All week in practice, freshman Alvin Ellis took that upon himself to make an impact in MSU's 67-63 win against Oakland.
"I've been stepping it up in practice this week and just practicing hard," Ellis said. "I knew my opportunity was going to come. I knew we had a few people that were sitting out this game. I just knew I had to step up."
The guard played a career-high 19 minutes and had four points on 2 of 3 shooting for the Spartans at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
"Alvin Ellis was a bright spot, because we had a couple other guards that were bad spots, you know," coach Tom Izzo said. "But Alvin did what we tell (Branden Dawson) to do all the time, played with incredible energy."
Ellis said the challenge to play with energy and work hard left him motivated, especially knowing it was similar to Dawson, who is one of his closest friends.
"It had a good impact on me," he said. "I just knew I had to keep motivating my teammates even though I'm a freshman, just keep motivating everybody."
Ellis had three turnovers, but also had two steals a block on the defensive end, where he placed his focus on making an impact.
"It just started on defense," he said. "I was just trying to play hard (Saturday). I knew the defense was going to carry over to our offense and I was going to let the game come to me.
"I knew it started on defense. That's where I was going to stay in."
Izzo again praised Ellis for his intelligence – comparing him to former Spartan Draymond Green – he said he has seen the ability from the young guard for two months.
"He can guard," Izzo said. "He can run. He's a better athlete. He really understands the game.
"He's going to be a good player here as his shot continues to get better and he quits turning it over."
For now, the freshman said this game is just something to build on.
"I can just learn from my mistakes," he said. "Watch film and talk to the coaches to see what I'm doing wrong and see where I can get better at."