Byrd's the Word: Michigan State Spartans' Russell Byrd is Making Progress, Could See Increased Role in 2012-13

Byrd Has Battled Injuries and Inconsistencies

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COMMENTARY| Expecting Keith Appling to lead the Michigan State Spartans guards this season is a given. He has it all and isn't afraid to put on a show when needed.

However, with the season inching closer -- and it'll come sooner than expected, as it usually does -- questions regarding the other guards should be answered, or at least addressed. Today, I'll take a look at Russell Byrd, who has immense potential but has faced a few hurdles during his two years at Michigan State.

Byrd entered East Lansing with a reputation for accuracy. He has a great stroke, he's just had trouble tuning in for one reason or another. He battled injuries and inconsistencies in 2010-11, which certainly derailed any type of progress he made after high school. Once he regained at least part of his health, Byrd, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard from Indiana, averaged only 5.5 minutes per game for Tom Izzo's Spartans.

In a 92-75 thrashing of Iowa Hawkeyes, Byrd scored eight points in 10 minutes. There is a scorer hiding in that lanky frame of his. As mentioned, he didn't play much last year. Going 0-for-5 against Arkansas-Little Rock probably didn't give Izzo much motivation to put Byrd into the rotation, either. But the redshirt frosh was behind other talented players, so Izzo likely wanted to take a smooth and steady approach.

Byrd can be a valuable asset to the Spartans, who took a liking to perimeter shooting a year ago. He showed that he's taking steps in the right direction during recent workouts, which is a welcoming sign for a team that could have used his marksmanship in 2011-12.

"He is definitely going to be in the playing group now," Izzo told Spartan Mag. "He has made some progress, big progress. He has to stay injury free. But this is the first time he has been injury free and he has had a chance to work on that shot for a month and a half.

"Yesterday, he just looked so much more comfortable. It has been a hard time for him because of the injuries. It has just been one after another after another. It has been the same injury, but three different times. It gets depressing, frustrating and everything else."

Byrd brings size to the backcourt. He's not as aggressive as Branden Dawson, a 6-6 sophomore-to-be, but he could end up being similar to former Purdue star Robbie Hummel, a great shooter and decent defender. Of course, that would be the best-case scenario. Byrd has a lot of hype to live up to, that much is true. If he can stay healthy, expect to see him knock down plenty of 3-pointers this winter and spring.

Adam Biggers has followed NCAA basketball for over 20 years, specifically the Michigan State Spartans. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

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