March 14, 2010
Lucas says he and teammates ready to elevate play
EAST LANSING - Michigan State's backcourt was considered by many experts to be the best in all of college basketball during the preseason. But Kalin Lucas and Michigan State's collection of guards and wings have not lived up to that billing during most of the 2009-2010 college basketball calendar.
Lucas had been the most consistent all-around player for Michigan State until suffering an ankle injury during a conference game with Wisconsin. After it appeared that Lucas was out of the woods with the ankle injury, the junior from Detroit had an infection in his two which also kept him from reaching his ceiling during late February and early March.
With one week of practice separating Michigan State from their first-round game with New Mexico State, Lucas is hoping that he and the rest of his teammates will find a way to do what so many other Spartan teams have done during the Tom Izzo era and make the adjustments necessary for a long run in the NCAA tourney.
Lucas said that both he and his teammates are motivated to show the college basketball world that they are better than they showed in a quarterfinal loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament.
"It is the same thing as last year," Lucas said. "A lot of people didn't think we were a Final Four team last year after we lost in the Big Ten tournament. We had to prove ourselves last year and this year we are going to have to do the same thing."
Michigan State players are not complaining about being a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. At the same time, the Spartans feel like they should have played better than they did in a lot of games that probably led to that selection.
"One thing we have to do is come together more as a team," Lucas said. "We have to have a good focus now, a better focus. If you lose you are done. We have to come out more hungry from now on and try and make a run."
If Michigan State makes it through the first weekend in Spokane, they will likely find themselves facing a Kansas team that they beat twice last year. But this year's Spartan team does not have the interior personnel that last year's squad possessed and Michigan State must find away to take advantage of the talent they have in the backcourt.
Michigan State needs defense out of Chris Allen and Durrell Summers. Allen has been the best defensive player on this year's Spartan roster, but there is an element of unknown with Allen who is playing in his first game since being suspended for the first round game of the Big Ten tournament.
"I think Chris' head is good," said Lucas. "We didn't really go that long today but he had a lot of energy. He made his shots and played good defense. I think he is going to be ready to go."
Summers was benched in the second half after playing poor defense on Minnesota sharpshooter Blake Hoffarber.
"Durrell and coach met this morning," Lucas said. "I hope things are back right with them two. We need both Durrell and Chris to play well if we are going to win."
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