Accept The Target

By Jeff Lippman - October 28, 2007

CHICAGO -- Michigan State guard Travis Walton was a freshman the last time the Spartans were picked by the media to win the Big Ten in the preseason.

He can still remember that like it was yesterday.

Michigan State didn't win the Big Ten regular season or Tournament titles and it still reverberates inside Walton's head. But if everything happens for a reason, then that was a lesson well learned for the Tom Izzo, Walton and the Spartans.

Now, with Walton a junior and Big Ten preseason Player of the Year Drew Neitzel a senior, the Spartans have been chosen to win the conference's regular season crown once again, and this time, with 2005-06 fresh in his mind, Walton is striving not to let history repeat itself.

"It's great to be picked that high, but all that counts is the end of the year," Walton said wisely. "I still think about 2005 when we were picked No. 1 and Ohio State was picked No. 7 or eighth, but at the end of the year, they were on top. You still have to remember those times and use them as motivation. You have to accept the target and then live up to it.

We just have to go out and continue to play and not worry about it. Accept the target on our backs and be happy for it, but at the same time, we can’t worry about it and just go out there and play."

And while Ohio State and now Indiana are gunning for that target on the backs of the Spartans players, with lessons learned and more experience and talent than even that 2005 team had, Michigan State will attempt to get over that hump in 2007-08.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 04:21 PM on October 28, 2007

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