Saturday, December 4, 2021

Coaches plan to break down Torberts play

March 20, 2002

With another MSU recruit, Rochester High’s Paul Davis, becoming the latest Mr. Basketball award winner Monday, next year’s Spartan men’s basketball team will likely include the state’s past three winners - Davis, freshman guard Kelvin Torbert and sophomore guard Marcus Taylor.

But the state’s highest prep accolade doesn’t guarantee instant success as a Spartan, and MSU head coach Tom Izzo said Torbert will spend the off-season working on returning his game to an elite level.

“I think he’ll make some improvements and hopefully, they’ll be big improvements,” Izzo said. “How much of a jump he takes could really play a big factor on how much we improve.”

Torbert appeared in all 31 games, starting 26 of the contests, and compiled averages of 25.1 minutes per game, 8.2 points and 3.1 rebounds, while shooting a team-low 39.9 percent from the floor.

Izzo said Torbert’s shooting mechanics need a little touching up.

“Sometimes, there’s a little glitch where he’s shooting on the way down,” he said. “It’s just going to take a lot of repetition to correct it.”

Taylor ticker

Izzo said he’s planning for next season as if his point guard, Taylor, will be at the helm.

“I’m looking at it right now as if everybody is going to be back, and if that changes I’ll deal with it then,” he said.

Izzo said the Lansing native hasn’t indicated he’ll be leaving school early and heading to the NBA.

“In talking to Marcus, I think he’s pretty geared to come back and win a championship,” Izzo said. “But that’s not anything that he’s going to say right now.

“Maybe he’s going to take a look at it, maybe he’s going to talk with his family first, and when the time comes where they want me to do some checking, I’ll do that with everybody there.”

Spartans’ to-do list

While the team takes a couple of weeks off, Izzo said the coaching staff will reflect on some of the team’s shortcomings and try to focus on what caused the problems.

“Now, we prepare for next year. We look at what we didn’t do as well this year,” he said. “We try and figure out which ones are related to numbers and which ones are related to skills and to things we can change from a coaching standpoint.”

Izzo said he knows the team has to focus on getting stronger.

“We feel we’re going to put a lot of time into our strength and conditioning,” he said. “We think that this team has to get stronger and tougher if we’re going to make the run we think we can make next year.”

Giving individual attention to players is another focal point.

“We think (we’ll put time into) individual improvement, both done with the coaching staff for the first six weeks and making sure our players are self-motivated enough to continue over the next three months when we’re not allowed to do anything with them,” Izzo said.

Sweet 16 vacation

While the Spartans won’t be one of the final 16 teams alive in the NCAA Tournament, Izzo still handicapped each of the games Tuesday afternoon on “The Dan Patrick Show” on ESPN Radio airing on local affiliate WVFN (730-AM).

Izzo gave ex-MSU assistant Stan Heath his support and picked the No. 10 seed Kent State Golden Flash over No. 3 Pittsburgh and No. 1 Duke over No. 5 Indiana in the South region, though he said he’s pulling for the conference-rival Hoosiers.

In the West, Izzo tabbed No. 5 UCLA over No. 12 Missouri, giving the Bruins the slight advantage because the game will be played in the West, and he prophesied No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 3 Arizona.

Maryland, the top seed in the East, and No. 2 seed UConn nabbed Izzo’s choice in games against No. 4 Kentucky and No. 11 Southern Illinois, respectively.

Lastly, Izzo selected another Big Ten school, No. 4 Illinois, to upend the top seed in the Midwest, Kansas, and No. 6 Texas over No. 2 Oregon.

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