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Mens hoops reserves will get more time

January 18, 2001

Game films, bench seats and bruises in practice are what they are most accustomed to, but that could all change for MSU’s inexperienced frontline reserves.

With senior forward Andre Hutson out indefinitely with pneumonia and senior guard Mike Chappell suffering a chipped bone in a finger on his shooting hand after the Jan. 13 win over Wisconsin, the group will be counted on Sunday when No. 3 MSU hosts unranked Ohio State.

Hutson could miss up to two weeks, while Chappell could be out indefinitely.

One of the Spartans’ major concerns will be Buckeyes center Ken Johnson, who leads the nation and Big Ten in blocked shots, averaging four per game.

MSU head coach Tom Izzo, who evaluated Johnson in high school, said he’s surprised with how the Detroit native has developed his game.

“I think Jimmy (O’Brien, Ohio State head coach,) has done a hell of a job with him,” Izzo said. “I didn’t think Ken would be as good as he is now. I think every year he’s gotten a little better.”

Senior guard Charlie Bell said it will be difficult for the three frontline reserves - redshirt freshman center Jason Andreas, redshirt freshman forward Adam Wolfe and sophomore center Adam Ballinger - to compensate for Hutson’s 13.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

The three players average a combined four points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

“It’s going to be hard for them,” Bell said. “I don’t think anybody expected any teammate to go down, especially Andre since he’s one of the tougher guys on this team and in the country.”

Bell added that it will also be a challenge to respond to Johnson’s intimidating defensive presence.

“I think both Adams (Wolfe and Ballinger) are smart players, as well as Jason,” Bell said. “We all have confidence in them that they can pick it up and do the things we need them to do to fill the void.”

Andreas - whose father Dan played for Ohio State - said he welcomes the opportunity to face Johnson.

“I’ve already been watching film on him,” Andreas said. “Our game plan is to take the ball at him. He’s an excellent shot blocker off the ball, so we’re going to take the ball directly at him and try to force some fouls.”

Ballinger, who is expected to start Sunday in Hutson’s absence, said it will be an adjustment not coming off the bench. He missed the first eight games of the season with a broken right thumb.

“You have to take what you get,” Ballinger said. “This is a big chance for me and I feel good about it, but I would like to have Andre back. Andre will be back soon enough, so I just have to try to step in and do all I can.”

Wolfe, who’s seen limited action this season due to migraine headaches, said he has prepared himself for the challenge, especially now that Chappell could be out, earning him minutes at the small forward spot.

“Andre is most likely out and we don’t know what will happen with Mike because of his finger, so hopefully that will mean some extra time for me,” Wolfe said. “I’ve put some extra work in the past week so hopefully I’ll be able to perform.”

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