"Band of brothers" spark summer for MSU

Five basketball players living together was a big part of the team chemistry, summer work that Tom Izzo has praised heading into the season.

The bond forged between college roommates is often a special one and one that leads to plenty of memories.

So when Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo raved about team chemistry and work ethic this summer, it came as little surprise to roommates Matt Costello, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Kenny Kaminski and Denzel Valentine.

"It's like a band of brothers," Costello said. "You just goof off all the time and when you need to, you get to work and come into the gym.

"Coach talks all the time about how this is one of the best summers he's ever had in terms of guys getting better and things like that. A big part of that is the chemistry because say I'm tired and I don't want to go in one day and Denzel gets me out of my bed and makes me come in and work out."

The four-person 2012 recruiting class and Dawson decided to move into an apartment together at the end of last season.

Kaminski, who redshirted last season recovering from a shoulder injury, said the biggest benefit of living together has been the accountability and the team's goals.

"There were many, many days this summer where I woke up and said I need a day off," he said, "but then talking to my teammates, they were like we've got goals this summer and we've gotta get better.

"We need to win a national championship next year and this is our year to do it. Since that's been brought up, it's been no question to go to the gym."

Valentine lived with Harris on-campus last season said now the bond has reached beyond them and explained that no one wanted to be the guy staying behind when others were working.

"You don't want to be the only person left out when everybody else is going to the gym," he said. "If there are two people going, another person is going to go, too, and another person is like, shoot, I'll go, too.

"It's kind of tough seeing four people go to the gym and you're the only one staying."

The motivation of the five in the apartment was found throughout the team as Russell Byrd said this offseason was different than any he has seen at MSU.

"In my three years being here, I've never seen guys in the gym like there were this summer, preseason and even now," Junior Russell Byrd said. "Everybody's in there trying to get better. That's guys choosing to go to the gym rather than go out or go to the movies or play video games."

Costello said junior Travis Trice was a big part of the work in the summer and Dawson said he spent time on the treadmill with senior Adreian Payne.

"We just get along," Dawson said with a smile. "All of us get along and not just me living with them, we just all get along. That's one thing coach emphasized is just our chemistry that has gotten better since last year. I think it's great for this team.

"Every single guy on this team has gotten better. That has definitely helped."

At the end of the day, Kaminski said living with four of his teammates has brought them closer together and brought an understanding of personal and team goals – even in the wackiness of all living together.

"A lot of people think we are kind of crazy for that," Kaminski said. "I think it's awesome. I love my teammates, they are family to me. Just being around them everyday is really a blessing."


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