Spartans hoping to get better defensively

The Spartans have played well on offense but Izzo indicated that the most important thing they need to do is to focus on playing better defense.

EAST LANSING - After a wacky start to the 2004-2005 season the #14 ranked Spartans have a record of 3-2. Michigan State traveled to Hawaii where they played four games in five days, including two games that went into overtime against # 7 Gonzaga and #13 Arizona.

As everyone expected, the Spartans will be depending heavily on their two seniors, Paul Davis and Maurice Ager. Both of these players have gotten out to phenomenal starts, Davis is averaging a double-double with 20.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. Ager is leading the team in scoring with 23.0 ppg.

Monday, on the Tom Izzo Show, coach Izzo said, "Paul is off to a great start, he's stronger and in the best shape of his life. He is all business out there, for his team, for himself and for his school."

Izzo also mentioned how it was important for Davis to play well in the IPFW game. Davis has been notorious in his career at Michigan State for not playing his best against mediocre teams. The senior responded with a dominant performance tallying 30 points and 14 rebounds on Sunday.

One of the surprises that Michigan State came across while they were in Hawaii was how many quality minutes they got from redshirt freshman Goran Suton.

Suton is averaging over 25 minutes a game, and is giving the Spartans a solid 7.0 rebounds per contest. Suton and Marquise Gray will give more depth in the front court to go along with Davis and Drew Naymick. The Spartans are also eagerly awaiting the return of senior forward Matt Trannon.

The Spartans have played well on offense but Izzo indicated that the most important thing they need to do is to focus on defense better.

"We're not defending as well as we can. I think we'll improve once Trannon comes back because he can guard all five positions," said Izzo.

Izzo commented on how he liked the fact that Suton and Gray are playing quality minutes in the front court to provide the team depth in that area. However, Izzo is concerned about the depth on the perimeter.

Once Trannon returns to the team, look for him to play on the wing more this year. With Trannon coming off the bench, that will allow Shannon Brown and Ager to get some more rest during games.

Point guard Drew Neitzel has shown signs of becoming the player he needs to be this year in order for the Spartans to get to where they want as a team. However, there is room for improvement and he will need to be more assertive and be able to play better perimeter defense as they go deeper into the season.

Backing up Neitzel, freshman point guard Travis Walton has shown toughness on defense and the ability to play big minutes down the stretch in important games. Walton will need to improve offensively and be able to hit open jump shots when the opportunity arrives.

In the next week Michigan State will play two ACC opponents in Georgia Tech and Boston College. These are big games and if Michigan State is victorious in both, especially at Boston College, they will probably find themselves back in the top ten.

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