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Tag:Tom Izzo
Posted on: January 4, 2012 9:30 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 9:35 am
 

Izzo's team displays more mental toughness in win

By Jeff Goodman

It's difficult for Tom Izzo to hide his emotions and thoughts, which is why it was easy to digest that Michigan State's coach wasn't having much fun with his group last season. 

"I slept with both eyes open," Izzo joked following the Spartans win at Wisconsin last night. "Now I only sleep with one open." 

Izzo likes this team. Really likes these guys. 

On paper, it's not an intimidating bunch. If it was, let's face it: One-year Valpo transfer Brandon Wood -- no matter what he did in the Horizon - wouldn't be able to come to East Lansing and immediately move into the starting lineup. 

But these guys -- led by Draymond Green and Keith Appling - have displayed the one trait that's become an Izzo-ism: Toughness. 

Proof?

They have gone into The Kennel in Spokane and The Kohl Center and come away with victories. Sure, the 14-game winning streak that followed a pair of historic losses to start the season is impressive. 

But wins at Gonzaga and on the road against Wisconsin?  The 'Zags are 96-8 at The Kennel and Wisconsin had only lost eight Big Ten home games in the last 11 years.

That's mental toughness. 

"Damn right," Izzo said. 

"This was a big win for us," Izzo added after the controversial ending in which Ryan Evans' apparent 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game into a second overtime was disallowed after the refs determined time had expired. "We weren't great, but we're getting better every game in some aspect." 

Unbelievably, this was Izzo's first career victory against Bo Ryan in Madison. He was 0-for-8 prior to the win. 

"They've had our number," Izzo said. "We lost one in overtime, we were up 12 in another. Our football team lost and we even tried to use that this time. It was our turn. It wasn't pretty, but it was a big one for us." 

Michigan State has Iowa and Northwestern next and that means, barring an upset, the Spartans should have 16 wins by mid-January - which is yet another indication to never, ever discount an Izzo-coached team from the equation. 

"We've won 14 straight and I'm telling you, I don't even feel like we've been great," Izzo said. "I really think this team has a big upside." 

Izzo told me not to give up on this team after the loss to Duke way back on Nov. 15. 

Fifty days have passed -- and Michigan State hasn't lost since. 

Posted on: November 16, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: November 16, 2011 11:12 am
 

Tom Izzo upbeat, wouldn't change schedule



By Jeff Goodman


If there's one personality trait that is consistent with Tom Izzo, it's honestly - and being forthcoming.

If he hates his team, he'll say it.

That certainly isn't the case with this year's Michigan State Spartans.

"We're going to get better," he said an hour or so after losing to Duke last night at Madison Square Garden.

Izzo is the second-best coach in America - behind Coach K - so I'm going to believe him when he spews optimism about a young team that has opened with losses to top-ranked North Carolina and Duke.

He knew that the Spartans could well be 0-2, but he was all smiles when thinking about the week-long experience that began with the Carrier Classic and concluded with a record-setting loss to Coach K in Madison Square Garden.

"I'd sign up for the same schedule tomorrow," Izzo said.

It's because this is what Izzo envisioned years ago, to have his Michigan State program on par with the North Carolina's, Duke's and Kentucky's.

Izzo understands the margin for error is slim for this team, largely due to inexperience. That guys like Draymond Green, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne can't miss point-blank layups at the rim - as they did on Tuesday night - if the Spartans are to knock off ranked opponents.

That Keith Appling can't get into foul trouble - as he did on the aircraft carrier against the Tar Heels.

"We're going to be OK," Izzo said as he prepared to depart Madison Square Garden. "Don't give up on us."

As long as Izzo is in charge, no one should.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: November 12, 2011 12:32 pm
 

It's (past) time to ban midcourt logos

By Gary Parrish

CORONADO, Calif. -- The logos college basketball events put at midcourt are dangerous.

Don't believe me, ask Roy Williams.

"Let's stop putting those stupid logos on the floor where kids slip and slide around," Williams said. "Somebody is going to get hurt, and I've said that for years and years and years."

