January 11, 2010

Numbers there, intangibles need work

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo likes the numbers his team is generating on both ends of the floor as the Spartans prepare for a three-game home stand in Big Ten play. But Izzo still wants to see his team develop the intangible characteristics that will take them from being a good team to a potential great one.

"They are getting better, but they are still not where they need to be," said Izzo. "I am not enamored intangible-wise, I am pleased statistics-wise."

The only statistic that is a red flag for the 15-year Spartan head coach is the number of turnovers his ballclub is committing. The Spartans are committing 15.3 turnovers per game, which has led to fewer possessions on offense against three opponents in the Big Ten that have made an effort to milk the shot clock. Turnovers will be a point of emphasis Wednesday night when Michigan State faces a Minnesota team that have opponents committing an average of 20 turnovers per game.

Izzo is more frustrated by the type of turnovers his team is committing than the number of times that they are coughing up the ball. He described the turnovers committed by his team as 'mindboggling.'

Michigan State is off to a 3-0 start for the just the third time in the last 15 years under Izzo, who said that scheduling has as much to do with his team's fast start as anything. Izzo lamented the fact that the Spartans will play teams like Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Illinois twice before facing Purdue for the first time. Izzo said that his team's schedule gives coaches, players, and fans an unrealistic view of their conference positioning.

Izzo was asked a handful of player development questions. Michigan State junior Tom Herzog did not play as well against Iowa. Izzo said that Herzog earned playing time with a strong week of practice. Izzo said he was impressed with Herzog in practice and that captains Raymar Morgan and Draymond Green approached him to suggest more playing time for the 7-footer. The Spartan head coach was also asked about the play of sophomore guard Korie Lucious.

Izzo said that Lucious did not play well against Wisconsin because the substitution pattern prevented him from getting into the flow of the game. He expects Lucious to take strides during the next two weeks.

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