Izzo: MSU must get better, but don’t expect big changes
East Lansing — Don’t expect any major changes for Michigan State.
Despite losing two of their last three games, the Spartans are hardly panicking, and with Indiana coming to the Breslin Center on Friday, that includes making any significant changes to the rotation.
“I gotta get better play out of the guys I know can play better, to be honest,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Tuesday. “I don’t need to replace anybody.”
That can sometimes be he knee-jerk reaction, even for No. 9 Michigan State (16-3, 4-2 Big Ten) which has losses to Ohio State and Michigan sandwiching an overtime victory at home over Rutgers over the last three games.
It’s not exactly where many expected the Spartans to be at this point, after an impressive non-conference season that included top-10 victories over North Carolina and Notre Dame.
However, Izzo said he sees there are plenty of top teams dealing with issues, and he believes his young roster will keep getting better.
“As you can see, the league is crazy,” he said. “Things around the whole country are that way, I’ll be honest with you. I thought we’d drop to maybe 20th (in the rankings) after two losses. And when I looked at it, why we didn’t, it’s because everybody’s got the same issues we’ve got, which is what I said before.
“Right now, I’m not sure that anybody’s able to handle any success. Teams are losing two in a row, teams are losing this and that. I talked to some guys that don’t have very good teams that have taken good teams right to the wire. I just don’t think there’s as much separation, and sometimes you gotta get lucky, too, and some teams have done that.”
Izzo is expecting his team to rebound from the tough week by simply playing better, not making big changes. That includes pushing for more minutes for a player like Ben Carter.
The senior forward has been limited the last few weeks because of a sprained ankle, but with teams going smaller against Michigan State, Izzo isn’t expecting to alter his rotation much.
“It’s not about replacing guys, if you ask me,” Izzo said. “Can Ben help us some? One of the issues we’ve had is that everybody is going small so that is not the direction we’re looking at right now. I think he can help us. We’re putting him on the scout team because it’s helped (Xavier Tillman) so much, but he couldn’t even do that until this week because of the ankle.”
One player that won’t be joining the rotation is junior guard Kyle Ahrens. He’s been out all season after aggravating a foot injury he suffered in the summer, and Izzo said Tuesday that Ahrens will be out for the season.
“He won’t be back. He will not be back,” Izzo said. “He is walking, but he’s another month away from being able to practice. They’re not going to take any chances since it’s kind of similar to what happened (before). So no, no Kyle. Hopefully a little bit of Ben because I love Ben. But I’m probably not going to start him (Friday).
“It’s about the guys that have done it getting a little better, and it’s about getting a little more out of a couple guys. Gavin (Schilling) gave us a little more in the last game. It will be about sometimes playing a little different. Maybe we’ll move our lineup around, maybe we’ll be a little smaller at times, maybe we’ll do some things there. There’s going to be some adjustments made.”