Valentine healthy, not feeling the minutes

Sophomore upped minutes, but not feeling the fatigue as Michigan State enters the "dog days" of the season. He talks about being one of two Spartans to play in every game -- and Izzo sounds off.

Denzel Valentine is one of only two Spartans to play in every game this season, so it would make sense that he would be fatigued as the season grows older.

That is not the case, however, as Michigan State is in the thick of the "dog days" of the college basketball season.

"The only guy that doesn't have fresh legs on my team should be Denzel Valentine," coach Tom Izzo said. "I mean the guy that should be deadest is the liveliest, and that's Valentine.

"He's brought it to practice. He's in here morning, noon and night shooting. Valentine has gone straight through and I see absolutely no fatigue in him at all."

The sophomore entered conference play averaging just more than 24 minutes per game, but since then has bumped up his minutes to more than 31 per game.

With injuries and illnesses having bitten the Spartans seemingly at every turn, Valentine has been a constant presence. He attributed his lack of fatigue to hard work in the offseason.

"I dedicated myself in the summer to get my body right and get mentally right for the season," he said. "Just extra stuff like weights and cardio and things like that. I've been hitting it hard."

Admittedly, he said he has had a little bit of mental wear, but has worked through it with support.

"I've just gotta stay positive and keep listening to coach and what he has to say and listening to my brother and my dad and everybody who cares about it," he said. "It wears on me, but that's what I signed up for, so I can't complain."

He also is hoping the work in the offseason in the weight room, which he has kept with during the season, will keep him healthy and in the lineup.

"I just pray to God everyday that he keeps me healthy and he keeps everybody else healthy and do the extra work and hopefully it will take care of itself," he said.

With Valentine still having his legs sunder him – and plenty of fresh legs for players who missed time throughout the year – Izzo said the "dog days" are a little bit different for this group.

"I don't see these as dog days, I see these as exciting times," he said. "We're in a hunt for a championship and have an opportunity. We're in a hunt to get better. We know we're going to start getting healthier down the road.

"I can understand why (other coaches think they have to back off), and most years I would, but not this year."


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