Friday, October 15, 2021

Sleepover builds chemistry, leads to win

March 1, 2010

MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo reflects on his team’s 53-44 victory against Purdue on Sunday.

After an unsettling home loss to Ohio State and a long week of practice, the MSU men’s basketball team realized they needed to sleep it off.

At Breslin Center.

In an effort to build some team chemistry and take their minds off basketball for a while, the Spartans’ captains recommended a unique idea to head coach Tom Izzo.

“(Sophomore forward Draymond Green) said, ‘Coach, we’ve got to do something off the wall,’” Izzo said with a smile at his weekly press conference Monday.

“I said, ‘What’s that?’ And he said, ‘I think we should have a sleepover.’”

So the Spartans put away the basketballs and their sneakers Friday night in favor of board games, Xbox and sleeping bags. The only basketball, Izzo said, was in video game fashion.

“It was one for my book, if I ever write one,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

At the beginning of the season, Izzo pointed to leadership, chemistry and distractions as the Spartans’ biggest obstacles for success. With just a week remaining in the regular season, those issues remain evident.

For a team without a true vocal leader, and one that had lost two straight home games, the jury still is out on the team-building night. But Sunday’s 53-44 win on the road against then-No. 3 Purdue might be the first sign of an upswing.

“Was it good for us from our backs’ standpoint? Probably not,” Izzo said. “Was it good for us from a rest standpoint? Probably not. Was it good for us from a togetherness standpoint? One of the great team-building events, and the best part is it goes back to my original saying that I’ve believed in my whole career here — it was a player decision.”

One of the distractions Izzo has touched on was the rumor of junior guards Kalin Lucas and Durell Summers possibly leaving early for the NBA after this season. On Friday, those players were thrilled to take a psychological step back rather than look forward.

“It was high school-ish and that’s good,” Izzo said. “I think too many times in college, we want to make everything pro-ish. I like going the other way a little bit.”

Izzo, who was on the road recruiting Friday evening and didn’t make it back to Breslin Center until about an hour after the rest of the players, coaches and managers, went right home and told his family the agenda for the night. He returned to campus with his son, Stephen, and they still managed to wrangle the best seat in the house.

“He and I bunked out on the block ‘S’ on the middle of the floor,” Izzo said. “I got up in the morning and felt great.”

Injury report

Izzo said Monday that the right ankle injury to junior guard Durrell Summers likely would not be an issue moving forward.

“He didn’t seem to have a big issue with it,” Izzo said. “He just tweaked it. He would have been able to come back in. He just got it retaped.”

Summers left the game with 2:36 remaining after appearing to roll his ankle while driving in the lane. Izzo said the injury didn’t appear to be anywhere near as serious as the one Lucas suffered earlier this year, but also said the staff would know more Monday afternoon.

As for sophomore forward Delvon Roe, who has admitted he’s been playing through some right knee pain and will continue to do so for the rest of the season, Izzo also said the staff is not too concerned, but likely would have the knee scoped at the end of the season.

“He’s dealing with some (pain),” Izzo said. “Am I worried about it? Yeah, I’m worried about it. Am I worried it’s going to get worse? No. I just feel bad for the kid that this has been going on for a long time and his toughness — he’s just hung in there, leaving (the media) and me and every fan to question him a little bit.”

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Top notch

Senior forward Raymar Morgan and Ohio State forward Evan Turner were named Co-Big Ten Players of the Week on Monday.

Morgan was critical in MSU’s win at Purdue on Sunday, leading the Spartans with 16 points and adding 11 rebounds. He was 6-for-9 from the floor and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line in his second double-double of conference play. He needs 16 points to become the fifth player in MSU history to have 1,500 career points and 700 rebounds.

“He’s probably our best defensive player,” Izzo said. “He’s rebounding the ball very well. I think he could be a consistent double-double guy. He was a beast in (the Purdue) game.”

Turner averaged 21.5 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in two wins for the first-place Buckeyes this week to earn his seventh Player of the Week award this season.

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