Tom Izzo Recaps 2006-07 Season

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State won a postseason game in its 10th straight NCAA tournament, and every significant player will be back next year.
With a highly rated recruiting class and a redshirt freshman added, it's easy to understand why coach Tom Izzo is looking forward to getting his team back on the court.
"We can be really, really good next season," Izzo said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. "The key is, every player needs to get better to make that a reality.
"I've always believed that players are made in the summer, and teams are made in the winter."
Former Spartan great Magic Johnson, without a word from Izzo, said much the same after North Carolina beat Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
"He told everybody to work on their game and what they need to improve on, and we will be back here next year," point guard Travis Walton recalled.
The Spartans surpassed projections this season, winning 23 games after losing a trio of stars and asking Drew Neitzel to go from being a role player to a standout.
"From the very start of the season, people didn't expect us to have this type of a year," said Neitzel, an All-Big Ten player and Wooden Award finalist. "We just fought a lot of adversity this season with a lot of injuries."
But the bar will be high again next year for the elite program.
Michigan State's entire nine-man rotation will be back, plus 7-foot center Tom Herzog after he redshirted this season and freshmen Kalin Lucas, Chris Allen and Durrell Summers.
Each of the newcomers are good enough to push for playing time, Izzo said, giving the Spartans as many as eight reserves.
"The only problem I see is that guys might expect us to get better without knowing what it takes to get better," Izzo said. "As coaches, there's only so much we can do in the offseason because of NCAA rules. So, it's up to the players to push each other to make sure that we're not satisfied with what we did this year."
While Izzo is cautiously optimistic about next season, he is confident it will be a better year for two reasons.
"No. 1, we had no depth this year and that shouldn't be a problem next season," he said. "We should have no trouble playing nine guys regularly, and we could easily go even deeper off the bench at times.
"And, the inconsistent play that we got from our inside players really hurt us and that should get better. Marquise Gray made a ton of improvements, but he can get better. Goran Suton showed flashes of his potential, but he needs to be more consistent. And, we're really excited with how much stronger Herzog got as a redshirt."


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