March 15, 2012

Kearney could be an X-factor off bench in tourney

EAST LANSING - Michigan State freshman Brandan Kearney did not like the way he played during the opening game of the Big Ten Tournament against Iowa.

"I got my butt busted a little bit in the Iowa game towards the end," admitted Kearney. "I was kind of fueled by that. I was back in the hotel pretty mad and I just wanted to come back in each game and get better."

Kearney played better against Wisconsin one day later. But the 6-foot-5, 185-pound former Detroit Southeastern standout still had more to give. That is why Michigan State coach Tom Izzo took Kearney aside for 25 minutes the night before the Spartans defeated Ohio State to let him know what he could do to help his team.

Izzo challenged the freshman to play with the type of energy he had during the first half of the Big Ten regular season when Kearney had given the Spartans a spark off the bench on defense.

"I don't know if he got a little bit frustrated that he wasn't playing as much or maybe as the season wore on you get that freshman slump," said Izzo. "He was still playing pretty well, but he wasn't playing with the same energy."

Kearney was a spark for Michigan State in a 68-64 victory over Ohio State in championship of the Big Ten Tournament.

"There were times he over-defended," said Izzo. "He was out to half court and he got beat one time. But it was a nice effort related beat. Kearney has got a spot because he can do some things and now he is starting to figure it out. He is shooting the ball better in practice and he is going to be a heck of a player here if he keeps progressing and gets stronger in the summer and we are definitely going to be able use him more down the stretch especially with (Branden Dawson) out."

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