MSU’s Cassius Winston pumped to play in Detroit

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — It’s been a while since Cassius Winston got to play in his hometown.

That’s why Michigan State’s sophomore guard is looking forward to Saturday’s game against Oakland at Little Caesars Arena.

“It’s gonna be a great environment,” Michigan State’s Miles Bridges said. “I’m happy that Cassius gets to go home.”

Winston starred at UD-Jesuit, where he was named Michigan’s Mr. Basketball as a senior in 2016. That led him to Michigan State, where he’s starting as a sophomore and shooting 61 percent from 3-point range through the first 10 games this season.

And as he and the Spartans (9-1) take the court at 2:30 p.m. after Michigan and Detroit Mercy play in the first game of a doubleheader, it will be a sort of homecoming for Winston.

“It’s big, just being able to play in front of a lot of people that supported me along this journey, along the way, is gonna be great,” Winston said. “Being back home, my family doesn’t have to travel that hour-and-a-half, they can just go up the street. It’s gonna be great.”

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The game against the Golden Grizzlies could be the first of what might be multiple chances for the Spartans to play in Detroit’s new arena this season. First- and second-round NCAA Tournament games will be played at Little Caesars Arena in March and the Spartans seem like a pretty solid bet to end up close to home for the first weekend of the tournament.

So getting a taste of what it’s like to play there can’t hurt.

“It’s definitely hard getting adjusted to different gyms, different rims, different styles,” Winston said. “If you have played there before you’ll definitely be a little more comfortable. You know the feeling, you know what it feels like out there.”

The Spartans got a quick feel for the atmosphere last week when they attended the Detroit Pistons game against the Golden State Warriors. It was the first trip to the arena for most and, ironically, the first time Bridges had been to an NBA game.

If Michigan State has the same success it had at The Palace — MSU was 13-2 at the Pistons’ former home — it will enjoy playing in the new arena.

“I do have some great memories of the Palace,” Tom Izzo said. “The Palace was a great place. I miss Mr. Davidson and all the things that went on at the Palace. But I have had a chance now twice to be down there (at LCA) Tom Wilson took me around the whole thing for an hour and a half when I was down there recruiting in September, right after it opened. … It is a phenomenal facility.”