Izzo on Schilling: "His game has changed"

Michigan State sophomore center more ready to take on a bigger role in his second year after a mentally challenging freshman year.

When Gavin Schilling set foot on Michigan State’s campus last summer, he was just 17 years old and in for the quite the awakening.

The transition to the college game brought with it plenty of challenges, especially mentally.

"In practice a few times, I kinda struggled mentally,” he said. “Now, I know what to expect so that won’t happen this year.”

Schilling played in all but one of Michigan State’s 38 games – one of the few players to avoid injury on a team that was bitten time and time again by the injury bug. A year older, a year stronger and a year more experienced, the sophomore is set to play more minutes and a greater role on a different Spartans team and he made a big jump this fall, coach Tom Izzo said.

”He has been the guy that this fall has stepped up probably the most,” Izzo said. “He's made the biggest jump in the last three weeks. … I didn't think he was in love with the game either last year like we needed. That really changed this summer and his game has changed.”

Izzo praised Schilling as being the “quickest offensive rebounder” and overall big man that Michigan State has had in a some time. He also said his offensive skills are coming along as Schilling had 53 points in 37 games as a freshman.

”He's really improved his jump hook, he's improved his left hand,” Izzo said. “A long way to go. Still kind of raw, but really starting to make some improvement.”

Schilling said he has been putting in a lot of work in practice and has been playing better and better of late, but the biggest area of improvement is in how he feels on the court.

“My biggest growth is in how comfortable I feel on the court now that I know the system very well and I’m slowing down more in the post and feeling more comfortable,” he said.

The responsibility to carry the big man minutes falls on Schilling this season, as well as junior Matt Costello, with standout Adreian Payne now in the NBA. Schilling said the pair knows it will have to play a bigger role and find a way to be effective.

”We are going to have to do it at the highest level we can each and every night,” he said.

But with a year under his belt, Schilling now is more adjusted and ready to take on the challenge.

”It was a grind the whole season,” he said. “I wasn’t ready for that.

”Now, I know what to expect. Now, I’m ready.”

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