Sophomore shooting guard Joshua Langford has had a lot to look up to since the beginning of the season.
After he finished with a career-high 23 points in MSU’s 63-45 win against North Carolina Sunday, Langford, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound product of Huntsville, Alabama, is still a work in progress when it comes to honing his emotions — especially if he’s upset with the way he’s playing, according to head coach Tom Izzo.
Izzo said Tuesday despite the progress Langford has made in scoring, the former McDonald's All-American has struggled at times to deal with adversity if he misses early shots. Izzo think Langford’s body language has a huge effect on the way Langford plays.
“We talk to him a lot about the head going down in the Ferris State game, it affected his defense, affected his everything,” Izzo said. “That’s part of the maturation process; that a kid has to learn how to deal with a little success and learn how to deal with a little failure. I thought that was one of the things Josh was poor at.”
Though it’s hindered Langford at times, he said he’s gotten better at focusing at the task at hand, rather than constantly remembering a missed opportunity. For him, it’s more beneficial to channel his frustration into positive energy.
“As a player, I’m kind of hard on myself at times. I get upset more than I should, but I’ve learned to just use it as a positive thing,” Langford said. “Not really show it throughout my emotion, but throughout how I play.”
Of the progress Langford has made this year, Izzo said he thinks the difference from last season is Langford’s confidence to make shots. He currently leads the team with 63 shots attempted from the field, and has landed 49.2 percent of those.
The biggest difference Izzo has seen, however, is Langford’s ability to drive the lane. When looking at footage from last season, Izzo and Langford think its comedic the effort Langford put into driving the lane compared to this time a year ago.
Langford still might be able to drive the ball inside even more.
“I feel like I can even do more for us, than that part of just ripping baseline,” he said. “Not even just trying to go (score) from the baseline and be aggressive, but at the same time if I don’t have a bucket I can still dish it off.”
‘Self-inflicted’ turnovers: Izzo thinks many of MSU’s season-high 24 turnovers against the reigning National Champion Tar Heels Sunday were “self-inflicted” — caused mainly by excessive passing, senseless fouls and dribbling errors.
Compared to MSU’s eight turnovers, a season-low, it had against Connecticut in the second round of the PK80, Izzo said he’ll be concerned if his team can’t mitigate its turnover problem.
Sophomore point guard Cassius Winston thinks the Spartans have to do a better job setting the pace of play when they have the ball.
“We got to learn how to control the game at our end,” Winston said. “Sometimes we get to sped up. We let the other team determine what we do on our offensive end and we got to make the defense play at our pace, dictate what we want them to do on defense. That’s will help with the turnovers.”
Injury update: Redshirt junior Kenny Goins participated in non-contact practice for the first time since he injured his right knee four games ago against Duke and could possibly see some time on the floor, according to Izzo.
Izzo said if Goins returns, it gives him the option to move around sophomore guard/forward Miles Bridges.
“He seems to be doing real well with it,” Izzo said. “There’s no real damage, it’s just cleaning it up a little bit. There is a chance and that would help us, especially on the perimeter.”
Junior guard Matt McQuaid also suffered a swollen arch in last Friday’s game against UConn. Izzo said the shooter “flat-out sucked it up” and played through the rest of that game and played Sunday against UNC.
Unless the injury flares up, Izzo thinks McQuaid will be fine.
“I think he’ll get back to normal pretty quick,” Izzo said. “We might hold him out a little bit.”
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