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October 19, 2009

Hoops practice observations

Four players look markedly more athletic to me, after watching Monday's open MSU practice.

    Delvon Roe, Draymond Green, Raymar Morgan, Chris Allen. Roe is to be expected, and he definitely has more bounce and quickness. Morgan is more explosive, and he has improved his shooting and handling. Allen did some things above the rim that I've never seen from him.

    Green is the guy who stood out the most, for one because he's really draining that jump shot, for two because his vertical leap looks plus-six or better from last season. The big summer Tom Izzo was talking about in August is showing up on the practice court.

    Also, Korie Lucious looked fine running the court with a right foot that is now 9 1/2 weeks removed from its second surgery. Lucious isn't doing all the full-contact stuff yet, but that's just days away. He doesn't have the same leaping ability as last season at this point, but he's still quick.

    As for the big guys ... well, this isn't exactly McHale-Parish yet. Tom Herzog is bigger and it is helping. He is running with the 1s and Izzo said he has been "very good" so far. Derrick Nix definitely looks like someone who can help -- he's running well, he's strong and he's aggressive -- and I need to see more of Garrick Sherman to get an idea of what he can do. He's wiry with some athleticism, not sure about the skill level yet. They all need to improve, especially on defense. But then, this is just three days into practice.

    An interesting note on Herzog. As a guy in the playing group, he is being treated as such (the regulars take the heat, the scout team doesn't), and he heard about a couple of mistakes late in the practice. Kalin Lucas seems to look at Herzog as his personal pet project, and Lucas was impressed with how Herzog played through it all.

    "Last year I think he would have fell in the tank a little bit," Lucas said.

    Lucas definitely thinks Herzog has something to give to this team -- and Lucas seems determined to get it out of him.

    Note for the weekend:  The Green and White game (intrasquad scrimmage) is 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Breslin. Free admission. Doors open at 2, and fans can get autographs and take pictures with last season's two trophies (Big Ten and Final Four).

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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