”I’ve taken more positives out of the whole thing,” Izzo said, “but I was disappointed on Sunday because I just thought if we had our core people all playing well we win that game. That’s a win over a very, very talented team. …
”That’s what the preseason is for. I thought the best learning game was the Marquette game, so that was a plus. Duke game of course was a plus. You get three games out of your first six or seven that were major factors in letting you know what you’ve gotta do. It’s good experience, but this will be six in 13 days and that’s the other reason I’m cautiously trying to figure out (where we are).”
The Spartans sit at 5-2 with losses to No. 4 Duke and No. 11 Kansas. But part of the progress for the Spartans has been maybe being more competitive in those games than they might have anticipated.
“We have been right there with two top teams,” junior Denzel Valentine said. “You know it hurts, but it’s early and we have plenty of time for improving.”
When it came down to it Sunday in a 61-56 loss to Kansas, the film session revealed what already was apparent: The Spartans had plenty of chances to win. Now, it is just a matter of cleaning up the little things.
”I feel like we just have a couple of niches that we need to take care of and get better at like screening and little things like boxing out and free throws and things like that,” senior Branden Dawson said. “We just need to get better at the little things and they will take care of themselves.”
But Dawson agreed with Izzo in that this team might have more positives early than expected and might be farther along.
“I was kind of surprised because the way we played against Duke, the way we played against Kansas,” Dawson said. “We have a young team and had to put in walks ons.
”We are in a good position being that we have those guys stepping up for us, it’s tremendous. Right now, I feel like we are good but we have little things to take care of.”