East Lansing, MI
The Michigan State Spartans are 21-5 (8-5) on the season and coming down the Big Ten stretch are looking at seeding and the NCAA Tournament. No doubt that the Spartans are a team with a high ceiling and winning Izzo’s second national title will require a lot from star freshman Deyonta DD Davis.
Izzo has often talked about DD being not only a great young man, but also a great listener who is willing to let the senior leaders help him grow. Now Izzo is seeing his star start to communicate more and that is critical in the Izzo system.
“I think it’s really important, because (against Indiana) struggled. I think he struggled, but what they’ve done such a good job of is, Costello’s done a great job with him, the other guy that’s really done an incredible job with him is Colby Wollenman, I think his roommate on the road. He spends time with him; he’s on scout team, telling him where to go, how to be. (Vs Indiana) was the first time in a while I thought DD, the opening jump he lost by a foot, and I told my staff, hang on. You can see those things. You’re going to go through some of that with some of these freshmen now, so is everybody else, because it gives me that point in time of year, but I give him credit. He responded in the second half, blocked some shots. It isn’t screwing up that’s the problem, it’s screwing up and then screwing up again, or it’s screwing up and then not understanding what you did. I give him a lot of credit. He can take coaching, he can take criticism, but he had some players that got on him too, the non-motor stuff is more inexcusable than the assignment stuff.”
As one of the nation’s most coveted recruits in 2015, Davis has proven that just being talented isn’t good enough. He has the character to listen and that is worth its weight in gold. That is why with his best team since the Mateen Cleaves era, Izzo knows that he has a true freshman who doesn’t have to lead, but can certainly play and most importantly contribute.
When Davis arrived he simply didn’t speak and Izzo said that is changing for the better. “DD has, I mean, he’s talking 10 times more, which means – he’s not gonna go into a salon and sit at the hairdryer area and have a conversation with people, but he has been fun. He has really been the way he’s grown. I enjoy bringing him in the office. He actually stops by the office now. I think even the players, I think they all appreciate – not where he needs to be yet – but where he came from and where he is. He has made big-time strides. He has been a fun kid to coach. (It’s) frustrating that he doesn’t talk to you all the time because sometimes I look at him and I say something and then if he will say, ‘Well why do you get mad at me?’ And I say, ‘Because you never answer me. Just answer me. Say yes or no an then I’ll know that you at least heard me.’ And now he is getting better at that. He’s making progress.”
Izzo sees his youngster not just improving in the communication portion of his game, but on defense as well. That is difficult when you are big and being asked to head out into the no man’s land known as the perimeter.
“Talking on the defensive stuff – even against a team like Michigan when he has to cover a perimeter guy, that’s a hard thing for him. And he had to communicate a little bit better. It wasn’t as vocal. So I think D.D. is going to keep getting better, I really do.”
The Spartans next tilt comes from the Wisconsin Badgers. That game tips off at 9PM Thursday night. That game can be seen on ESPN.