October 22, 2012

Izzo experiments with practice lineup

  • Izzo Post-Practice Audio: Oct 22 (8 minutes)

    EAST LANSING - Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo juggled his first group during Monday's practice, for variety's sake, he said.

    The Spartans have been working with a first group of Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix.

    Izzo cautions that this doesn't necessarily represent the leading candidates to serve as Michigan State's starting lineup for next Tuesday's exhibition season opener against Northwood (Fla.).

    "I'm just looking at different playing groups, different rotations, that type of thing," Izzo said.

    Harris missed a day or two with a pulled groin. But the standout wing guard from Fishers, Ind. was back on the court, Monday. MSU kept Valentine in the first five and moved Payne to the second group. Izzo slid Dawson down to the four (power forward).

    "I wanted to take a look at B.J. (Dawson) at that position, get him some work there, some reps," Izzo said. "He's just beginning at that position, so some things aren't as smooth."

  • Izzo said Payne has been practicing well, and his move to the second group is not a demotion. However, he said Payne "is a creature of habit" and didn't practice as well on Monday, when working primarily with the second group.

  • Izzo complimented Appling's play and leadership.

    "He's been the coolest cat on the team," Izzo said. "He doesn't get rattled. He is under control. He learning how to "be quick/don't hurry" type of thing. You can see how much better he is shooting the ball, it's a joke. He has been playing consistently the best, and Nix isn't far behind him."

  • Click above for audio of Izzo's post-practice interviews. The session begins with a question about Byrd's resounding dunk on the last play of practice. Moments earlier, Izzo had challenged Byrd's manhood, childhood and every other hood associated with the 6-foot-7, 205-pound sophomore captain from Fort Wayne because he felt Byrd wasn't going up strong enough around the rim.

    On Byrd's next opportunity, he threw down a strong two-handed jam and then immediately shot a mock stare down at Izzo in the corner of the court. Izzo threw up his hands as if to say "that's what I'm talking about."

    Byrd's teammates howled their approval.

    Izzo blew his whistle and ended practice on a good note.

    "I think I can challenge guys and I like that," Izzo said. "Players usually react like that when they know I'm right on the money."

  • Izzo on Harris: "He did seem a little rusty. He's been running and offensive rebounding."

  • Izzo said he wants to see better defensive rebounding out of Derrick Nix.

  • Two weeks from Wednesday, the Spartans leave for Germany to play UConn.

  • Izzo was asked if he had a good weekend, (wink, wink).

    The Spartans played host to the nation's No. 1-ranked recruit, Jabari Parker for his official visit over the weekend.

    "My weekend was good," Izzo said with a smile. "I can't talk much about it, but it went good.

    "But you never know; it's a long ways away," Izzo added, presumably in reference to Parker's plans of making a decision in the spring. "It (my weekend) went as good as I would hope it could go."

    Except for the score of that football game. Izzo said the Spartans, and Parkers, watched the game as a team at Izzo's house.

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