KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kristin Haynie's eating habits would put most people under the care of a cardiologist.
At a time when obesity has become a national issue, Michigan State's versatile point guard downs thick chocolate milk shakes and constantly snacks between meals without putting on an ounce.
On an average day, she consumes at least 4,000 calories.
She's not a lazy glutton. Far from it, in fact. The 5-foot-8 senior has become a vocal, energetic leader for the Spartans and even had the school's second triple-double in a come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt on Sunday night to set up a matchup against Stanford on Tuesday for a spot in the Final Four.
It's just that her large intestine was removed when she was a kid, leaving her system unable to fully absorb most nutrients. So a couple years ago doctors decided that a higher-than-normal food intake was the only way to avoid serious fatigue.
The average calorie intake for an active young person is about 2,000 to 2,500 per day.
"I used to get really tired all the time," she said Monday. "Now I try to have at least 3,500 or 4,000 calories a day."
It was a problem doctors at first could not figure out. The Michigan native -- whose grandmother taught her the Spartan fight song when she was 4 years old -- began to feel fatigued as a freshman.
"My sophomore year I was drained all the time," she said.
Blood tests and other examinations failed to turn up anything. Then, almost as an afterthought, somebody mentioned to her doctor that her large intestine had been removed when she was 11 because of concern it could become cancerous.
Like magic, increased calorie intake did the trick. Now Haynie is not just a bundle of energy but has overcome natural shyness to become a leader of a Spartans team that has won a team-record 15 straight games and is just one victory away from its first Final Four.
"I think Kristin Haynie is one of the greatest stories in college basketball," said Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie. "The way she handles herself, her composure and her poise and the way she plays the complete game is what she's all about. She's always ready for the challenge at hand."
Haynie was named the MVP in the Big Ten tournament this year and for the season averaged 10.5 points, one of four double-figure scorers in Michigan State's balanced attack. She also had 160 assists and a team-record 105 steals.
"She doesn't post huge numbers," McCallie said. "But when you look at the whole spectrum of the numbers that she pulls, it's absolutely phenomenal.
"She's a very special kid. It's very special the effect she has on her team," McCallie said.
Altogether, she's quite a contrast to the weary, bashful kid who arrived as a freshman.
"She's a little fireball now. You can't shut her up sometimes," Michigan State forward Kelli Roehrig said with a smile. "It's just the way she is."
A little fireball?
"It's just Kristin. You can't describe her," Roehrig said. "She demands of us and I think that's the most important key."
There was a time when she had trouble demanding of herself.
"Growing up, I was a quiet girl, just very withdrawn," she said. "Now, I don't know what happened. As a point guard I need to talk more. I thought, 'I can't let my shyness affect my team.' So I'm a lot more vocal now. I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone."