INside Slant:Izzo Not Happy Despite 6-0 Start

He also isn't impressed with his team's 6-0 start in Big Ten play -- which is the best in his 15-year tenure at Michigan State. "I guess we're back to baby bottles and diapers," Spartans Coach Tom Izzo said. "We've got some work to do."


Tom Izzo often notes that "player-coached teams are better than coach-coached teams."

Right now, he isn't too happy with the way his team is policing itself.

He also isn't impressed with his team's 6-0 start in Big Ten play -- which is the best in his 15-year tenure at Michigan State. Everyone else in the league has at least two losses, but the Spartans had four of their first six at home and have six of the next eight on the road.

After Wednesday's uninspiring home 70-63 win over lowly Iowa, Izzo said he was looking at the game as a test of the Spartans' maturity.

"And I guess we're back to baby bottles and diapers," Izzo said. "We've got some work to do." Izzo was uncharacteristically quiet during the game. He said he decided to step back and let the players take over.

"I felt like I had to figure out whether somebody was going to step up and say some things or do some things," Izzo said. "I got my answer that I'll keep to myself, and so I'll adjust. ... I am used to our great teams playing with incredible emotion, and this team is not quite like that right now."

Izzo seems especially concerned with the lack of vocal leadership from junior point guard Kalin Lucas. But sophomore forward Draymond Green -- one of four captains along with Lucas, Raymar Morgan and Isaiah Dahlman -- took the blame after the Spartans nearly squandered a 19-point lead to the Hawkeyes.

"I take a lot of blame for that," Green said, "but I know it won't happen again."

MICHIGAN STATE 70, IOWA 63: Senior F Raymar Morgan scored 16 points to lead the Spartans, who had another slow start, recovered and jumped to a huge lead -- then had to hold on after Iowa got within three points twice in the final two minutes.

Reserve PG Korie Lucious drove for a layup with 1:33 left to give his team a five-point lead. After two Iowa free throws, starting PG Kalin Lucas sealed the game with two foul shots with 14 seconds left.

Lucas scored 11. Durrell Summers had all 12 of his points in the first half.


--The Spartans have seven players good enough to start and star on a given night. The one with the most untapped ability may be sophomore forward Delvon Roe.

As seen in Sunday's 73-63 win over Illinois, Roe has the potential to be a terrific back-to-the-basket threat. He had 15 points -- in just 20 minutes thanks to foul trouble -- and did it with quick post moves and a soft hook shot.

Too often, though, Roe is forgotten in an MSU attack loaded with scoring punch. His last outing in double figures was Dec. 19 against IPFW.

"I know I can do these things," Roe said after the Illinois game. "I know I can go out there and do the things I'm capable of doing. It might be a shock to you guys but it's not a shock to me. I know how I can play. I've just got to do this on a consistent basis."

And Michigan State has to do a better job of running plays for him, a stated priority for Tom Izzo. Roe is averaging 7.6 points and 4.4 shots a game. Against Illinois, he was able to get to the line seven times -- and make all seven foul shots.

Roe is shooting 62.5 percent from the line this season after a miserable 45.5 percent showing as a freshman. His surgically repaired knees are stronger and his athleticism seems to be increasing by the month.

"We all know what he can do," sophomore forward Draymond Green said of Roe after the Illinois game. "He hasn't really had any dominating games that we know he's capable of, but I think this is a great start for him and he's gonna keep rolling. We're gonna help him keep rolling."

--Tom Izzo started 5-0 in the Big Ten for the second time in his 15-year tenure. The first came a year ago -- but MSU lost the sixth game, a shocking home upset at the hands of Northwestern.

By notching a second win this month over Iowa at home Wednesday, the Spartans have their best Big Ten start under Izzo. The school record is a 7-0 start by the 1977-78 Spartans led by freshman guard Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

--Raymar Morgan came off the bench in Saturday's win at Illinois because of some undisclosed personal issues. Tom Izzo said he wanted to take some pressure off Morgan. He was back in the starting lineup Wednesday. Morgan had 14 points Saturday and followed it up with 16.

