East Lansing, MI
The #2 Michigan State Spartans are 25-5 (12-5) are hitting their stride. In fact Izzo admitted this week, that he feels very good about his team even declaring, “Let’s make a run.” So in this rose colored prism of a team led by seniors, full of great players and young men a real danger of peaking too soon?
“I think it’s the end of the year. I don’t know. We are if our players don’t handle it. We are if our coaches don’t handle it, but then again, what’s the alternative. I don’t think so. I think that it all depends on the maturity of a couple different people. One is the staff. How will they handle it? Two is the seniors. How will they handle it? Now, we know the fans are going to handle it probably differently than those. That’s just understandable. I remember even around here, it wasn’t that long ago that everything was wrong with us. It flips.”
Izzo reflected on his friend and former MSU head football coach Nick Saban’s team from early this last football season. Prior to beating the Spartans on his way to another national title, many people wrote the Crimson Tide off.
“I remember Nick Saban saying that. I saw some of his interviews during the year. It’s just the nature of the beast. Now, it’s the nature of the social media. It’s the nature of what we have to deal with. That’s why I can’t, I’ll never be able to tell you the importance of the Denzel’s of the world. That’s why I can’t, I’ll never be able to tell you the importance of the Denzel’s of the world. I mean, they’re just. It’s just the way it is. You have to have that. Coaches are important because we’re the parents. We’re the ones that talk. … But if working people don’t do what they’re supposed to do, a coach can preach all day and that’s what I love about this team right now.”
So what is the mindset of Izzo’s team right now? “Everybody’s focused in what they need to be focused in on. But, that can change now. That can change with an article. That can change with the social media. It can change with people. It’s our job to keep them grounded and that’s why sometimes it’s, if a coach is going off or panicking or whatever … there’s probably a reason. There’s always a reason and it’s not usually one thing. They’re saying, as we say ‘Are you trending up? Or are we trending down?’ You know, and if I see a little trend down, there’s going to be, somebody is going to be held accountable for that and if I see a trending up, I’m going to make sure somebody isn’t getting full of that. So it’s a fun time but it is an exciting time but I do talk to a lot of people that are in this time. I will talk to my AD. I will talk to my football coach. I mean, I just try to figure out how to keep everybody focused and this is so different than four, five years ago. I mean, it really is. … But you know, like everybody says, you’ve got to adjust with the times and maybe sometimes I do a decent job, sometimes a poor job. Right now, I think I know what we need and I’m going to do my job accordingly.”
If Izzo has proven anything over the years, it’s that he knows how to drive the ship. A national title, 18 straight NCAA tournaments, 16 NBA draft picks, eight national coach of the year honors, seven Final Fours and seven Big Ten titles proves that.
The Spartans will tip off against Ohio State Saturday at 12 PM Saturday. That game can be seen on ESPN.