By Paul M. Banks
Welcome to a new quasi-weekly feature where we discuss some of the biggest topics in the Michigan State Spartan world, with the insight and observations of legendary coach Tom Izzo. This installment covers the ascension of sophomore forward Draymond Green.
Izzo has seen some of the best college basketball players of this generation come through his Michigan State program, so when he gives praise to Draymond Green, you know it matters A LOT.
“He’s a warrior, man. He’s a warrior,” Izzo said. “He just grits his teeth and doesn’t care about all the flash and dash. He is the perfect Spartan. He’s a blue-collar work horse. I’m going to ride him like a jackass. He’s tougher than nails and winning matters to him, it really does. I wish we had some more of those guys.”
TSB Spartans writer Jeff Ghiringhelli described Green perfectly:
“The Dancing Bear, as he is lovingly referred to by his teammates, plays 25 minutes per game this season, averaging 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.3 steals, and one block per game.
Coach Izzo has rewarded Green for his efforts by naming him a team captain, a very impressive feat for a sophomore that comes off the bench. Any regular viewer of Spartan basketball games knows that the commentators often talk about Green’s basketball IQ being “off the charts.” Those same viewers know that statement is right on the mark. He rarely makes mistakes (under 2 turnovers per game), and is very unselfish when he has the ball. Defensively he will gladly take a charge, and box out anyone on the court. He often wears his emotions on his sleeve, so whenever he makes a big play he gets both his teammates and the Spartan fans fired up.”
It’s one thing for Green’s own coach, Izzo to praise him, but conference rivals have taken note as well. Illinois coach Bruce Weber reflected Izzo’s statements.
“The kid cares,” Weber said. “He wants to win. He’ll do anything. He listens. He’s coachable. To me, it’s like (Charles) Barkley, a little bit. He’s got that big body but he’s got skills. And he’s as good a passer as anybody. Our big guys, they get the ball and running two dribbles, I’m stopping ‘em. He’s got a lot of things going for him and the thing that tops it and again, I’m on the outside watching in, is just his leadership, how he interacts with everyone including the coaches. The kid listens, he cares, he’s coachable,” Weber continued in a press conference following his most recent with the Spartans. Green had 17 pts (on 7-9 shooting) and 16 rebounds in that game, won by the Illini 78-73.
Later in the press conference another reporter asked Weber why he’s “Green with envy” because he doesn’t have a player like Draymond on his team. “Can’t say enough about Green, I just love the guy, I love his attitude, his body, his skill level, his intensity, there’s just so many things that he does well and he’s tough match-up for anybody.”
Weber, Izzo, and the rest of the Big Ten are also aware that the best is yet to come from Green, as the sophomore still has plenty of learning curve left before reaching his full potential.
Photo credits, flickr commonsFollow paulmbanks