Spartans' Roe exceeds expectations

April, 5, 2009
DETROIT -- Michigan State coach Tom Izzo wasn't sure what to expect from freshman Delvon Roe this season.

Roe, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Euclid, Ohio, played in only one game as a senior at St. Edward High School before undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee in December 2007. Roe had surgery again in August 2008 after arriving in East Lansing.

"When you talk to NBA people, it's an injury that has really been the end to a lot of guys' careers," Izzo said. "Microfracture surgery is a serious injury. What he's done, he's almost become the poster child or medical miracle for that injury."

Roe was one of the top high school players in Ohio before hurting his knee. He was named the Cleveland Plain Dealer state player of the year as a junior. But Izzo wasn't sure he'd ever become the same player again.

"Delvon is potentially a very good player, but he's not always been great," Izzo said. "The guy missed 10, 11 months. He didn't touch a basketball for probably nine months. That's hard to do."

Roe is hitting his stride at the right time for the Spartans. He scored four points and grabbed eight rebounds in 21 minutes in Michigan State's 82-73 victory over Connecticut in Saturday night's national semifinals of the 2009 Final Four at Ford Field.

Roe scored 10 points in a 74-69 victory over USC in the second round of the Midwest Regional.

"He's had very, very little problems with it -- knock on wood," Izzo said. "The swelling and all the things that normally take place with that, he hasn't had. I give credit to him, our trainers, our doctors, his doctor back in Cleveland, they did a marvelous job. We stuck to it. When he could only practice every other day, we stuck to it. When he could only play 12 minutes a game, there were times when I wanted to play him more. But we pretty much stuck to the program that I was told."

Roe will have to play well again in Monday night's national championship game against North Carolina. Roe and center Goran Suton will battle All-American Tyler Hansbrough and forwards Deon Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Ed Davis in the paint.

Roe started 29 of MSU's 36 games this season. He averaged 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds and was named to the Big Ten's All-Freshman team.

"He's got a big heart," Izzo said. "He works hard. He's got a long ways to go yet. I think his best basketball is ahead of him. Spring, summer and fall, he'll get to finally work out, which he hasn't really been able to do."

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball



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