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Notes & Quotes: Michigan State men’s basketball hits practice court after scrimmage with Tennessee

“I’m confident in our team and I feel coach is confident in our team,” Pierre Brooks said. “We could do something really special this year.”

NCAA Basketball Tournament - East Regional - Washington DC - Practice Sessions Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Michigan State men’s basketball season is right around the corner as fans can now count down the days until the 2022-2023 season opener against Northern Arizona tips off with two hands. After practice on Thursday, head coach Tom Izzo and selected players were available to speak to the media.

The Spartans traveled to Knoxville on Sunday for a closed-door scrimmage against Tennessee. The Volunteers are ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press Preseason poll.

“I thought we played very well,” Izzo said about Tennessee. “They’re a very good, very well-coached, very big, very good shooting team, and yet, we held our own.

“We rebounded pretty well, which is going to be very critical for us,” Izzo continued. “Still, the thing that hurt us was turnovers.”

Junior point guard A.J. Hoggard is set to be one of the leaders on the team after averaging 7.0 points per game last season.

“It was definitely good to just get up and get down versus somebody else instead of beating each other,” Hoggard said regarding the Tennessee scrimmage.

Izzo noted that sophomore guard Pierre Brooks had his best practice on Thursday. He also noted that the team has made progress in the practices before and after the Tennessee scrimmage.

“We played great as a team,” Brooks said regarding the Tennessee scrimmage. “We did a lot better than coach thought we would’ve played.

“He felt that we played competitively with them,” Brooks continued. “We played with them until the end.”

Injuries have been a concern in the preseason for Izzo and the Spartans. Sophomore guard Jaden Akins has been out since September due to a foot injury.

“He won’t play until he can practice four or five days in a row,” Izzo said. “We don’t want to take any chances on him.”

Akins was seen shooting free throws at practice, but he was not running up and down the court with the team.

The freshmen will need to step up as the rotation will be small, in terms of number of players, this season. Guard Tre Holloman and forwards Carson Cooper and Jaxon Kohler will all have roles to play in the rotation.

“I’ve been pleased with all three freshmen,” Izzo said. “To me, they have made significant progress.”

Overall, the players are ready and excited for the season to get underway, especially Hoggard.

“Yeah, I’m ready,” Hoggard said. “We’re just working hard every day.”

Confidence within the team is at a high after the team’s performance in the scrimmage with Tennessee.

“I’m confident in our team and I feel coach is confident in our team,” Brooks said. “We could do something really special this year.”

The Spartans have an exhibition game against Grand Valley State on Nov. 1 before tipping off the regular season against Northern Arizona on Nov. 7.