Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Haslem plans to toughen up for U

December 6, 2000

Udonis Haslem’s 27 points were lost amidst MSU’s convincing 89-76 win over Florida in the 2000 national championship game.

The Gator center shot 10-of-12 from the field and made all seven of his free throws in 28 minutes on the court.

But MSU will be ready for Haslem this time.

“We’ll be prepared for him this year,” MSU senior forward Andre Hutson said. “He did a lot of things well. He pretty much pulled everything out of the bag.”

Haslem, a 6-foot-8, 265-pound center, said he’s unsure what to expect from the Spartans.

“Right now I’m kind of on edge because I don’t know how they’re going to guard me,” Haslem said. “If I do get double-teamed then I’m going to have to pass out to my teammates for open shots.”

MSU head coach Tom Izzo expressed concern about facing the physical Miami native.

“One area of big concern for me is we couldn’t guard Haslem last year, and he’s much improved this year,” Izzo said.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan agreed with Izzo’s analysis.

“Udonis has gotten better, and he’s more athletic and has more experience now,” Donovan said. “He has a better understanding of the game.”

This year, Haslem is averaging 18 points and 9.3 rebounds a game. His 18 points are second on the team after guard Teddy Dupay’s 22 points a contest.

Haslem said he’s excited about the opportunity for revenge against the Spartans.

“It’s a chance to gain a little respect,” he said. “I just have to do the little things and work hard, because I know (MSU defenders) are going to force me to.”

Haslem’s No. 50 on his jersey might as well be a bull’s-eye tonight, because MSU is intent on keeping the big man under wraps.

“He did a great job of taking it at us last year,” Hutson said.

Izzo will likely deploy several different defenders at Haslem, including Hutson, sophomore forward Al Anagonye and freshman center Zach Randolph.

Senior guard Charlie Bell said the perimeter players will have to help the forwards contain Haslem.

“It’s going to be tough for Zach, because he’s just a freshman,” Bell said. “It’s going to take a lot of guys to go down there and help.”

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