MSU’s Denzel Valentine tries to keep balance
East Lansing — It was tough for Denzel Valentine, but he resisted the urge to log in to his Twitter account after his triple-double in Michigan State’s victory over Kansas on Tuesday.
The senior guard deletes the app on his phone at the start of each season, but the account is still there. And he was sure there was plenty of praise after he had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in the Champions Classic.
“I was fighting it,” Valentine said after practice Thursday. “I wanted to look so bad, but I was like, ‘Nope.’ ”
He didn’t want to hear how great he was?
“You have a bad game and everybody says (you’re bad) again,” Valentine said, laughing. “I don’t want to read the good stuff to hype me up and I don’t want to read the bad stuff.”
It’s just the approach Tom Izzo loves.
And as No. 13 Michigan State prepares to host Arkansas-Pine Bluff tonight, Izzo is working hard to get the fire back in his team after topping Kansas.
“This group’s gotta learn to focus in and think higher of itself if we are going to be a great team,” Izzo said after a practice that wasn’t exactly sharp. “Nobody loafed, but I didn’t think the focus was there. We are going to readjust that by having a meeting tonight, see if we can get that back.”
Getting it back against a team like Arkansas-Pine Bluff might seem simple, but considering some of the upsets that already have occurred, Michigan State would be wise to get dialed in before tip-off.
It’s something it should understand less than a year removed from a home loss to Texas Southern.
“I think the numbers of teams that got beat this year (is a better reminder),” Izzo said. “Virginia and Wisconsin and teams that everybody thinks are so rigid and don’t make those kind of errors. When they get beat, I think that shakes up everybody.”
And if things get dicey against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Spartans can always fall back on Valentine.
He’s determined to have more nights like the one he had in Chicago.
“I want more than just one big game the second game of the season,” Valentine said. “That wasn’t my goal, to beat Kansas and have a good game there. We say ‘Natty’ every day and I want to win the national championship.”
Sophomore Marvin Clark Jr. practiced for the first time as he continues to work back from surgery on his foot.
Izzo said the key will be finding out how the foot responds the next day or two.
“I think he is going to be ready to go by next week,” Izzo said. “It’s then getting him back into playing shape and everything like that. It all seems positive as far as he’s concerned.”
... Izzo said junior center Gavin Schilling (turf toe) might be back when Michigan State travels to Anaheim, Calif., next week for the Wooden Legacy.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Michigan State
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Friday, Breslin Center, East Lansing
Records: Arkansas-Pine Bluff 1-1, No. 13 Michigan State 2-0
Outlook: This is the third meeting in the last four years (Michigan State leads 2-0). ... This is the third straight road game for Arkansas-Pine Bluff. It opened with a 58-56 victory at Seattle before losing 86-72 at Oklahoma State.