MSU Basketball: Kenny Kaminski coming into a new role

EAST LANSING — Just a few weeks ago, Michigan State redshirt freshman Kenny Kaminski had to worry about whether or not he would suite up for games let alone contribute on the floor for the Spartans.

Kaminski has been suspended on two separate occasions this season for academic-related issues according to Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. The first suspension caused him to miss two of the Spartans’ exhibition games and the season opener vs. McNeese State. The 6-foot-8 forward from Medina, Ohio, was suspended indefinitely for the second time in early December and missed MSU’s victories over Oakland, North Florida and Texas.

Kenny Kaminski

Kenny Kaminski

Luckily for Kaminski, while 2013 might not have went the way he had hoped, he was able to end the year on a high note. In Michigan State’s last game of 2013, against Penn State, Kaminski came off the bench in the first half and helped revive a Spartans team that was struggling to keep pace with the Nittany Lions.

With just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half, and Michigan State trailing Penn State 19-11, Kaminski knocked down two 3-pointers and recorded a steal in less than two minutes. That stretch was pivotal for the Spartans as they were able to get in a rhythm offensively and dig themselves out of the hole that they had placed themselves in early in the game by not executing offensively.

“Kenny Kaminski came off the bench and gave us a great lift,” Michigan State junior forward Branden Dawson said after Thursday’s practice.

While he’s still learning the college game and learning what it takes on and off the floor to make an impact, Kaminski does add another shooter to Izzo’s young bench. And going forward, that can do wonders for a team like MSU who struggles putting its foot on the gas from the opening jump.

“Any time a three goes in, no matter where you are, when a three goes in, in an arena, there’s energy,” Izzo said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s only one more point, but for some reason — the dunk is the same as a layup but it creates energy — those two plays in basketball, for some reason, create major energy.

“Kenny did (bring energy) by making some shots, and it kind of picked everybody else up because we weren’t making many shots. I wouldn’t call him an energy guy yet, but I think he has the potential to be.”