Three Up or Down: the three Parts of the #2 Michigan State basketball that are trending up or down now.
- UP Joshua Langford’s maturation Langford is averaging 14.2 points per game and is playing excellent defense. The former five star McDonald’s All American is living up to his hype. Earlier this summer it was fellow five-star true freshman Jaren Jackson, Jr. who said of Langford, “That guy is a lottery pick.” He is playing like it. Tom Izzo said after the win over Cleveland State, “He did a little bit of everything. We’re trying to make him ‘that’ player. If you got a scorer that can guard people, that’s a valuable player.”
- UP Fan Support Spartan fans have been outstanding this year. Usually, when the students go home for Christmas the crowds drop, but they haven’t Izzo grabbed the MIC after the blowout of Cleveland State and told the fans,”You packed this place when we got no students here or anybody else here, and everybody’s in the Christmas spirit. You guys are supporting your Spartans, and your Spartans appreciate it.” Izzo is not afraid to call the fans out when they earn it, but he is also willing to praise and thank them.
- UP Nick Ward’s Draft Stock While some fans and even media tried to make more of Nick Ward’s frustration at Rutgers earlier this year, the MSU super sophomore is playing great. His defense, his touch his free throws have all come along. Ward had 22 points and 14 rebounds and Ward is now 23-for-25 in his last three games and is averaging 15 points per game and six boards. His stock is on the RISE.
Izzo was visibly moved after being told what Cleveland State Coach Denis Felton said about him. In case you have not heard he said, “The truth of the matter is that there is no one in the country that has more respect for Michigan State basketball and the job that Coach Izzo has done in building something truly amazing that has sustained such a high level for such a long time. I think about the number of Final Fours in the number of years that he has been here and it’s incredible. We are in the very beginning stages of building a program basically from scratch, and we are literally in the process of building in the model of Michigan State basketball. What I mean by that is a program that is full of players who really understand and embrace the value of the simple things that go into great basketball – teamwork, discipline, effort, tenacity, consistency – all the things that go into championship-level basketball.”
So what did Izzo think of those words? “The world, to be honest with you. That’s the greatest compliment that somebody can give me, because the program has been built by the players and the assistant coaches and the fans, so when he says the program, he’s encompassing a lot of people here. That’s the way I feel right now, you know, it was so exhilarating to speak to that group after the game. I didn’t do it for any other than reason than to honestly thank them, but to see how excited they were about Mark Dantonio or football you know, just the things that are going on here, you know we got issues like every place but we got a lot of good things going on and in my program, I’m going to keep grinding these guys but I couldn’t ask for better guys than I got now. We still make our mistakes and we’re going to keep trying to build on that. You know, we’re trying to use tomorrow like an NCAA weekend, you know, where you play a game, you’re off a day, you play a game, you know? So we’re going to go early in the morning and we’re going to walkthrough and we’re going to have meetings all day and you know, we’re just going to try to so that we get more and more out of these games and get through Savannah State and then you know, get ready for the Big Ten. Dennis (Felton) is a good guy, he’s a good coach, he’s taken over a tough situation there that he’ll build that up. He did it at Western Kentucky, he did it at Georgia. He’ll get than thing rolling, but if he wants it like this one, I say thank you to him, to be honest.”
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