LANSING, Mich. — Senior leadership will be the key to the success of the Michigan State Men's Basketball team as the regular season draws to a close.
At a press conference on Monday, team members spoke about the tough four-game stretch that the No. 24 Spartans face to end conference play, and how important veteran experience will be. MSU will square-off against four ranked teams, starting with No. 18 Iowa in the Breslin Center on Tuesday.
"We got some guys who do, but we also got guys who don't know what it takes," said Cassius Winston, star senior point guard. "So just that mentality going into practice, going into games knowing each and every day that our season is coming to an end. We got a chance to make it very special, but everyone has to lock in and buy in to what we're doing."
Kyle Ahrens, a fifth-year guard, talked about how the upperclassmen try to help the younger players who lack experience.
"Just having the experience that we have, you know; me, Cassius [Winston], Xavier [Tillman], C.G. [Connor George], "Henny" [Aaron Henry] and all those guys... just relaying it to the younger guys and when they're getting flustered or frustrated, always have their back and calm them down and just make a push," said Ahrens.
In their most recent game against Nebraska, Ahrens gave the Spartans a spark on and off the floor, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He reportedly gave a passionate speech during halftime, imploring his teammates to play with more heart and energy.
Head coach Tom Izzo spoke about Ahrens' impact during the press conference.
"I don't want to make Kyle out to be our hero anything, but I do think that he can give us a lot," Izzo said. "He's got five years of experience, probably right up there with one of the toughest players we have."
Tip-off between the Spartans and Hawkeyes is scheduled for 7 p.m. Michigan State will then hit the road for a two-game stint, first playing at No. 9 Maryland on Saturday before traveling to No. 16 Penn State on March 3. The final conference game of the season for M.S.U. will take place at the Breslin Center on March 8, when the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes come to town.
Consistency from leadership will determine the Spartans' fate as the team prepares for the Big Ten Tournament.
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