Tough Practices Building Tough Hoops Team

The sophomore Lucas relishes the battles with the freshman Lucious and the senior Walton and he says they're not the only ones. The whole team has gotten into the mentality and it's helping to make everyone better.

EAST LANSING - With an influx of freshman talent, MSU has been picked second in the preseason Big Ten basketball race.

The Spartans are especially deep in the backcourt where senior Travis Walton, sophomore Kalin Lucas and freshman Korie Lucious give the team a talented floor presence that other teams in the Big Ten and the nation will be hard pressed to match.

MSU head coach Tom Izzo talked about how the intensity in practices between the three and in particular Lucas and Lucious is creating an energy that the rest of the team is feeding off.

"Both of them are tough kids," said Izzo. "I'm kind of surprised with Korie, I'm not with Kalin. There's been a few wars and there will be a few more before its over, I'm sure, but that's only going to make them both better."

"When you get two guys going up against each other a lot, guys get better, there's no question about that," he said.

The sophomore Lucas relishes the battles with both the freshman Lucious and the senior Walton and he says they're not the only ones. The whole team has gotten into the mentality and it's helping to make everyone better.

"I think right now, everybody is having their battles," said Lucas. "Once the season starts, we're going to have the scout team (battling the starters) and I think they helped us out a lot last year. We're going to need them to be there to help us out again this year."

Lucas said he believes that the addition of Lucious is going to give the team an addition that few squads have, the ability to get up and down the floor much faster than the opposition.

"I think we do have a lot of speed," said Lucas. "We have great athletes, we're long, we've got depth, we've got big men that can run this year. As far as the guards, we all can push the ball and we're all very quick, so we've just got to use that to our [advantage]."

Lucas, is coming of a tremendous freshman season, but he realizes he still has some deficiencies. One of those was the tendency to fade away, which made his jump shot inconsistent.

He says he's working hard to correct that tendency that comes naturally from being a smaller player.

"I think my consistency is getting better. Just getting in the gym more, just trying to get up more shots and not fade on my jump shot, just trying to stay straight up and straight down," said Lucas.

Another area he's trying to build upon are his leadership qualities. With Walton in his last season, MSU wants to make sure that Lucas is ready to handle the baton when its passed to him. One area he's working on is being more assertive and vocal on the floor.

"I think I just started (doing) that more this summer. One thing the coaches were telling me is that I need to be more vocal and more of a leader. That's something that I have been working on."

With three talented players in the backcourt, look for the Spartans to utilize the full court press more than they have in the past to create turnovers and easy baskets with their running game.


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