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Anagonye accepts new role

January 18, 2001

It’s a simple fact of college basketball; If you can’t stay on the court, you can’t help your team win.

That’s been a constant battle for sophomore forward Aloysius Anagonye.

In his freshman season, where he averaged a foul every 4.9 minutes, it seemed he was whistled just for stepping on the court.

Not much has changed since this season began. Anagonye was averaging a foul every 5.1 minutes until head coach Tom Izzo removed him and senior guard David Thomas from the starting lineup.

“I’ve always believed in CD, which is coach’s decision,” Anagonye said about his move to the bench. “Right now I’m just doing what coach wants.”

Not only has Anagonye taken to the new role positively, his production has noticeably increased.

Averaging 17.9 minutes a game as a starter, Anagonye posted 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, but is averaging 19.5 minutes a game off the bench with 6.5 points and 3 rebounds per game.

Those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Constantly in early foul trouble as a starter, his minutes were scattered throughout the game. Coming off the bench has allowed Anagonye to play with more consistency.

“He’s done a great job since the day I told him he wasn’t starting,” Izzo said. “Not only has he accepted it, but he’s really grown to it. That’s not an easy thing to just accept.”

To Izzo’s surprise, the move has made Anagonye more comfortable. He said Anagonye has become more vocal and brought more intensity to practices.

Izzo said the foul trouble was becoming such an issue that Anagonye asked for tapes breaking down how he fouled.

“That’s kind of sick,” Izzo said. “Who comes in and watches how you foul, but he did those things. He really took that to heart.”

Thomas said coming off the bench relieves the pressures of starting and allows a player to get an early feel for the game. He said that has really helped Anagonye stay out of foul trouble.

“The refs try to set a tone early,” he said. “Now when he comes in, the tone has already been set and he can play his game.”

Thomas said he and Anagonye have the ability to provide a spark coming off the bench. He said it’s a new role to adjust to, but added it’s a valuable one.

Izzo said how far the Spartans go in March will depend on how comfortable everyone becomes with their roles. As the first players off the bench, he said Anagonye and Thomas are critical to the team.

“I still say he’s the one guy who brings a lot of emotion to this team,” Izzo said of Anagonye. “I said four years ago he’d be a great leader some day and I still say he will.”


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