Izzo Recaps '08, Looking Towards '09

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Just a few days removed from a lopsided loss in the NCAA tournament's round of 16, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo already is getting primed and pumped for next season.
The 2008-09 Spartans should be more athletic and perhaps even deeper than this year's team. But Izzo says developing leadership will be crucial to Michigan State's future fortunes.
"I feel better about our future," Izzo said Tuesday in a season wrap-up session with media. "We're getting back, we're getting a base. Players are starting to understand that it takes more to win championships than it does to win games. That's what I'm really excited about getting back to."
Purdue might be the logical choice as a preseason Big Ten favorite, but Izzo expects the Spartans should have enough to compete for a crown. Michigan State hasn't won a Big Ten title since 2001.
The Spartans will miss departing seniors Drew Neitzel and Drew Naymick. But plenty of experienced players should return including Raymar Morgan, Goran Suton, Kalin Lucas, Travis Walton, Chris Allen, Durrell Summers and Marquise Gray.
Gray will be recovering from knee surgery scheduled for this week. He suffered a torn meniscus in a practice before the Memphis game and likely will be sidelined until June.
A new wave of players arrives next season, led by Delvon Roe, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward. He was regarded as one of the nation's top high school players before having season-ending surgery on his right knee in December. Izzo said Tuesday that Roe's recovery is going well.
Saginaw high school star Draymond Green, a 6-7 forward, and Korey Lucious, a 5-10 guard from Milwaukee, also will be arriving as freshmen next year and could give the Spartans added athletic depth.
That could give the Spartans more power to rebound and run next season. They had trouble doing either against Memphis last week during a 92-74 loss in the NCAA South Region semifinal.
The Spartans finished at 27-9 -- a good season, but a cut below the nation's elite and what Izzo wants to accomplish. Michigan State had entered the season as the Big Ten favorite but finished fourth in the conference.
"I really do think there were a lot more positives than negatives," Izzo said of the season.

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