The North Carolina coach has indeed said that for years and years and years -- proof being that the above quote isn't from Friday night's Carrier Classic. That's actually a quote I found from 2008, a quote Williams delivered after two Tar Heels (Marcus Ginyard and Tyler Hansbrough) slipped on a midcourt logo during a game in Raleigh.

So coaches have literally been fighting this fight for years and years and years.

And yet nothing changes.

There was still a big logo at midcourt for the Carrier Classic ... and it nearly cost Michigan State's Branden Dawson. The 6-foot-6 freshman slipped on the logo while running and twisted his knee. Yes, he later returned. But it looked bad. And it could've been bad. And it's not something the NCAA should allow to continue.

"We've got to get rid of those logos in the middle of the court," Michigan State's Tom Izzo said late Friday. "We can put logos other places. I'll wear logos to support the people who sponsor us. They can paint me. But we have to get rid of the logos for the safety of the players."

Photo: AP
Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 11:59 am
 

Video: 10 questions with Tom Izzo



Jeff Goodman sat down with Michigan State hoops coach Tom Izzo to preview the Carrier Classic and to discuss several topics including the benefits of the Big Ten expanding, his $1 million contribution to the program and more.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 10, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics


By Matt Norlander

Spartans fans probably thought the best gift coach Izzo could have given to the program -- outside of all those Final Fours and a national title -- was passing up the Cleveland Cavs job in 2010.

But Izzo has done them better, in a very different, very tangible way. He and his wife have donated a jaw-dropping $1 million to the university. This kind of gift is commonplace amongst lofty boosters who like to show their roll without hesitation. But a coach? Michigan State is calling the donation unlike any of its kind from a head coach to an athletics department, perhaps in American collegiate sports history. He has essentially given the university a huge chunk of his paycheck back.

My question: Is this tax deductible?

“We’ve been blessed to be a part of the Michigan State family for nearly 30 years,” Izzo said in a statement. “Jud Heathcote taught me long ago that the only good deal was one that benefits both parties, and that perfectly describes my relationship with Michigan State University. My wife Lupe and I, along with our children Raquel and Steven, have dedicated our lives to this University, because we believe in intercollegiate athletics and the positive role it plays in so many lives. The Spartans students are our passion, our life’s work. We’ve raised a family here and become entrenched in the mission of the University. And in return, we’ve received so much more than we’ve given. With these blessings, we felt it was time to make a financial contribution.

The 56-year-old Izzo (seen above with Racquel, left, Lupe, and Sparty during 2010's Midnight Madness), has a 383-161 record at Michigan State and has won six Big Ten championships, which matches his six Final Fours. Yet basketball isn't receiving the lion's share of this unique act of coaching charity. Izzo's donating a big portion -- the largest portion -- of the money to football.

“Supporting the football team was an easy decision," Izzo said. "Coach Dantonio is a man of character, building a championship program. But what makes football special is that it truly benefits everyone across the university. Spearheaded by football’s success, there is great momentum throughout all programs.”

With such a big sum given, there's room to spread the wealth to every athletic program at the university, plus scholarships endowments will be included. Even the marching band will feel some cheddar pushed into their back pockets.

“By making a financial contribution to the football program, the Izzo family is not only benefitting all 25 sports, but the entire university," AD Mark Hollis said. "Football games are more than just athletic competition, they are a gathering place for the University community. And while each sport uses football and its success as a recruiting tool, the different colleges across our great campus use football games to enhance their own missions within the framework of Team MSU."

How about this completely outsider, uninformed hypothesis, though: I wonder if Izzo's actions signal some sort of odd first step toward him leaving the program. I'm not saying it's happening at the end of this year, or the next, but what moves a man to do something like this if he isn't looking back at his time and beginning to reflect on that? Izzo's become MSU basketball, and sure he's only 56, but is it possible he's thinking about putting his final fingerprints on the school as an active coach in the next five years?

I'd love to be wrong, because college basketball needs coaches like Tom Izzo to stick around for as long as they bring his breed of energy and enthusiasm to the sport.

Unbelievable Photo: AP

Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Delvon Roe sheds plenty of tears, has no regrets

By Jeff Goodman

Delvon Roe cried in his 90-meeting meeting with Tom Izzo yesterday morning. Then he bawled when he informed his teammates in the locker room. Then came the news conference to let the local media know his Michigan State career was over.

