Michigan State's basketball team has depth and flexibility Print
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Friday, 26 October 2007 01:48
NCAAB Headline News


 EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Practice sessions likely will be more challenging than some games when Michigan State's season starts in a few weeks.
The Spartans are so talented and deep that the starters can expect all they can handle from the second-stringers.
They might have the most complete roster since coach Tom Izzo took over the program and built it into a national power, winning the 2000 national championship, four Big Ten titles and reaching four Final Fours.
``I think we do have the best depth - talented depth and different kind of depth,'' Izzo said. ``We can bring in an athlete or a shooter and rotate different lineups.''
That was obvious toward the end of Wednesday's practice.
ornton made the second team even deeper.
For much of the full-speed scrimmage, Summers seemed to be the best player on the court.
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Detroit grabbed a rebound above the rim, drove for a layup, made a low-post move and ran past teammates on a fastbreak for another basket to help the second team beat the first.
``He's a great athlete with a lot of upside,'' Walton said.
Thornton's fadeaway gave the backups a 13-11 win over the starters, who had to sprint up and down the court three times for losing. The freshman from Cedar Springs High School came to Michigan State without a scholarship - turning down offers from other schools - but earned one for this season when Maurice Joseph transferred.
Izzo mixed up the teams in the next scrimmage, which ended with Neitzel missing a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
``Our freshmen played better than the upperclassmen,'' Izzo said.
While Izzo was pleased with his newcomers, he faulted his frontcourt for what he called uninspired and inconsistent play.
``I'm still nervously awaiting our bigs to get better,'' he said. ``They're getting better, but not at the rate we need them to. That's the only part that is a little disappointing right now, but we're only a week and a half in.
``If we have to move Raymar there some and go smaller, I'll do that. We're going to play a lot of people, but we're going to play the best people. It'll be interesting to see how the competition goes.''
Izzo said the days of watching starters dominate reserves at Michigan State are over. Point guard Walton agreed, saying: ``The competition is great. We have a lot of players that could go to any other school and start.''
Summers, Lucas and Allen will likely be reserves, although that appears to be a plus for them and the team's returning standouts.
``Our seniors and juniors better play harder, or our freshmen are going to play a ton of minutes,'' Izzo said. ``But I don't need anybody to play a ton of minutes. That's going to help Drew Neitzel, Raymar Morgan and Travis Walton instead of the minutes they played last year.''
The Spartans could be ranked among the top 10 when The Associated Press releases its preseason poll Nov. 2, and Summers expects them to live up to the hype.
``We have a lot of goals set to win championships, and I think if we keep working hard we can definitely fulfill those goals,'' Summers said.
Miami of Ohio coach Charlie Coles, whose team had the day off, was one of several college coaches watching and taking notes during Wednesday's practice.
``They look really good,'' he said.
 

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