By Paul M. Banks
Michigan St. is starting to round into “midseason form” now. In whipping #25 Northwestern by 20+ points last night in Evanston, they looked like a team with great inside-outside balance, and perfect symmetry between the half court and transition games. Like all Tom Izzo coached teams, the Spartans help to find their balance by dominating the boards, and their second leading rebounder, sophomore forward Delvon Roe, is a big reason why.
“We’re trying to get a rhythm, trying to play together and get comfortable with each other, get that chemistry that you want to get right before your conference play starts,” Roe said about things starting to come together for the Spartans.
Roe played basketball at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio where he was the state’s player of the year. During his senior season, he played a home game on ESPN2, with a dunk that has been viewed tens of thousands of times on YouTube. As a class of 2008 recruit, he was rated 5-star, 24th overall best player in the nation by Rivals. This despite missing most of his senior season with a knee injury.
As a freshman, Roe averaged 18 minutes a game on the national runner-up Spartans. As his knee convalesced, Roe continued to improve and he was eventually named to the Big-Ten All Freshman Team.
In the Big Ten Conference season, Roe had an Offensive Rebounding Percentage of 14.0%, a Defensive Rebounding Percentage of 22.3%, and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 57.6%. Going back to the 1996-1997 season, the only freshman from a BCS conference to do better than Roe in all three of those categories in conference play was Kevin Love of UCLA in the 2007-2008 season.
“We try to keep instilling in this team is just crashing the glass and getting those second chance points,” Roe said about the Spartans cleaning the glass like Windex. MSU is averaging 14.5 offensive rebounds a game, leading to 17 second chance points per contest. Delvon leads the team with 3 offensive rebounds per outing. This season all his numbers are going up as he’s seeing more minutes on the court. But Roe knows he’s got fundamentals to work on in order to take his game to the next level.
“My shot and my free throws, I just need to keep working on stuff like that,” Roe said during the exclusive I had with him upon his visit to Chicago. When you watch the big man in action, you might notice the old cartoon Spartan head logo (the gruff Sparty if you will) with “MSU” tattooed below it in the shoulder area of his arm.
I asked him what he learned from the recent tradition of star MSU big men. “Just how to play in the system, and work and get harder, be a team defender, and how to run the lane, and do the intangibles,” the athletic combo forward replied. Roe also said his favorite NBA players to model his game on are Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, and Antawn Jamison.
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