Payne gone, Costello is the guy in the middle

Junior center stepping into the spotlight with Adreian Payne in the NBA. He does not expect to b Payne, but is looking for different ways to fill in production.

Matt Costello knew what was at stake as soon as Michigan State lost to Connecticut to end last season.

Senior Adreian Payne was gone, players and coaches came up to him and said it was time to pick it up.

”He was the guy for me,” Costello said. “I was the second fiddle and it made things easier for me because everyone would focus on A.P. and I could come in and do my thing.

”This year, it’s definitely more on me because he is gone. Gavin (Schilling) will be there to help, but it’s on me, so I’ve gotta take care of my job.”

But the first order of business for Costello is being Costello and not trying to replace Payne’s 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in the same fashion as Payne.

”I think Matt gets caught up, he's not A.P.,” coach Tom Izzo said. “Don't try to be A.P.. Try to be Matt, be the best screener, the best role guy, best finisher, still can step out and shoot the ball a little bit.”

Costello said the key to playing a valuable role as he steps into a big spot left vacant by Payne is finding a way to do it differently.

”Score differently, rebound differently, pick and roll,” he said. “AP picked and rolled, but that wasn’t his thing. Running the floor, that wasn’t his thing and I can do that.

”Just doing it in a different way and I feel like I can still get close to the same production, but I’m not going to be shooting 3s, I’m not going to be getting ball 10-15 times in the post. I’ve just gotta pick my spots, play the game and I think it will work out well.”

Izzo said Costello “worked his butt off this summer” and was quick to remind that he started the season in the starting lineup before mono derailed his season.

”I think he was playing some of his best basketball early, then he got the mono,” Izzo said. “Later on in the year, we went to Iowa, Illinois, he was a big key in some of those wins. You watch him. You watch him practice. We don't appreciate what he does. You see him in a game where it's more suited for his style, and he's smart, he does a lot of good things. He's got some toughness.

”He's definitely going to be a big key to try to replace something that Adreian gave us. It won't be necessarily in points, but it might be in getting more people open. It might be in rebounding a little better.”

With the expectation of an increased role coming his way after MSU lost in the Elite 8, Costello said it motivated him to hit the gym harder this summer. Costello, multiple teammates and Izzo said a marked improvement has been seen in his ability to shoot the midrange jumper, something he worked on with junior Denzel Valentine often and said his shooting has improved.

”It made me think about some stuff and I think that has played into this being one of the best summers I’ve ever had as far as working out,” Costello said. “Zel was a big part of that, just kinda of helping me get in the gym and keeping me accountable. …

”Now, I have my mind set a little bit differently that I do need to step and take care of those things because nobody else is going to do it. A.P is not here. It’s on me now.”

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