East Lansing, MI
The #2 Michigan State Spartans are 25-5 (12-5) and while that itself is intimidating, what should make teams even more worried is that the Spartans are getting better. Every game a new player emerges as the Spartans remain on a roll.
One player who is coming down the stretch run of the season playing at a high level is Marvin Clark, Jr. The Spartans sophomore power forward out of Kansas City, MO started the season injured and struggled to get minutes once he returned. But back in the rotation he is making the most of his minutes and not just playing, but playing at a high level.
When players struggle to get minutes they often fall into a funk of self-pity and pouting. He told me earlier in the year, “I have to get better if I want more minutes.” Never a hindrance in the locker room, Clark is a terrific basketball player and young man.
So I asked Izzo about not losing Clark like you would with so many young players who get frustrated, and getting to see him really playing well down the stretch. Clark is one of his favorite players on this team and Izzo doesn’t hide it.
We’ve talked about Clark’s long road to MSU, and his sad struggles as a youth, haven’t held him back. CLICK HERE TO BE REMINDED OF THE TRAGEDY CLARK HAS GONE THROUGH.
Izzo told me, “Marv and Tum are good for Tom Izzo. They're good for my family. They're good for my kids. They're good for my program. I mean, they ... I can never say I know what you're going through. I wasn't brought up with a silver spoon. I didn't worldly things up there but I can never say I know what you're going through. I know what you've been through. And I think that's good. I think that's good, not for them, but it's good to have people like that around you. Tum appreciates every day he's even alive. I mean, I've never seen a guy happier. 'Coach, you need me for three minutes. I'll play three minutes.' I said 'What, you're not worried about your scoring average getting screwed up?' You can joke with him.”
He added, “But Marv. Marv is a little different in some ways. He's almost been through more in some ways but not quite as level headed as, and so it was more frustrating for him. The injury, the coming back, picking things up was a little harder for him, but it's been fun too, to you know, it started, we put him on the scout team. And every time I put a guy on the scout team, got him to play more in practice, maybe he got some confidence, maybe he had to learn things because you learn a new offense every two days, three days and it seemed to help him and then he got his break like everybody gets in the world. He got a break when Kenny (Goins) went down. And right now, he's playing with a lot more energy. He's getting some offensive rebounds. I feel he can guard people. We still have some issues with our guys, where if a team plays small or plays big, you know, we'll miss Kenny a little bit because he was kind of in between. But Marvin Clark is good for any place to have. He's an unbelievable kid. I wouldn't say he was the best student coming in. He's done an unbelievable job in school. He has done what you tell people. He has gotten a chance and he's making the best of it. Whether that's going to turn out to what kind of player he is, I don't know, but I like his chances."
There are some players who are blessed to be at MSU. Then a much smaller group that the Spartan Nation is blessed to have. Clark may never have his jersey retired at MSU, but he has a chance to be a key part of some great teams over his career, and he is already a great young man and an improving power forward.
The Spartans will tip off against Ohio State Saturday at 12 PM Saturday. That game can be seen on ESPN.