When Montgomery left for NIU there was a long list of interested people that wanted to stand at Izzo’s side. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

 

Good morning Hondo.  There has been a lot of talk lately how Tom Izzo uses Duke as a benchmark for what he wants MSU basketball to be, so I am curious on your thoughts.  When Jeff Capel got fired from Oklahoma (a former Duke player for Coach K) Coach K moved his already packed staff with former players around to add him.  When Izzo had an opening he went and got a guy who had told him no to joining him twice and so had his siblings.  Is it that Izzo doesn’t have any former players who are good enough to coach at MSU?  Scott in Dansville

Scott, that is an interesting question.  Who Tom hires is his business, but it is something to look at.  Daimon Bethea is a former owner of a pro team and has coached. He currently is head of the entire basketball program for the country of Nigeria.  He also is a Utah Jazz executive who overseas all of China and the Asian Pacific geographical area.  I think he would have been a super addition and I know he would have given up everything to have the job.  I don’t think you can fault a man for doing what he wants with his own staff.  Dane Fife is a tough as nails type of guy and Izzo has craved him for years.  It is his staff, and although I find it interesting the point you brought up, it is Tom’s place to hire whom he pleases and I am confident that Fife will be a good addition.

 

Hondo, do you know of anyone else when Izzo was looking for an assistant who was interested?  I love the Fife hire, I just think it is cool to see how many people wanted to be at MSU and learn from the best.  Jamal

Former MSU point guard and longtime NBA player Eric Snow wanted the job.  I also know that former Pistons head coach and father of a former Spartan Michael Curry wanted the job.  Jimmy Boylen wanted the job at first.  That is considered a great job in college basketball and there were some prominent Spartan and non-Spartans that wanted to be by Coach Izzo’s side.

 

Hondo, how much of an impact can playing for team USA have on Keith Appling’s game this coming season?  Charlie

Charlie, that is a great question and I think it can be of great help.  Anyone who has watched Appling play the game recognizes his talent.  He has no lack of that.  Now, it is a matter of decision-making and that comes with time on the court.  There is an old adage by Roy Rogers that I love.  He used to say, “The best thing for a young horse is a wet saddle blanket.”  Literally meaning, he works and sweats and gets ridden.  The same can be said for players in any sport.  Sometimes no matter how talented a young player is, it just takes reps and playing time to learn in game situations.

 

Hondo, I was so sad to read your story about Austin Hatch and Russell Byrd being by his side.  I can’t get them both out of my thoughts.  Please pass on to the Byrd family our thoughts and prayers.  Kathy

The Byrd family not only lost great friends in Austin’s father and stepmother, but so much more their lives are intertwined.  When Austin comes out of his coma and starts to recover physically he will carry the emotional scars forever.  I would ask all the Spartan Nation to join me in keeping both Austin and the Byrd family in your prayers.  The Byrds are special people.

 

Thanks for all of the great comments and email for the Friday column.  If you aren’t aware, on Fridays I answer some of your email in a Q and A column about Spartan basketball.  If you have a MSU basketball question you would like answered send me an email at SpartanNationMail@yahoo.com and please put in the subject line Basketball question.