It’s that time of year where the winter sports are starting to get going.
Tuesday was a busy day with football interviews, men’s basketball media day, hockey announcing its captains and the Spartan football team receiving a commitment.
Here’s a look of some of the developments.
On the football front, there have been plenty of changes on the depth chart. Andre Sims Jr. or Le’Veon Bell are listed as the punt returners and Nick Hill fell off the two-deep at that spot but will remain returning kicks.
“I want to take the pressure off or the stress off of Nick a little bit. I guess the stress would be the deal. I want to take that off him a little bit,” Dantonio said when asked about that. “I do still have faith that he can go back there and catch a punt. But I think it’s decision making at times. A.J. (Andre Sims) has been consistent, but he’s a redshirt freshman, so we try not to put him in that situation. We just want to allow him to flourish there. He’s got punts already in games, so he’s been good. He’s a gamer. He’s got a great deal of confidence, and I think Le’Veon enters that situation as well.”
With starting tight end and leading receiver Dion Sims out for Saturday’s game against Iowa, Paul Lang, Andrew Gleichert and Derek Hoebing are listed as the starters at tight end. But Lawrence Thomas likely figures to play more of a role in the passing game.
“He does because he’s very much like a tight end,” Dantonio said. “So he’s a guy, and I don’t think I’m tipping, but he’s a guy that is similar to Dion in a lot of respects. So it could go beyond that. He’s been figuring in, and I think he’s a guy that can make plays for us.”
Taiwan Jones or Chris Norman are listed as starters at the STAR linebacker. Jones said after practice he took most of the reps with the first team on Tuesday and that Norman has handled the situation well. Here is more of the football news and notes.
Then there was the announcement of Delton Williams, the teammate of quarterback recruit Damion Terry, committing to MSU at a news conference at his school. He is regarded as an athlete but said he will likely start his career on defense for the Spartans.
With basketball, one of the main stories was Derrick Nix and Russell Byrd being named captains. Graham Couch writes that this duo makes sense as the team leaders for the Spartans this season.
Tom Izzo said he feels pretty good about this team and believes there are a lot of things going for this year’s version. Big men Adreian Payne and Nix will be playing together and true freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine or Byrd could be the starting 2 guard for the Spartans alongside point guard Keith Appling and wing Branden Dawson.
Speaking of Dawson, he is an X-factor for the Spartans this season.
Here is Izzo on this year’s freshmen:
On Denzel Valentine: “He’s probably impressed me the most because at 6’5″ he has incredible vision and great understanding of the game. He jumps eight to ten times better than his dad did, and that’s very critical to me, too. He’s shooting the ball a lot better than I thought. He has been a good leader, a good player. If he’s got to work on something, it would probably be his lateral quickness and guarding different people, but he’ll be a guy we’ll be able to move around and play at three positions.”
On Matt Costello: “Matt Costello is big and strong. He’ll battle Nix every day. He is a big, strong kid with a shooting touch, 17, learning how to run better. He struggled this summer with his first two steps. In high school a lot of loping up and down the floor, and struggled with that, and then all of a sudden started showing some ability to block shots and make shots, and so I’m excited about his future.”
On Gary Harris: “Gary Harris has been every bit and more the billing. He’s shot the ball better than I thought he could. He’s a phenomenal athlete that can do some great things, handles the ball pretty well, has a great understanding.”
On Kenny Kaminski: “Everybody knows he hurt the shoulder again, and he’s probably going to be out the year. But he is recovering a lot faster than he was, and I think he’ll be able to at least come back by the Big Ten season or shortly after the way it looks, so then there will be some decisions made.”
Also Izzo could get one of his first big chips in the 2013 class Thursday. James Young is expected to announce his college decision on ESPNU at 5 p.m., reports analyst Dave Telep. Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas are also in on Young.
On the ice, Greg Wolfe was named MSU’s captain this season. Wolfe roomed with last year’s captain – Torey Krug. Matt Grassi, Chris Forfar and Anthony Hayes are the assistant captains.