The difficulty of college-sports schedules has always been a topic of discussion. For the men’s basketball team, it’s just another hump in the season that they have to power through.
Since their first, and only, lost to Kansas in the beginning of the season, the Spartans now have a 5-1 record and are ranked at number nine in the AP Poll and number eight in the Coaches Poll. However, this does not come with ease. The team is currently on a tough stretch, playing five games in 12 days, having to travel to all but one of those games and having a quick turn around of not even 24 hours.
“It’s going to be apart of this growth process we’re working on all year long. Can we get by another hurdle? Can we put another experience in the book,” said Izzo. “… this will be a big stop on the way.”
The Spartans will take on Louisville next for the ACC/ Big Ten challenge in Kentucky. With this being game number three in the stretch, all the travel is concerning to head coach Tom Izzo, who says he will have to play the freshmen more during this time. Coming off the bench, Aaron Henry led the freshman playing in 21 minutes and grabbing six rebounds and eight points against Texas in the Las Vegas Invitational. With the dominate win against UCLA, the freshmen played for a combined 40 minutes, gaining 13 points.
“For me personally it’s just exciting… I think as a team we all have the mindset to go in and do our job and play Michigan State basketball.” said team captain and junior guard Joshua Langford.
So far this season, Langford is averaging 18.5 points and shooting 47.5 percent from three. For Langford, the key to keeping their five-week winning streak going on the road is consistency. He says in order for them to be a great team, they need to control their attitude, effort and focus for the full 40 minutes of the game.
“I think if there’s one advantage we’ve had with our schedule...we’ve had some different looks at different kinds of teams and I think that’s going to help us too.” said Izzo.
Last season, Michigan State was 8-1 for away games and 6-3 for games in a neutral setting. This year, Izzo says the team’s grit and toughness is what will help them. Having played the now number one team Gonzaga, the number two team Kansas and a big-sized UCLA team, the Spartans are adjusting and believing they’re prepared to take on their next challenge.