Michigan State is greatful that guard Durrell Summers woke up from a long stretch of slumbering through the Big Ten season just in time to put up some of his best performances in the NCAA tournament.
Summers has taken his share of criticism from the media, some deservedly so for his lack of production in the regular season, but not any more.
You could call him "Mr. March" as he seems to enjoy more than most the pressure of performing under the white hot glare of the national stage of the NCAA tourney.
Summers stepped up to give MSU a 19-point, seven rebound, four assist performance to hold off the giant killing Northern Iowa Panthers and get MSU one win away from its sixth Final Four in 12 seasons, the nation's best mark if it happens.
Still, the 6-foot-5 junior from Detroit, downplayed his performance as he spoke about his three pointer that gave MSU a 49-47 lead that UNI could never match.
"I think my teammates had confidence in me, pretty much, if I feel it's a good look to take the shot. And I just felt it was a good look. I thought he was behind me a little. So I just let it go, and it went in," he said nonchalantly.
"And just on the play of the day, I think my teammates found me in the right spots and I was just able to make the shots and make aggressive plays."
Summers said Michigan State decided at halftime when they were down by seven, that if they were going to pound the ball inside and play from inside out.
"I think the second half, you know, it was just a team effort. Delvon (Roe), he came out with a big dunk, and that kind of got us going. And we realized we had to get the ball inside, just because we were taking a couple of ill-advised outside shots. And when you want to start off the second half with a good run, you want to go for the high-percentage shots."
As he spoke, Coach Tom Izzo marveled at the maturity and the basketball knowledge coming from his guard who didn't seem to be "into" the last part of the regular season.
"I mean Durrell," paused Izzo, "I thought that was a heck of a speech. I'm going to make sure that you guys send me a copy of that, because I'm sure there will be a couple times, hopefully still this year and for sure next year, when I'll have to replay that," he said.
"It has been fun to see him focus in, and I think everybody would agree, you know, he's made very few mistakes defensively. Gone up and got some good rebounds and made some big shots. Coming off screens harder. He has really grown."
Just in time for the Spartans to make a run and face Tennessee for a chance to get to the Final Four....again.