February 8, 2010

Lucas' return uncertain for showdown with Purdue

EAST LANSING - Michigan State is coming off back-to-back games for the first time this season after playing Wisconsin and Illinois on the road to kick off the second half of the Big Ten season. The environments at both the Kohl Center and Assembly Hall were phenomenal according to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who would like to see Michigan State fans give their team a similar lift at the Breslin Center tomorrow night when the Spartans take on Purdue.

Home court advantage could play a significant role in the outcome of the game against Purdue if junior point guard Kalin Lucas is not able to play for the second consecutive game.

"There is no question that Michigan State had the toughest place to play for a lot of years," Izzo said. "And there is no question that it is not at that level right now. But our team hasn't been at that level either the last two games. I've got my own job to do, but I always urge and say that we don't just win games because of our team. Illinois does beat us on a neutral site playing the same way that we played, if you ask me. And Wisconsin, there wasn't an empty seat in the house and they were there early. They had a big part in the win. I do think that there has been some complacency the last two or three years.

"The truth of it is that my team has to play better, I have to coach better, and maybe they have to cheer better. If the three of those things happen, we have a team that can go a long ways, we have team that can win the Big Ten championship, we have a team that can play late in March. If they don't happen, all three of those, we have a good basketball team. Unfortunately, those are dime a dozen."

Izzo does not know if Lucas will be in the line-up for Purdue, but the Spartan head coach did indicate that if there was any way his player was able to go, he would.

"I feel comfortable and I know that he is tough enough that if he can play, he is going to play," said Izzo. "Some other guys, I might say, 'Oh god, he is not going to play until he is 98 percent.' Kalin is going to play if he has to hobble. He has some (Mateen) Cleaves in him like that. Whether he can be efficient, that is another thing."

Michigan State missed Lucas the most in the final minutes of their game against Illinois. Turnovers in crunch time cost Michigan State dearly. Those turnovers might have been avoided if Lucas had been the player with the ball in his hands.

"A lot of people have asked me if it is comparable to losing a (Goran) Suton or Raymar (Morgan)," said Izzo. "I think you can lose a Suton or a Morgan or you can lose a (Jon) Leuer from Wisconsin. Even though he is a very good player, he is not going to do it down the stretch. What we are trying to realize is that when you lose Turner at Ohio State, they go 1-3. When you lose Hummel last year, a guy that is going to have the ball in his hands at the end, it is a little bit more difficult. We are trying to adjust to that."

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