Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Izzo pushes for freshmen to mature fast

November 27, 2000

Your average freshman athlete enters college with the expectation of contributing in a limited role, but Marcus Taylor and Zach Randolph aren’t your average freshmen.

Both men’s basketball players are consensus the top 10 freshmen in the country and are expected to contribute immediately.

MSU head coach Tom Izzo has wasted no time working guard Taylor and center Randolph into games. Both have continued to receive considerable minutes during the regular season.

“They’re going to have to grow up a little quicker than maybe they’re ready to grow up,” Izzo said. “We don’t have time to wait and let the maturation process happen God’s way. It’s going to have to happen quicker than that.”

Izzo said he’s pushing the freshmen because MSU’s Big Ten success will depend on how quickly Taylor and Randolph can adjust to collegiate basketball.

In MSU’s first regular-season game against Oakland, Taylor posted 16 points in just 20 minutes. Izzo said that’s what he wants to see, but added he knows they will still make freshman mistakes.

In Saturday’s championship game of the Coca-Cola Spartan Classic against Eastern Washington, Taylor’s inexperience became evident. In 20 minutes he scored just four points with three assists while committing five turnovers.

“I got a little frustrated tonight and tried to make a couple of plays I shouldn’t have tried to make,” Taylor said after the game. “But it’s going pretty good.”

Inconsistency has been an issue for Randolph as well.

In the final exhibition game against the Harlem Globetrotters, Randolph showed signs of brilliance with 17 points, but during the two-game Classic combined to score a total of 17 points.

Taylor said they can’t worry about past performances. He said they both have to learn from their mistakes and focus on moving forward.

“I don’t feel any pressure on me,” he said. “I just got to go out there and get the job done.”

Cornell point guard Wallace Prather said Taylor and Randolph add to an already deep MSU lineup.

“They bring in 13 or 14 guys and they’re not really losing a lot,” he said. “They just wear you down.”

In three regular-season games, Taylor and Randolph are averaging 8.6 points in 19.3 minutes and 7.6 points in 18.6 minutes, respectively.

With No. 7 North Carolina coming to Breslin Student Events Center on Wednesday, Taylor said MSU needs to play its best basketball. He said he and Randolph will be counted on to play valuable minutes, with players like guard Joseph Forte and center Brendan Haywood coming to East Lansing.

“I’m just looking forward to getting out there and playing against North Carolina,” he said. “I’m just going to get out there and be comfortable and try to play my game.”

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