East Lansing, MI
The #8 Spartans bring a 21-5 (8-5) record into their tilt with Wisconsin on Thursday night. There are a lot of great reasons for Spartan fans to be excited about this team, but what may shock fans is that you are the reason this team is fired up.
I have been critical over the years when warranted by a Breslin Center that has been lacking luster at times. This year I have not. The Spartan fans have given Izzo and his team back their home court advantage and Izzo is very appreciative of it.
“That’s funny you ask that question, because we’ve been sold out for a long time. For some reason this year, I don’t know if … I’ve had people mad at me because I’ve said the students gotta get better, the crowd’s gotta get better, and who am I to tell those people? Well, I’m your basketball coach, I’m a guy who knows what a difference they make, I’m a guy who knows what an impact they can have. I think this team has worked their tail off. We’re talented, but we’re not mega talented. We got a lot of very good players, not as many superstars. But I think this crowd this year has been superstars. I think the crowd this year have been superstars. It used to be we were one of the top five hardest places to play all the time. Kinda fell out of that a little bit, you know? It seems like we redeemed that when we needed them most. It’s almost like Zel and Matt, especially, Tum, those guys are the guys and the crowd has been that.”
Izzo went on to describe the Breslin crowd. “We’re the perfect fit for each other, the blue collar approach to things. I think the one thing that both are having some fun doing their job. When we lost those two home games, the crowd is 80 percent of the reason we had a chance to beat Nebraska. We didn’t play very well in those two games but the crowd kept us in one and we didn’t even let the crowd get involved in the other. But they’ve been phenomenal all year. I said Christmas, I thought it was the time after Christmas, the students weren’t here, this whole community rallied around these guys. It’s been much appreciated. You’re right, I say it often, which means unfortunately or fortunately, look at it however you want, it means that it did take a little bit. Because if it were at this level all the time, it wouldn’t be mentioned.”
Izzo credited Mark Dantonio and football for kicking the year off right. “I think there’s a fever around this community around this time. I think football starts it and we get it. We’re all trying how to be a championship organization. It’s not just the athletic department or the university, it’s everybody. I like the direction that we’re heading. I like the direction we’re heading in football. We’re not there yet. Right now Kansas has got it in basketball. But we’re not far behind. We’re gaining momentum.”
The Spartans contest with the Badgers tips off at 9PM and you can catch that game on ESPN.