Izzo seeking depth in backcourt with freshmen

Freshmen guards Travis Walton and Maurice Joseph will look to provide stability off of the bench for the Spartans.

EAST LANSING, Mich.—In order to compete in March, Michigan State will have to give their starters a rest at some point in time during the game.

The one area where the Spartans knew they would be thin this year was their depth in the backcourt. Freshmen guards Travis Walton and Maurice Joseph will look to provide stability off of the bench for the Spartans.

Travis Walton, a 6-foot-2 guard from Lima, Ohio, has proved that he can handle the ball at point guard during big games. Walton is averaging 19.7 minutes a contest this season and has been a solid point guard off of the bench for MSU.

The best thing that Walton brings to the table is his quickness and his ability to defend the ball. Walton isn't the type of offensive threat that starting point guard Drew Neitzel is however, he is a very good defender and has potential to be a big impact on that end of the court.

In the last few games there have been periods where Izzo has used both Walton and Neitzel on the floor at the same time. Izzo is desperate to get someone off of the bench to give Ager and Brown a rest.

"Yeah, I don't like them playing together (Neitzel and Walton). It's hard to play the 1 and 2 together both being point guards. They both go to the ball when we start our break and it's difficult to get some continuity there," said Izzo.

Walton has averaged just over three assists per game and has only averaged 1.6 turnovers thus far. The down side about Walton has been his ability to hit an open jump-shot; Walton is shooting just 25 percent from the field this season.

Freshmen shooting guard Maurice Joseph, 6-foot-4 out of Montreal, Quebec has the toughest job out of anybody on the team this year. He has to back up two of the best guards in the nation, (Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown). Joseph hasn't had the opportunity to play big minutes yet due to a foot injury but he should get some playing time in the upcoming games.

"Mo-Jo (Maurice Joseph) will get some time to practice with his foot injury, so we'll see what he can do for us," said Izzo. Joseph is a good shooter and is capable of being consistent from behind the arc.

In the short period of playing time that Joseph has had he is 1-for-3 from beyond the three-point line.

Coach Izzo has stressed how important it is to give their starting guards a rest during the game. As a team who likes to run, it is difficult for the starters to play all of those minutes especially with a tough conference like the Big Ten.

The Spartans will have a very difficult January and February with the type of caliber in the Big Ten this year.

"We have to make sure we get Mo (Ager) and Shannon (Brown) a rest. The way we run puts a burden on those guys," said Izzo.

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