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2 Michigan State The athletic Spartans will turn up the jets and try to run opponents off the court

While working with a trainer over the summer to improve his
leaping ability, Michigan State junior swingman Alan Anderson
learned a simple but useful axiom: The faster you run, the higher
you jump. That could serve as the watchword for the Spartans, who
after winning or sharing four straight Big Ten titles from
1997-98 through 2000-01, plodded to fifth-and third-place
finishes in the last two seasons. "We want to get back to running
and wearing people down," coach Tom Izzo says. "This might be our
most athletic team ever." And he's including the 1999-2000 team,
featuring Charlie Bell, Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Jason
Richardson, that won the national championship.

The current edition doesn't have a dominating floor leader to
match Cleaves, but the 6'6", 220-pound Anderson does give the
Spartans a tall and versatile ball handler who's adept at running
the offense. Anderson had never played point guard before Izzo
shifted him to that position last February, but the move sparked
the team's late-season run to the Elite Eight. "Our point guard
has to know everybody's spots on the court, and that's a lot of
responsibility," Anderson says. "I know if I can play that
position here, I can play it anywhere."

Chris Hill will start at shooting guard, but can take over the
point whenever Anderson moves to the wing. Freshman Brandon
Cotton, a McDonald's All-American last year, is also available at
the point. The Spartans will need consistently strong play from
the backcourt because they don't have much frontline depth. Last
season injuries hampered their flashiest wing players, sophomore
Maurice Ager and junior Kelvin Torbert. Ager missed the first six
games with a stress fracture in his right foot and two other
games after fainting in practice. (He's been given a clean bill
of health entering this season.)

Torbert had surgery in November 2002 to remove a large bone spur
in his left ankle and never returned to form before the season
ended. But over the summer and fall he regained the explosiveness
that made him the national high school player of the year in
2000-01. "Kelvin seems a lot more energized now," Hill says. "He
finally got his legs back."

If the same can be said for the rest of the team, all Anderson
has to do is get the Spartans running again, and they should jump
back into title contention. --S.D.


COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS OVER THE TOP The versatile Anderson's move to the point jump-started Michigan State's late charge to the Elite Eight.


2002-03 RECORD: 22-13 (10-6, T3 in Big Ten)
TOURNAMENT: Lost to Texas in Elite Eight



SF Kelvin Torbert[1] 6'4" Jr. 3.8 rpg
PF Jason Andreas 6'10" Sr. 1.3 rpg
C Paul Davis 6'10" Soph. 7.8 ppg
SG Chris Hill[1] 6'3" Jr. 13.7 ppg
PG Alan Anderson[1] 6'6" Jr. 9.8 ppg


an opposing coach's view

"They have experience at guard--that's all you need in college
basketball now--and they have four guys, maybe five, who are
going to be pros.... CHRIS HILL might be the best shooter in the
conference. Last season they started out playing him at the point
because he's smart, but that hurt his ability to create. He was
better off the ball.... PAUL DAVIS started slowly last season
because he wasn't ready for this level of competition, but his
confidence improved. He's not terribly quick, and he's a little
too dominant with his right hand, but he doesn't have any major
weaknesses.... If [reserve guard] MO AGER were playing anywhere
else, he'd not only be starting but also might be the best player
on his team."


Games, out of 66 in his career, in which Chris Hill had at least
one three-pointer, including a streak of 47 games that ended last