All this week and leading up to MSU’s season opener on Nov. 8 against McNeese State, I’ll break down every scholarship player on the Spartans’ roster. These should serve as your primer for the remaining exhibition game Monday against Division II opponent Indiana (Pa.).
Next up on the numerical list is No. 10 Matt Costello, a big man who is competing for a starting job on the low blocks in just his second season as a Spartan.
PLAYER: Matt Costello
POSITION: Power forward
HOMETOWN/HIGH SCHOOL: Auburn/Bay City Western HS
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-10, 240
2012-13 TOTALS: 30 games (0 starts), 1.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 6.1 mpg, 46.9 pct. FG, 82.4 pct. FT
WEAKNESS: Lack of quickness
ROLE: Rebounding and shot-blocking presence in the paint
PUSHING TO START: Coach Tom Izzo gave Costello the early edge at replacing Derrick Nix at center in the Spartans’ starting lineup. However, he said it’s a three-way battle between the rugged second-year player and fourth-year junior Alex Gauna and true freshman Gavin Schilling for the 27-plus minutes a game that Nix left behind.
“It’s an everyday thing where we’re always matched up against each other. It’s tough, but it’s fun. It makes all of us better,” Costello said. “So when we get into the season, other big men are probably going to struggle because we have three guys who can come in and keep pounding on them.
“Even though it is a battle, it is a good thing. Competition makes people better.”
TRUE GRIT: Costello suffered a back injury during practice shortly before last season opened and took some time to work into Izzo’s rotation as a freshman. By the end of the year, he provided a defensive energy off the bench and a more athletic presence at center than Nix.
“He can shoot the 16-foot shot. He’s got toughness,” Izzo said. “It’s getting a little more pop, a little more pogo-stick jumping. Sometimes, it takes him too long. He’s a good rebounder, but he’s got to get up quicker, and that’s what he’s been working on this summer.
“He’s been a gym rat, boy. He’s been maybe as good a big man as I’ve ever had at working on his game. He just lives in the gym.”
BLUE-COLLAR MAN: Costello’s work ethic is something that Izzo loves. And if there’s one thing that Izzo loves, it’s a hard worker with talent.
Costello could be on his way to becoming one of Izzo’s pets, and he’s already likened him to one of his all-time favorites in Draymond Green.
With a long wingspan also help him block shots, Costello and Payne could be two of the toughest for opposing post players to shoot over, especially when paired together. Costello also provides an inside yin to Payne’s outside yang, with a rugged body, soft hands and fast feet as some of Costello’s best attributes.
“I think of Costello a little bit like Day-Day. He uses his intelligence over his athletic ability,” Izzo said. “He’s not a bad athlete – in fact, he’s a very good athlete. He just doesn’t have great quickness laterally. But he’s smart and he understands the game, so he’s become a pretty good shot-blocker. He has good timing.”
PREVIOUS PLAYER PROFILES
Quick hits from Tom Izzo on the Spartans.