Tom Izzo entered the Christmas break with his team hopeful to see growth in this team, especially in the area of conditioning.
On Monday, he said the goal was accomplished with the players on break from school and with more time to practice.
”Yeah, I think we are better off conditioning wise,” Izzo said.
”I think they wore down when we had to play them every minute even in a blowout game like Rider,” Izzo said. “We just had nobody else to put in there because we had no B.J. really. Bryn (Forbes) we were trying to get out of there some and of course we didn’t have (Alvin) Ellis or (Javon) Bess. So even in a blowout game we were playing some of those guys a lot of minutes and I think it really wore Trice down more than it did Zel.
”Those guys are fresh and back and we got a chance still to be a very good team if we can keep everyone together.”
Valentine and Trice both average more than 32.2 minutes per game, which was the team-high last season for Gary Harris.
Trice, who is averaging 32.5 minutes per game through the first 13, said having no classes or other obligations was big in getting in extra practices. The Spartans had two-a-days during break to get in shooting work, offense and ball screen defense, while also focusing in on conditioning.
”We definitely have gotten in shape the past couple days,” Trice said. “I felt like I was in pretty good shape, but you could in practices some guys were really hurting. Coach knows what he is doing and he is just preparing us for the long run.
”I think it was good that we got in shape.”
“I think we are getting in better shape,” Valentine said. “We have our players all back healthy so that’s good and we have a full lineup going into the first Big Ten game.”