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December 09, 2010

'Caution to the wind'

That's Kalin Lucas' new approach, Tom Izzo said after practice today -- which he said was Lucas' best practice in weeks -- after Lucas noticed on film that he's hesitating at times to attack. Perhaps an understandable side effect of an Achilles' injury that came out of nowhere.

    Also, Izzo and the team had a big meeting to go over what's happened and why so far this season. Izzo's assessment of his team's play vs. Syracuse remains the same, but he had to conclude fatigue was a factor, because it was not anywhere close to the performance the Spartans gave at Duke, or even the way they played in Maui.

    That brings me to today's one-month analysis. And it brings me to a personal pet peeve. I hear a lot of people say, roughly: "These are young kids and great athletes, I don't want to hear about fatigue!"

    People who say this are totally missing the point. No one is saying the players can't get out of bed, or that they're collapsing into a puddle of their own drool in the layup line. But if they're a step behind a talented team that hasn't been through the same travel and tough games -- how can you dismiss that? Seven games in 16 days isn't just seven games. It's seven game preps. Film study, scouting reports. Game plans, walk-throughs. Limited practice, heavy travel.

    Excuses, excuses. But MSU has three losses, and in the first two the Spartans guarded and battled on the boards. In the third, they didn't. After the second, at Duke, everyone who was there came away thinking these two teams might meet for the national title. After the third, MSU looked like it might have a chance to return to the Garden for the NIT final. You do the math.

    Also today, Russell Byrd was moving around without the boot on his left foot. If Monday's X-rays go well, he'll be practicing soon. Izzo said he's "99 percent sure" Byrd's redshirt will stay on, but he'll at least add an element to the scout team. Even on the boot and crutches, Byrd put on some set-shot displays this fall. He has the purest jump shot I've seen from an MSU player since ... well, I won't do that to the kid before he's played a minute. Much more on and from Byrd in Friday's LSJ.

    One more thing: I've finally updated the traveling photo gallery, cute little captions included. Warning: The volume of photos may slow a bit when the trips turn to Lafayette and Champaign (which I still can't tell apart).





“I could say it’s not the game we want, but then again, maybe it is because our players know we’re gonna have to play.”


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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter

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