East Lansing, MI
#2 Michigan State 26-5 (13-5) has felt the love and adoration of fans and media around the globe as they head into the Big Ten Conference Tournament in Indianapolis. After losing the conference crown to Indians despite a better ranking and winning head to head, not winning the regular season gnaws at Tom Izzo.
So does the Spartan head man think a chance at winning the conference title crown takes on more importance perhaps this season? He does!
“Well yeah, I think that’s a fair statement. You’d like to redeem yourself, get kind of a second chance. We played well enough in all but two games, so if the team who won it only had two losses I’d feel differently. But we could have won those other three games and we could have lost them. There weren’t many games we won that we could have lost, but there’s three that we lost that we could have won, if that makes any sense, if you look at it analytically, statistically. Yeah, this is an exciting chance for us, because I like a chance on a year when the league is really good to win the Big Ten tournament. I’m sure Maryland wants to redeem itself. Iowa, who started out better than anybody, wants to do theirs, Indiana wants to finish the job, and Purdue has its own battle cries. We’ve all got them, but I think there’s a little more motivation when you haven’t won the regular season, yeah.”
So while not winning the Big Ten Conference tournament title won’t keep the Spartans out of the NCAA big dance, does Izzo still approach it with the intensity of one and done time? “It’s 100 percent one and done time.”
Known for his intensity, Izzo says that losing is losing and he can’t find a way to get comfort in it. So even though the season is not over with a loss in Indianapolis, for Izzo will it have the same feeling?
“It is to me, because this teaches you, and it is one and done in this particular, you play during the regular season, even in a tournament you play in, you can’t win a championship, but you play the third-place game. This truly is to me one and done time, and I think it’s really important that players, fans, and everybody understands why coaches are so anal and crazy about little things making a difference. It’s all pointed to this. I hate the fact; I’ve already explained why I’ve started this two weeks early this year. I hate the fact that we snap our fingers after the Big Ten tournament and say ‘Now the NCAA tournament, you lose you go home’; hang up your sneakers forever. I don’t think that’s fair of us. I think understanding how we gradually get into that is really important, and whether it’s going to work or not doesn’t matter, I would do the same thing again and I’m going to do the same thing year-in and year-out. I think players have to understand in this day and age of AAU ball where you lose at 2, you play at 6, you win at 8. That’s not real world, that’s Disneyland, brother, and we’ve got to start getting a little more understanding of what the real world is. There are consequences of not performing up to the standards that you need to perform at to advance.
The Spartans will be tipping off vs. Ohio State or Penn State. They have blown out both teams twice this season. The game tips off at 6:30PM and it can be seen on BTN.