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Izzo, Spartans set sights high for upcoming basketball season

October 12, 2010

Head coach Tom Izzo talks with the press Tuesday afternoon at Breslin Center for basketball media day.

Photo by Sam Mikalonis | The State News

After consecutive NCAA Tournament runs that ended in defeat at the Final Four, there is one thing on the minds of the MSU men’s basketball players as they prepare for the upcoming season: Finish the job by winning the national championship.

“Anything less for me is a disappointment,” junior forward Draymond Green said at 2010 Media Day on Tuesday. “That’s the standard. Some people may look at it as not fair, but that’s the reason we chose Michigan State; that’s why we came here, we’re competitors.

“So anything less than not winning a national championship is basically failure.”

Other players agreed with Green’s statement, but men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo was careful with such a specific goal.

“It’s dangerous (talk) if it’s utilized in the wrong way,” Izzo said. “(But) we have gotten to the point where I’ve joked about it being on our schedule.”

This season’s team will look a lot different than the one that lost by two points to Butler in last season’s Final Four.

The team has undergone a change following an eventful offseason: Izzo’s near move to the NBA, the dismissal of Chris Allen, junior guard Korie Lucious’ reckless driving charge and allegations regarding a sexual assault allegedly involving two players.

On top of that, several players, including senior guard Kalin Lucas, are coming back from injuries.

But junior forward Delvon Roe said the team is focused on the job at hand.

“There haven’t been distractions for us,” he said.

“(The media) thinks there are distractions but there haven’t been (any). We’re going out there and doing what we always do, and that’s play basketball.”

Izzo said seven players missed at least three weeks in the offseason and six players missed more than a month and a half. Most notably, Lucas has been recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon suffered in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Lucas has done an incredible job coming back — rehabbing twice a day since May — but Izzo said he is worried about Lucas once the team begins the grind of regular-season practice.

“My biggest worry is this: He’s practiced three times a week for 40 minutes the last few weeks and he’s done a damn good job,” Izzo said.

“But now, you start going six days a week for two and a half hours and that changes things immensely. … I don’t know how long of a stretch he’ll be able to go.”

With the loss of Allen, the team is a little thin at the guard position. When the team is at full health, Izzo could play big with Green at small forward or small with Summers at the position.

Whatever the lineup, Izzo said the team will have to focus if it wants to continue the tradition of strong team defense.

“We have a chance to be better defensively, but we’re going to have to change,” Izzo said.

“We are going to have to play some zone, because of the lineups, which is foreign territory for me.”

The Spartans have one of the toughest schedules in college basketball, playing Connecticut, Duke and Syracuse in the nonconference slate. But once the team heals from injuries and begins to gel on the court, Izzo knows his team has a chance to do something special.

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“The thing I feel best about is I think we have a chance to do something that few teams have done,” Izzo said.

“Whether it’s a long shot or a short shot, we have a chance to win three Big Ten Championships in a row; we have a chance to go to three Final Fours in a row, and there aren’t many people who get the opportunity to go to one.”

To read more about Media Day, click here


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