Michigan state guard Charlie Bell spent part of the summer playing in a pro-am league back home in Flint, with former Spartans Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Antonio Smith, but the Flintstones struggled before taking the tide. "It was tough," Bell says. "Everybody wanted to prove they could beat the champs."
Bell can expect more of the same this season. This may actually be a deeper and more talented team than the one that won the national championship last April, but the Spartans' chances of repeating hinge on whether they can replace Cleaves's leadership. "Mateen just brought all the intangibles," coach Tom Izzo says. "We have a very skilled team, but the intangibles aren't there yet."
Izzo hopes that Bell, a three-year starter at shooting guard, will be a source of those intangibles. For 13 games last season Bell did a very good job of running the offense while Cleaves was out with a broken foot; he should ease the way for freshman Marcus Taylor to take over the point. Taylor is a Lansing, Mich., native who, when he was 10, attended the summer camp of Magic Johnson in Los Angeles for a week and stayed at Johnson's house while he was there.
Michigan State also brings back leading rebounder Andre Hutson and swingman Jason Richardson, who is poised for a breakout year, in addition to three reserves who averaged at least 13 minutes per game last season: center Aloysius Anagonye and swingmen Mike Chappell and David Thomas.
Bell, however, likes to work on jigsaw puzzles in his spare time, so he understands it's not enough to have the pieces. They also have to fit together. "We have a lot of weapons," Bell says. "If we can get clicking, I think we have a chance to win it all again."
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