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Notes & Quotes: Michigan State men’s basketball prepares for regular season, Jaden Akins progressing

“I’m feeling great,” Akins said. “It really felt good being back out there with the guys.”

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State men’s basketball hit the practice court in preparation for its start to the regular season.

The Spartans are coming off of an exhibition game victory against Grand Valley State, a 73-56 victory, on Tuesday. Head coach Tom Izzo said that he’s still disappointed in his team’s performance from that game.

The players had a day off from practice on Wednesday before returning to practice on Thursday afternoon.

“After having like 15 out of 17 really good practices, I think we’re in those dog days right now,” Izzo said.

Sophomore guard Jaden Akins underwent foot surgery in September. Akins has started to get involved with practice more and more.

“That was the most he’s done (since the injury),” Izzo said about Akins’ practice.

Izzo noted that if Akins can practice all throughout the weekend, he might play in the season opener against Northern Arizona on Monday. Izzo also said that he’s not going to push it regarding Akins’ injury.

“I’m feeling great,” Akins said when asked about his recovery. “It really felt good being back out there with the guys.

“I just know that I’m progressing,” Akins said. “Monday (against Northern Arizona) is up in the air.”

The regular season tips off in a matter of days as Michigan State opens against NAU at the Breslin Center on Monday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

“We looked at a couple teams that we are going to play in the future,” Izzo said. “We did not prepare for Northern Arizona today.”

There is no doubt that the Spartans have a tough non-conference schedule. Games against Gonzaga, Kentucky, Villanova and Alabama will challenge Michigan State early in the season.

The game against Gonzaga will be played on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier. This will be the second time in Michigan State basketball history that the Spartans will play a game on an aircraft carrier.

“I’m super excited for the game,” junior guard A.J. Hoggard said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Hoggard was 11 years old the first time Michigan State played on an aircraft carrier. The Spartans played legendary head coach Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels in that game in November of 2011.

“Just me being a young kid with my dad, just watching the game, it just was fun,” Hoggard said. “Now being able to be a part of it, it came full circle and it’s crazy.”