Now healthy, Spartans are ready to run

Adreian Payne and Gary Harris could run opponents out of the gym this season. Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- As I walked into Michigan State's practice over the weekend, the team didn’t look all that different than last season's unit, which won 27 games before bowing out to Duke in the NCAA tourney.

Four starters -- including Adreian Payne and Gary Harris, who opted to return after flirting with the NBA draft -- were on the court. Senior point guard Keith Appling is back. So too is junior wing Branden Dawson. The only significant loss is that of big man Derrick Nix.

But in terms of how the Spartans will play this season, and what they're capable of accomplishing, this team isn’t nearly the same.