Hello Hondo.  What is your take on Keith Appling getting an invite to the USA under 19 team?  Ron

 

Hello to you Ron.  I am concerned and have talked with Izzo in the past about guys playing too much basketball.  We have seen in the past guys who played all summer and then had injury issues.  I think that these kids are playing too much.  There isn’t a time to get away from the game to heal.  He will get great coaching and play at a high level with a chance to represent his country.  I feel great for him and certainly think he should take advantage, I just worry about there being too much basketball.

 

Hondo, what are your thoughts on the new Valpo transfer Brandon Wood?  How much impact can a one year guy really have? Peter

 

Great question Peter and I think he can be a major impact player.  He is proven and he has the combination skills to play the one or the two.  He is a great kid with a super basketball IQ and Izzo needed him more than he needed Izzo.  What I mean is that he has a degree and he has one year left.  This (being part of MSU hoops) is the cherry on top of his collegiate career.  For Tom, he is a gift with nothing to lose.  Whatever he gives is all upside and it could be substantial.

 

Hondo, You called it on Izzo getting new staff.  Monty left immediately and DJS was in it for two head coaching jobs.  How big will the impact of new assistant Dane Fife be?  Marty

 

Marty, thanks for the props. I did call it and it happened just as I thought it would.  As far as Fife, this is unique.  Tom Izzo has wanted him for awhile.  He got his guy.  No doubt Fife is a great coach and he is well liked by the players.  His biggest impact that I want to see is off the court.  Assistants at this level have their biggest impact there.  They are the bridge between the coach and the players.  He is a counselor to the players, the coach and often times the assistants (especially in basketball) have the worst job in college sports.  What happens handling players off the court?  What happens when he disagrees with Izzo?  Will he speak up?  Will he toe the line?  No doubt Fife and Izzo are close; we’ll see how they do as the relationship has gone from recruiter (something Izzo never stopped with him since high school) to boss.

 

Hondo, does Draymond Green have the most to prove this season?  Sean 

 

Sean, I respectfully say:  NO!  Draymond has been to two Final Fours and played in a national title game.  If his career ended today he would have nothing left to prove.  I think Draymond Green has been a very good player.  He still has the potential to be great.  I would say that Tom Izzo has the most to prove this year.  Tom often cites how fans at Kentucky show up even for practices.  Those same fans frustrated him when they called for his buddy Tubby Smith to be canned.  MSU basketball pays him among the best in the nation.  The fans here have paid the reseating and done all they have been asked.  Last year based on expectation was not good.  Coach admitted that the team was, “Emotionally spent” after the season and I agree with him.  He also said that he loves “Turmoil” and he certainly got enough of it over the past few years.  There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame coach.  MSU has become elite in basketball and that means expectations.  I think he has to get the past behind him.  He has the assistant he has craved in Fife.  He got a gift in Wood and he has his roster.  I think there is more pressure on Izzo this year than any of the players.  Not from the sense that his job is in question because it isn’t and shouldn’t be.  It is from a perception standpoint.  He complained about his schedule, but it is still brutal and it hasn’t even been fully revealed.  2012, good or bad, is about Izzo in my opinion.  Elite programs have elite expectations and after a less than stellar campaign the pressure only intensifies.

 

Hondo how do you think Alex Gauna will play this year?  Anthony

 

Anthony, I said last year when the decision was made to red shirt Gauna that I disagreed with it. At the end of the year (with the blessing of 20/20 hindsight) Izzo said he would have not done it had he known how the season would unfold.  Alex is a great kid.  Sherman didn’t develop like they wanted and he is gone.  Nix hasn’t either.  Herzog didn’t and left also like Sherman.  I think there is a lot to prove with Gauna.  Of all the Spartans this season, Gauna is one to keep your eye on.  Both from him personally and how this staff develops him.

 

Hondo, can the Spartans win the Big Ten in 2012? Madison

 

Madison I think they can.  Look at all this group had last year and disappointed.  They may not have all that they had last year, but you can’t count a TEAM out.  You can count individuals out, but not teams.  If this group responds from a chemistry standpoint, we know they have a Hall of Fame coach.  Tough?  For sure.  Impossible?  No.

 

Hey Hondo, who of the new freshman will have the biggest impact?  Justin

 

Justin, I think Travis Trice.  He plays great defense and when you watch him play he does what you have to have from a top flight point guard in that he not only makes the pass, he has it in the right spot every time.  Trice isn’t a good player.  He is a star.  This was a brilliant job of evaluating talent by Izzo and it will pay off immediately.

 

Hondo, I was at a tournament game and saw you talking with Ed Hightower.  It surprised me.  Do you like him and do you think he has an MSU bias against us?  Brent

 

Brent, I do like Ed.  Do I think he is demonstrative?  You bet I do.  I like that he has passion.  I don’t think he has a bias and the best way to prove that is every fan base thinks he hates them.  He is a good guy and although I certainly question some calls, I like him.  If you get a chance to talk to him off the court he is a very engaging person.

 

 

There you go folks.  A few weeks ago I started a weekly Q and A that appears on Saturday mornings for football and now I am going to do a basketball one on Friday’s.  If you want your question considered for next week email SpartanNationMail@yahoo.com and put basketball question in the subject line.