MSU Mid-week News and Notes
Travis Trice returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing four straight games following his second bout of the season with concussion-like symptoms. In his 6 minutes against the Hoosiers, Travis looked a bit rusty (who wouldn't be), but made some nice plays, contributing a rebound and an assist. He also drew a charge on Will Sheehey 43 seconds after entering the game, proving how fearless he is.
On his weekly radio show, Coach Izzo said it'll take a week or week and a half - at the very least - to get him back to full strength.
As far as Gary Harris goes, we all know he's been dealing with a pair of bad shoulders all season long. Prior to Tuesday's game though, Gary mentioned that he felt as good as he has in quite some time. Despite the fact that his left shoulder popped out early in the second half, he still finished the game without most people noticing.
"It was kind of bizarre because it went out and back in," Izzo mentioned. "I kind of watched it. And I'll tell you what, that kid, if we can get him 100% healthy, he's a special player."
With 15:03 left in the second half and the Spartans trailing 48-42, Izzo had Trice, Dawson, Harris, Valentine and Costello on the floor. Yes, that's two sophomore's and three freshmen. That lineup sparked a 7-0 run over the next 1:41, giving MSU a one point lead.
For Valentine, it's been an up and down season, mostly because he's spent time at three different positions due to injuries (Trice and Harris) and defections (Kearney). Not only has he had to learn every guard position offensively, but he's also had to learn how to guard a variety of different players in those positions as well.
But Denzel's recent surge has been more than evident over the last 6 games (MSU is 5-1), averaging 7.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 16-for-29 from the field (55.1%).
While those numbers are impressive, his rebounding numbers over the last six (35 total, 11 offensive) really stick out to his coach.
"That's an area that you kind of lose sight of with him," Coach Izzo noted. "You know, he's still growing as an offensive player. He's still growing as a defensive player. But he's all grown up as a rebounder...He's done an incredible job in an area that is sometimes hard for a freshman to do."
Then, there's Matt Costello, who continues to get better and better. One of the strong suits of his game is post defense, which was on display against Indiana's Cody Zeller.
During the aforementioned 7-0 run by MSU, Costello blocked three shots (two on Zeller, one on Ferrell), grabbed a rebound and dished out an assist in a one minute, four second span.
Strong, short spurts of playing time is a key for Costello to earn trust from Izzo. And he's been doing exactly that. It's no wonder he's averaging ten minutes per game over the last four outings, providing clear validation for his non-redshirt year.
"I think Costello's going to be a heck of player before he's done and it's been fun to watch him grow," said Izzo. "I wish he would've grown a little faster, but some of the problem was me. You know, we just couldn't find the time to get him in."
We may be at the point where the coaches can't find enough minutes for him.