Izzo: Team is retooling, not rebuilding

Spartans set to lose plenty, but pieces returning to a team that figures not to be "star-studded." But Izzo finds value in being the underdog and looks forward to the summer.

With on season's end, another season comes into focus.

For Michigan State faithful, that meant a flurry of questions – filled with a concern not shared by Spartans coach Tom Izzo.

"I'm the only guy in this state that's not panicking over what we have," Izzo said.

The Spartans will lose at least two major contributors in seniors Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, with Gary Harris and Branden Dawson.

But Izzo is not willing to say the Spartans will be in a state of rebuilding, instead choosing to call it "retooling."

"Retooling means a guy like (Denzel Valentine) has to be retooled now to have a different role," Izzo said. "I don't think when you've gone 17 straight years (with an NCAA Tournament bid), you're rebuilding anything."

Valentine will return for Michigan State and if Dawson and Harris bolt for the NBA, he will be the lone returning starter. Center Matt Costello will bring back starting experience, as will point guard Travis Trice.

Players like sophomore Kenny Kaminski and freshmen Alvin Ellis and Gavin Schilling figure to all take on more prominent roles, as well.

It is a squad far from defined nor "star-studded," but one Izzo still expects to compete in the Big Ten.

"I've been here when (Drew) Neitzel and (Travis) Walton were my two big cogs and we got to an NCAA Tournament," he said. "Came within a game or two of winning the Big Ten. …

"Very few times have we been out of the hunt for a Big Ten championship in the last two weeks. I'm expecting that to ring true with this group, I really am."

The Spartans will add three recruits to the mix with point guard Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn, wing Javon Bess and small forward Marvin Clark.

The door still is open that the Spartans will add another player or two to the mix. They recently offered Bloomfield Hills power forward Yante Maten and are in the mix for Huntington Prep (W.V.) shooting guard Montaque Gill-Caesar, who might reclassify to the 2014 class.

"If we can either get a decent power forward big guy, I mean, somebody for the future, we will," Izzo said.

Of the committed players, Nairn and Bess figure to play some minutes of the bench, with Clark in the mix as well.

But however the roster falls together, Izzo is not too worried about it.

"I'm probably better being an underdog and I will value this spring, summer and fall like few I've valued here," he said.

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