Posted February 05, 2013 on AP on Fox
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By LARRY LAGE AP Sports Writer Michigan State needs freshman Denzel Valentine to turn his potential into production. Soon. ''I'm expecting big things out of him,'' Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. The versatile guard likely will play an expanded role when the 12th-ranked Spartans (18-4, 7-2 Big Ten) host No. 18 Minnesota (18-4, 5-4) on Wednesday night. ''He's not a freshman anymore,'' Izzo said. ''One way or another, we're going to need him.'' Backup point guard Travis Trice wasn't in uniform during Monday's practice while starting shooting guard Gary Harris participated in some drills with his teammates. Trice and Harris were both knocked out of last week's win against Illinois. Harris had back spasms. Trice had a head injury and needs to pass a concussion test to play. Izzo said he doubts Trice will be in the lineup against the Golden Gophers and said Harris probably will be able to play. ''If those two guys couldn't play, we are down to the nitty gritty,'' Izzo said. Harris said he's feeling better after dealing with back spasms for the first time. He hopes to play Wednesday. Valentine played for his father, Carton, a former Spartan, in high school and led Lansing Sexton to two straight Class B state championships. When Izzo was an assistant, Carlton Valentine was playing for former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote. Now that Izzo is in charge of the program, and is coaching his son, he tries to avoid being an overbearing presence. ''He trusts the coaches,'' Denzel Valentine said. ''He doesn't need to overdo it because I get enough of it out here.'' Valentine and reporters chuckled because he often catches the wrath of his intense coach. ''My dad was kind of that like,'' he said. ''He got after us, too. It has been passed down from generation to generation. He played here, and he learned after Jud and coach (Izzo) learned after Jud. I was kind of prepared for. It's nothing I can't handle. Coach is a good coach who gets you motivated in certain ways.'' Valentine is coming off perhaps his best game and the timing might be perfect for his team. He scored a season-high 14 points to help Michigan State rally in the second half to beat the Fighting Illini. He also grabbed three rebounds, made two assists and had a steal. ''I needed a game like this to get my confidence back, especially with Travis gone and Gary out,'' Valentine said. More importantly for the team, he had only one turnover. In Valentine's last six games, he has had two turnovers once and one or fewer in every other game. The previous seven games, he averaged three-plus turnovers. After getting frustrated by Valentine's carelessness with the ball, Izzo is starting to trust him again. ''What's the main difference in games?'' Izzo asked. ''It's turnovers. It doesn't matter what sport.'' Valentine insisted he would feel pressure to perform no matter what school he chose to attend, then acknowledged he does have more people watching him closely - and staying in touch with him - because he's playing next to his hometown. And, he's the son of a former Spartans standout. ''I try not to feed into everybody texting me and calling me about what I need to do and what I need not to do,'' he said. ''I just need to listen to my coaches and teammates and coaches and I'll be fine.'' --- Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Spartans may rely on Valentine

Michigan State needs freshman Denzel Valentine to turn his potential into production. Soon. ''I'm expecting big things out of him,'' Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. The versatile guard likely will play an expanded role when the 12th-ranked Spartans (18-4, 7-2 Big Ten) host No. 18 Minnesota (18-4, 5-4) on Wednesday night. ''He's not a freshman anymore...

Injury Bug Hits the Spartans, Again:

  Michigan State came back last game, after being down 10 at home against Illinois. The Spartans were hit with the injury bug again as Gary Harris and Travis Trice both left the game without returning. Keith Appling stepped up in a big way, finishing with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and a block. The newly named captain, or #CaptainKeith as I have been calling him on twitter...

Michigan State Basketball: No. 12 Spartans look to settle the score against No. 25 Minnesota

EAST LANSING — Remember just one month ago when the Golden Gophers were arguably the best team in the nation? Well, the Michigan State Spartans do. The then-No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-5, 5-4) opened the Big Ten season with a 76-63 victory over the then-No. 18 Michigan State Spartans (18-4, 7-2) on the last day of 2012. Fast forward a little more than a month later, and...

Michigan State RB recruit R.J. Shelton, “We will beat Michigan every year.”

Wednesday marked a huge day in thousands of high school kids’ futures as they formally declared where they will be spending the next handful of years.  Obviously the adrenaline is flowing as players don the colors of their new school hoping to make that school’s alumni proud. Michigan State received an official commitment from running back R.J. Shelton, a three-star recruit...

Finally, the Gophers have a chance to play a bit of consequence-free basketball.

And now, for one night only, the Golden Gophers can play some consequence-free basketball against the Michigan State Spartans. Two wins last week gave the Gophers  a bit of breathing room. Losing five out of six games would have put the Gophers squarely on the bubble, or even the wrong side of the bubble, and Wednesday evening's game in East Lansing  would have been a true...
Spartans News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.