He shed more tears.

If you're a college basketball fan - whether it be Izzo, a supposed-objective media member or even a diehard Michigan fan - you've got to feel for Roe.

He just couldn't do it again.

Roe was a shell of himself, ever since Dec. 6, 2007 - the day he messed up his knee and was told he'd need microfracture surgery.

"I just couldn't do it any more," Roe said. "I have a daughter now and I want to be able to play with her when I get older."

Roe has done it for the past three years, but this one was different. Usually, the there was some explosiveness at the outset of the season and the pain wasn't quite so bad.

But after a lingering ankle injury turned into the same old knee pain - which resulted having his right knee drained on Saturday - Roe couldn't imagine going through it again.

"It just wasn't fun anymore," he admitted.

Roe had contemplated the decision for much of the past month, but hadn't discussed it with anyone outside of his family and a couple of his closest teammates.

Then he texted Izzo on Thursday night and asked him if he could meet Friday morning.

That's when he delivered the news.

"He had no idea," Roe said. "We broke down and did a lot of crying."

Then Roe kept a scheduled dentist appointment before telling the entire team around 2:30.

"That was the toughest thing I've ever had to do," Roe said. "Most of the players cried with me."

Then Roe went out and did what has been the custom in his career: He watched practice from the sidelines alongside the team trainer.

"It was hard," he said. "A different kind of hard. But it was a spriited practice."

The news conference followed at 4:30 and then it was off to perform in a school play - which has been Roe's newest endeavor. Roe recently made his movie debut in the film AWOL. He didn't want to confirm that he had accepted the lead role of the soon-to-be-filmed movie "Gametime", but he didn't deny it, either. 

"But that isn't why I gave us basketball. It had no bearing," Roe wanted to make clear. "It came down to where I knew I wasn't going to be a pro. The knees just weren't going to get better."

Roe said he has no regrets. He started for a pair of Final Four teams and played in the national title game.

Sure, he would have loved for the nation to see the "old" Delvon Roe, the one that I saw back in the summer that dominated each and every big man due to his athleticism and relentless pursuit of the ball.

But he's at peace with his decision now.

For his sake and for that of his two-month-old daughter, Destinie.

"A lot of people think it's a sad day," Roe said. "It is to an extent, but at the same time, I think my life is only beginning."

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: July 9, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 2:54 pm
 

2011 Recruiting Trip: Not a single regret

By Jeff Goodman

I’ll admit. I was regretting my decision for a while there.

I was the new guy at CBSSports.com, needing to prove my worth -- so I wanted to come up with innovative new ideas to the best bosses in America, Mark Swanson and Craig Stanke (kissing you-know-what can never hurt).

So, on my first official day with the company, I proposed a unique idea for beginning the summer recruiting period. One of us traveling with a high-major coach, living the life, flying on private planes -- while the other slums it for a few days in July on the recruiting trail with an anonymous low-major guy.

I opted to take one for the team -- and handed Parrish a plum opportunity, one that every writer in America would yearn to experience. Follow a guy like Michigan State’s Tom Izzo for 96 hours or so, everywhere he went.

My choice was UT-Pan American’s Ryan Marks, who had won a half-dozen games in each of his two seasons as the head man in the Division 1 ranks. A chubby (I’m sorry, Ryan) 40-year-old single man who coaches about 10 minutes from the Mexico border.

As the days drew near to the start of the July recruiting period, I started to wonder whether I’d made a mistake. Parrish would be sitting watching the elite high school players, schmoozing all the high-major coaches and even seeing many of the best returning college basketball players at the LeBron James Skills Academy.

On the flip side, I’d be watching a bunch of fringe Division 1 players and hanging with a variety of Division 2, junior college and low-major coaches.

Maybe I’d made a mistake. I mean, I’d get a lot more done talking to heavy hitters like Coach K, Roy and kids like Jared Sullinger in Akron.

But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

More on Recruiting

I saw the “other” side of college basketball, without the glitz and the glamour -- the guys who truly do it for the love of the game and the kids who play for the right reasons.