--Durrell Summers also started against Iowa, as Tom Izzo started small against Iowa's smallish lineup. Freshman C Derrick Nix gave up his starting spot for a night. Summers had all 12 of his points in the first half and had five rebounds and four assists, but he missed all four of his 3-point tries.

--Sophomore F Delvon Roe looked like he was ready to follow up a 15-point outing against Illinois with another strong game. But he picked up two quick fouls and sat most of the first half. Roe still ended up with eight points and six rebounds in just 15 minutes. He also hit all four free throws, lifting his season percentage to 64.7 percent. He shot 45.5 percent as a freshman.

ON THE SPOT: The number of turnovers isn't always the problem, but the types of turnovers continue to drive Tom Izzo crazy. Against Iowa, many of MSU's 15 giveaways were unforced, against a team that does not pressure the ball. On Saturday in Minnesota, MSU will face a hostile environment and Tubby Smith's pressure defense, so the Spartans will have to be a lot more surehanded than they've been.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is for first place in the Big Ten, it's at home, we've got football recruits here, we've got former players here. We want to show them our brand of basketball. We appreciate what they did for us, and we cherish the things they allowed us to have. Now on that court, 40 minutes, we want to show them our brand of basketball -- what we're gonna leave for the future." -- Delvon Roe after Saturday's win over Illinois, which came on MSU's basketball reunion weekend with about 100 former players in attendance

SEASON RECAP: Michigan State sits alone in first place in the Big Ten at 5-0. The Spartans opened Big Ten play with victories over ranked teams, Northwestern on the road and Wisconsin at home. Michigan State's three losses came against good nonleague competition -- at North Carolina and Texas, and vs. Florida in Atlantic City. Michigan State has held 13 of 18 teams under 40 percent shooting, but UNC and Texas were both over 56 percent.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Kalin Lucas, G Chris Allen, F Raymar Morgan, F Delvon Roe, C Derrick Nix. Key Subs -- F Draymond Green, G Durrell Summers, G Korie Lucious, C Garrick Sherman.

MSU 71, Iowa 53
MSU 60, Minnesota 53
MSU 73, Illinois 63
MSU 70, Iowa 63
at Minnesota, Saturday, Jan. 23
at Michigan, Tuesday, Jan. 26
vs. Northwestern, Saturday, Jan. 30
at Wisconsin, Tuesday, Feb. 2
IN FOCUS: A strange Big Ten schedule means the Spartans will have two rematches this week -- MSU already whipped Iowa for a second time -- wrapping up two series before January ends.
MSU's trip to Minnesota may be the toughest Big Ten game to date. The Spartans did a great job of taking care of the ball in Wednesday's first meeting, turning it over just 10 times. A similar number would be quite a feat in the hostile environment of Williams Arena, and it would give Michigan State an excellent chance of a sweep.

--F Raymar Morgan off the bench Saturday against Illinois, starting G Durrell Summers instead. The move was not performance-based, Izzo said. It was intended to take some pressure off Morgan, who has been dealing with some personal issues.

"It's just been a rough couple of weeks for him, even before the last game," Izzo said of Morgan. "He's got some things going back to North Carolina, they're personal, not anything major, but I think it did him good to relax him some, too."

After Michigan State's loss at North Carolina on Dec. 1, Morgan's mother had a brief health scare and had to be hospitalized for a night. Morgan declined to comment on her or get into his personal situation. He did say it was "a good move" to bring him off the bench. Morgan responded with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

--MSU football tight end Dion Sims joined Tom Izzo's team this week, giving the basketball Spartans a 6-5, 265-pound athlete. Don't expect Sims to make a difference on the court this season, though. He will help in practice and perhaps break into the playing rotation later in his career. Sims was recruited to MSU by Izzo and Mark Dantonio, with the understanding that he'd play both sports.

--Sophomore F Delvon Roe sprained his right (non-shooting) wrist in Wednesday's win over Minnesota, then aggravated the injury with a late spill in Saturday's win over Illinois. Roe had ice on the wrist after the game but said it's nothing more than a sprain.

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