December 13, 2008

Roe Makes Strides In Win Over Alcorn State

Freshman forward Delvon Roe's baby steps back from his recent knee injury became a little larger in the last week. With his injured knee finally beginning to get back to normal, Roe reached the twenty minute mark in Saturday's 118-60 win over Alcorn State. Starting his third-straight game, Roe overcame a slow start to shoot 6-for-8 from the field, scoring 13 points and grabbing a team-high 8 rebounds.

"I thought early he was a little out of sync," said head coach Tom Izzo afterward. "I think he was so excited that he had three or four days of practice without having to sit out. I thought he hurried himself a bit early and had a couple of turnovers."

But as the game progressed, Roe showed flashes of the lateral quickness and overall athletic ability that made him the Spartans prize recruit of the 2007 class.

"He slowed himself down in the second half,' Izzo said. "One time he missed a shot and got back up so quick to get the rebound, I think you got a glimpse of what he can do. It's going to be frustrating for me, him and (the media) once in a while because there is going to be a free throw missed or an easy jump shot missed. It's going to take some time, but I like the way Delvon works. Everybody grows during Christmas. Freshmen usually grow a lot and injured freshman can grow (even more). And I think that's what we are looking forward too."

Roe talked about what it has felt like to finally be healthy.

"It feels good," Roe said. "It's nice to be able to get on the floor and get some time in without having to be taken out every couple of minutes."

Has the adjustment in this process been hard?

"It's not hard," Roe said. "It's just important that I realize that I need to take my time because pf the history with my knees. I have to take things slowly. I use the analogy of a baseball pitcher coming back from injury. You don't come back and throw 100 pitches your first game. You came back gradually and slowly build up to that 100 pitch mark. And I think I'm slowly starting to build up to that 20, 25 minute mark where I should be. It's good to know that I can get out there play efficient and not just go through the motions."

When did Roe begin to feel that he was getting back to normal?

"During this four or five practice stretch we just had," Roe said. "I kept getting better each practice - making jump shots; making good moves running the floor; playing pretty good defense; knowing my assignments. Instead of stopping to think of things I'm just playing within the flow of the game. Tonight was the first time I really felt that and Coach Izzo told me that too."

With the depth that the Spartans now possess, the quality and intensity of the holiday practices could help the entire roster grow. The starting five (which includes Roe) is being challenged in practice everyday by the second five, which includes fellow freshman Korie Lucious and Draymond Green, as well as veterans like Marquise Gray and Durrell Summers.

"It means a lot," Roe said of the practice intensity, "because we know that our second five could play or even start for most other teams in the country. When you have a team like that where you can play five against five you're going to get something out of each and every practice."

What does Roe feel that he need to work on as the season progresses?

"I'm stressing everything," Roe said. "I'm just trying to get better at all parts of my game. If you spend time concentrating on one particular thing, you may let other parts of your game slip. So I'm just keeping focus and everything a little at a time so I can move ahead in all aspects."

With the first semester of his college career complete, Roe talked about the adjustment to college academics.

"School is going well. I'm glad I don't have to talk about it for another month," he said with a smile. "Now I get to relax and focus on basketball for awhile."

What is Roe planning to major in during his four years on campus?

"I'm studying criminal justice," Roe said. "I'm going to get into that next semester."

What does he hope to do with that degree after his playing days are over?

"I want to be an FBI agent. "Not like Shaq though, it's going to be the real thing," Roe said with a laugh.

With Roe well on the way back and veteran big man Suton on the mend, the Spartans look to enter the stretch run of the non-conference season on a healthy high-note. For Tom Izzo, healthy players, depth and practice time will mean that the Spartans can get their rotations and playing groups in sync for the start of the Big Ten season which is just 18 days away.

"We have a long way to go," Izzo said, "but the good thing is that Suton started to run a little bit today. Now with getting more out of Marquise, Day Day and Delvon is going to improve. I think we're going to have the depth on the inside and on the perimeter and we can start getting into a pattern. That's what these next couple of weeks will be for."

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