I’m not saying that Izzo, Coach K and Roy Williams don’t love what they're doing, but this is different.

Many of these guys struggle to make ends meet, move from spot to spot in an effort to remain in college basketball coaching.

It was fun -- and enlightening.

They accepted me as if I was one of their own.

Lamar coach Pat Knight wasn’t the only one to jab me for finally “roughing it” when he saw me at the junior college event on Friday. That was a common theme among the low and mid-major guys.

I also heard plenty of “What the hell were you thinkings?” throughout the three-day trek that took Marks and me from Indianapolis to Chicago to Milwaukee, then back to Chicago and finally to St. Louis.

I spent two nights on the pull-out couch of Marks’ mother in her downtown Chicago condo, where she honestly treated me like her son. She spoke glowingly about her 95-year-old husband, who passed away months ago, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes.

She showed me picture of her son, who I barely knew before the trip -- and now can say with conviction is one of the best human beings I’ve ever been around.

This is a guy who reaches into his own pocket and pays for his assistant coaches flights the entire month of July. The $10 a day for food doesn’t quite cut it, so Marks helps on that end as well.

When he got the job two years ago, the interim athletic director told him he’d get to put a decent percentage of the money the team earned playing “money games” against big-time teams back into the basketball program.

However, current AD Chris King, who Marks raved about for a good portion of the trip, told him that after doing more research on the financial situation of the athletic department, that wouldn’t be possible.

Marks never complained once.

"That’s life," he said. "I understand."

"You won’t find a better guy," UT-Pan American assistant Nick Bennett told me while we were sitting in Milwaukee on Thursday.

If I had a nickel for each time I heard that line, well, Marks wouldn’t have been sharing a room on Friday night at the Drury Inn with Andre Cook -- the guy who replaced him at Division II St. Edward’s.

We talked about just about everything on our trip, from family to work to relationships. We even shared string cheese, a snack preference of a guy who somehow maintains his physique despite only putting down one meal per day.

Now I can say I’ve stayed in a Drury Inn, a place where I saw two guys come down the elevator at 8 a.m. with open beers in each hand.

That I’ve ridden in a Sol, one of the most hideous-looking vehicles I’ve ever laid eyes on.

And that I’ve lived the life of one of the best coaches in America. 





Posted on: July 9, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 11:27 am
 

2011 recruiting trip: Done with Izzo, in ATL

By Gary Parrish

ATLANTA -- I ended my shadowing of Michigan State's Tom Izzo late Friday, then took a flight south so I could attend an event in Atlanta today and tomorrow before heading to South Carolina for the Nike Peach Jam. Far as experiences go, the past three days could not have been better. Izzo was the perfect host, and though the time spent in gyms was worthwhile, the best parts of the trip came during conversations at breakfast, lunch or dinner, in cars, vans or planes.

When you spend 15 hours a day with somebody you tend to talk about everything.

More on Recruiting
So we talked about everything.

And what I found most interesting is that while the job of a high-major coach has plenty of perks -- like weekly paychecks that eclipse most people's annual earnings -- it does require men (not just Izzo, all men) to sacrifice something personally. I guess I've known this for a while, and I can relate it to my own life, too. But it was magnified during this trip while I listened to Izzo take calls from all sorts of people, including his teenage son.

Obviously, I couldn't hear what was said on the other end of the phone. But when I heard Izzo one time say "in just a few days," I knew what was just asked. The question: When are you coming home?

"It's hard," Izzo later told me. "You always feel guilty."

And that's the struggle. Success in this sport requires tremendous focus and a work ethic that borders on stupid. Most coaches have wives and children who barely see them. The kids are in class till 3:30 or so in the afternoon during the school year, and the coaches don't get home till after 7 on good days. Then comes summer and the kids are out of school, but the coaches are on the road most of July, and it's not a stretch to suggest that a hard-working coach will see a 17-year-old recruit he'll never sign more than he sees or talks to his own son or daughter. That's just sort of the life these guys sign up for.

Again, they make lots of money.

You'd probably trade jobs with any of them.

But it's clearly not the simplest way to get really wealthy.

(For more of our college basketball recruiting road trip, click here.)
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com