I think we need to improve in all aspects to get ready for Big Ten season.”