New big three for Izzo, Spartans

With major departures, Michigan State will look to three new faces to lead this year -- and Izzo likes the leadership still.

Same chemistry, but better leadership. That is again how Michigan State coach Tom Izzo described his team compared to last year’s group at Big Ten Media Day on Thursday.

”I kind of like this team,” he said. “I think it's a team with the same kind of passion we had last year, the same kind of camaraderie, but a little better leadership.”

Izzo reiterated the improved leadership stems from the likes of Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine specifically. Between Trice, Valentine and senior forward Branden Dawson, Izzo said they form a good group.

”Our big three will be those three,” he said.

Those three will be expected to take strides into bigger roles with the losses of Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne. Trice and junior Matt Costello gained experience last year with the injuries suffered by Appling and Payne, Izzo noted.

”Trice was playing pretty well, so he got a lot of experience,” he said. “Because Payne was down for those eight or nine games, Costello got some experience.”

But with the senior Dawson back for his final year, Izzo said he will be a “big key” after his strong play late last season after returning from a broken hand.

”Does he take another step up, does he average the 15, 16 points, eight, nine rebounds that he did the last six, seven games of the season once he got back?,” Izzo said. “If he does that, I think this team could progress greatly here in the months to come.”

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