“I’m a lot more comfortable now that I’ve gotten a couple starts under my belt,” Michigan State Spartans point guard Keith Appling said last week following a victory over Northwestern in which he had five blocks.
“He’s going end up like Charlie Bell, one of the best defensive players that we’ve had,” MSU Coach Tom Izzo said.
Appling was inserted into the starting line-up at the beginning of conference play, mostly for his defensive prowess, but also give the Spartans more ball-handling ability in the first five. Given that turnovers have been their number one issue all season long, it makes sense.
By Paul M. Banks
“I came in known for my scoring, but a lot of people didn’t know I could lock up, but its nothing new to me even though it may surprise them,” the 2010 McDonald’s All-American and Michigan Mr. Basketball said.
But Appling still needs to find more shots and get more involved offensively. In the win over Wisconsin, he was 2-3 from the field for 5 points, following a scoreless performance in the loss at Penn State. He was also scoreless in another start, the victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
On the season he’s averaging 5.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, while shooting 43% from the field. His numbers don’t exactly jump out at you, but he does give State a second player in the starting five who can bring the ball up and set the offense; and that’s a great luxury to have because it keeps backup point guard Korie Lucious fresh to come off the bench. Within the next couple of years, Appling will take over for Kalin Lucas as MSU’s starting point guard; keeping the State position tradition alive.
Izzo talked about another one of Appling’s best attributes.
“He’s got a big heart and he’s not afraid of anything and like a lot of guys from (Detroit) Pershing High School he’s got some toughness to him,” Izzo said.
“My mom was tough, my father was tough, just something embedded in me,” Appling said.
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