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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Draymond Green continues Michigan State's tradition of loyalty, dedication

SpartanJim asked us to highlight this article from the Detroit News...  Thanks Jim!


East Lansing— On some nights, it's very easy to see the value of Draymond Green.

     That was certainly the case on Dec. 10 when the Michigan State senior scored a career-high 34 points in a victory at Gonzaga.
     He was the best player on the floor that night, making 11 of 13 shots, including a 4-for-5 performance from 3-point range and making 8 of 9 free throws. Throw in four assists and there was little Green did not do in the Spartans' eighth straight victory.
     In other games, however, it's the small things that Green does that make him so valuable.
     In a win over Bowling Green on Saturday, Green had
only 12 points, but 10 rebounds and six assists.

Performances like the one against Bowling Green have become almost expected from Green. If not for a few missed shots from his teammates, he might have recorded his second career triple-double. But the final stat line was more like his season averages — 15.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists.

While he wasn't the leading scorer on that night, there's no doubt he's the leader of this team.

"I was really proud of him tonight," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said on Saturday. "He may have taken one bad shot, but he's allowed one bad shot a game. But geez, he did a nice job passing when they doubled him, he did a nice job rebounding, he made some power moves that I thought were good. He's getting more comfortable at the 3-point line.

"What I like best is that he's showing more and more leadership. I'm starting to feel so comfortable with him. If he wanted to coach the team, I'd probably turn it over to him."

That would probably be music to Green's ears. Since he arrived on campus as a chubby freshman in 2008, he has always been vocal. And now that he is a senior, he's using everything at his disposal to help mold a relatively inexperienced team into one that can get Michigan State back to the Final Four.

"Coming into the season it was a challenge with a lot of young guys and trying to get them to the level where you need to be to win," Green said. "For the most part it has been fun, really fun pulling the young guys along and it makes it a lot better when you've got guys that want to learn. When they're listening, everything just flows together."

But Green didn't become Michigan State's leader overnight. Sure, he always had it within him, but when you come to a program like Michigan State's, there are plenty of people to look to for guidance.

"I've learned a lot over my years from guys in front of me like Travis Walton and (Goran) Suton and that class," Green said. "Then Raymar (Morgan) and those guys, Kalin (Lucas) and Durrell (Summers). I learned something from all of those guys and it only helps that Mateen (Cleaves) is back every other week and guys like (Kelvin Torbert), all those guys had success in this program."

What all of those players have helped create, and Green is carrying through with, is a family atmosphere that's committed to keeping the program among the best in the nation.

"That's the great thing about this program," Green said. "Anytime you need to talk to one of those guys, even Magic (Johnson), who is one of the busiest men in America. If you need to talk to him, some type of way you're going to get him within two days. That says a lot about this program, we all stick together. Everybody is in it together, no matter if you've been gone for 20 years, 30 years, 10, five or two. Everybody sticks together and that makes everything a lot better."

Green says the relationship among current and former players is a lot like the one he has with his family — whenever you need them, they are there.

And when Green dominated iin Michigan State's win at Gonzaga, it was about more than what he did as a player. Green said it was as much a testament to the program as anything.

"I know Mateen Cleaves wouldn't go into Gonzaga and bow down," Green said. "He's going into Gonzaga and carrying his team. I owe that to those guys because games like that are program wins, not just team wins or a win for this year, those are program wins. That's just all about the guys that came before me and has little to do with me and what I had to do."

And while Green has certainly become a better player this season — he spent all summer working on his shot and playing for USA Basketball — it's that commitment to the program that will be his legacy at Michigan State.

When he was asked if he would be OK with fewer individual numbers and more victories, Green didn't hesitate.

"The only number I care about is the win," he said.

You can bet even after Green is long gone as a player, Michigan State wins will be high on his priority list.

After all, it's what he's been taught by those that came before him.


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