Embed from Getty Images If there has ever been any doubt about Tom Izzo’s legacy they need to be silenced. The Michigan State Spartans head coach showed why he is one of the truly elite NCAA basketball coaches. Guiding the Spartans to another Final Four.
If Izzo can help his teams quest to win a second national championship, that would help the Spartans begin to separate themselves from other programs. In Izzo’s 24 years in East Lansing, his Spartan teams have reached eight Final Fours.
With one National Championship in 2000 under his belt getting that second national title is what drives Izzo. Only 15 coaches in the history of college basketball have won more than one. A rather select group.
Taking a Michigan State team that had more than it’s fair share of injuries, Izzo did a masterful job getting his team to be crowned Big Ten co-champions as well as to the Final Four.
“I’ll disclose this one thing,” Izzo said Monday. “I’m going to try to win this time. I don’t know if I’ve done a good job of that. … But I’m looking at sometimes, even as a coach, you’re just happy to be there, and sometimes I’m trying to look at what can I do better than I did? We had a late, late-night meeting with my staff, and we’ll have another one in a little while because I told them, because a couple of them have been with me more than a couple of those Final Fours, let’s look at what we did. Let’s look at some other programs.”
Not very coaches can say they have won as much or as often as Izzo does. Only four coaches in college basketball history have been to more Final Fours than Izzo Mike Krzyzewski, John Wooden, Dean Smith and Roy Williams all big time head coaches.
Tom Izzo, is a hall of fame coach. He has shown time and time again why he is so good. What he has done this season has been nothing short of spectacular.
Embed from Getty Images Tom Izzo somehow managed to rally his Spartans basketball team. Losing at home to Michigan things looked bleak for the Green and White. Izzo said “We had a character check at halftime.”
“I asked the team if they wanted to pack it in or play for a championship.” In the second half Izzo would get his answer. Spartans all-everything team leader Cassius Winston would spearhead the Michigan State turn around. Great players, elevate their play in tough times. Winston is that guy for his team.
Winston, was able to overcome a rough first half shooting to score 23 points along with 7 assists. It put the Spartans on a 25-4 run. The Wolverines were unable to regain any momentum. The Spartans would not look back.
The win earned the Michigan State basketball team a share of the Big Ten title with Purdue. It also secured a No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament next week in Chicago.
“I am proud of my guys, they figured it out.” Izzo beamed at a post game press conference. After the performance last night Izzo has every right to be proud of his team.
For the Michigan Wolverines the loss was crippling. Michigan who looked like a powerhouse early in the season, controlled the first half. When the Spartans started heating up in the second half Michigan had no answers. The Wolverines seem to pack it in. It was embarrassing to watch.
What is worse, was no in-game adjustments were made by the Wolverines coaching staff. Michigan suffered a total and complete implosion. Head coach John Beilein failed his team.
Thanks in large part to the Big Ten’s best coach, Michigan State did not fold, did not buckle. When the going got tough, the Spartans got going. Earning the co-championship.
This has a familiar ring to it. This is Michigan State’s 9th Big Ten title under Tom Izzo. There is no undervaluing what Izzo has done during his time in East Lansing. He has built a powerhouse.
Something the Michigan Wolverines can only dream of doing.
Embed from Getty Images Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo said he is not worried about the Big Ten title. He is more concerned with how his team will play in their next game. Given the up and down Spartans season, it is a just concern.
Michigan State who looked so good and so complete last Sunday when they beat rival Michigan looked the complete opposite in the second in season loss to the Indiana Hoosiers.
Michigan State was in total control of winning the Big Ten outright only to be upset again by the Hoosiers. Michigan State now sits one full game behind the Purdue Boilermakers who steamrolled Ohio State.
Michigan State is currently tied with Michigan for second place. Michigan plays at Maryland, Sunday afternoon. Of the two schools Purdue has a much easier path to the Big Ten title, as they have both Minnesota and Northwestern left to play.
Michigan will rematch Michigan State March 9. “We are not going to worry about this team or that team. Who can help us who can’t help us” Izzo said.
That is the correct thought process the Spartans need. Focus on the next game. Focus on what you can control. Another Indiana performance could sink Michigan State’s season. They would be faced with an uphill battle in the Big Ten Tournament as well as a mid-lower seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
I can not say injuries have caught up to the Spartans. They rallied and won three games in a row after three starters went down. It is possible Michigan State has lost a fourth player when Kyle Ahrens went down with an ankle injury and his status is up in the air.
In sports no team cares about injuries. They see Michigan State on the front of the jersey and understand they are playing a team that usually is in the mix for best in the conference. So there is a bullseye on them.
Izzo will not let his players feel sorry for themselves. They will have to rally together one more time if they want the ending they have dreamed about.
Embed from Getty Images Tom Izzo and his Spartan basketball team invaded Ann Arbor and promptly handed the Michigan Wolverines a home loss. Izzo was masterful in his play calling. Michigan State was clearly the better team Sunday.
With only three games left in the regular season, 10th ranked Michigan State laid claim to the Big Ten’s top spot. Handing 7th ranked Michigan a 77-70 loss. The win ended a three game losing streak to the Wolverines.
Michigan State was locked in from the opening tip. With two of the teams most productive as well as consistent players sidelined with injuries. The Spartans did not back down. Tom Izzo once again showed why is not only one of the Big Ten’s best coaches. But one of the best in the country.
The biggest take away for the Spartans is they got a game in which everyone chipped in. The Spartans had leaned heavily on Nick Ward (who’s left hand is currently in a brace) as well as Joshua Langford (who was on a scooter to protect his left foot from more damage.)
After the game Michigan State players used the words “Dialed in” to describe the afternoon’s upset of their in-state rival. The Spartans defense was so good. Forcing Michigan into three point tries.
Michigan threw up three after three after three yet hardly made any. Meanwhile the Spartans grabbed rebound after rebound and converted them into points.
The two teams will get another shot at each other. In less than two weeks Michigan State will play the part of the host in East Lansing. That March 9 game will be huge. Mix in the fact that Purdue is hanging around and it makes every game important.
Michigan will want revenge. Michigan State will want a top seeding in the Big Ten Tournament with their eyes on the NCAA Tournament. It should be another good game.
It was perhaps the biggest win of the season for the Spartans. Who after a three game losing streak is suddenly red hot. Perhaps Michigan State wanted to win for two injured teammates. They did. Did anyone expect less from a Tom Izzo lead team?
Embed from Getty Images Back- to- back losses to Purdue and Indiana has left the Spartans searching for answers. Give head coach Tom Izzo credit. After Saturday’s loss at home to Indiana his team was not frustrated. They were looking for answers.
Michigan State started the 2018-19 season with a bang. Winning 13 straight and starting 9-0 in the Big Ten made the Spartans look like they would cruse through the season. Then the wheels came off a bit.
First things first. There is plenty of time for the Spartans to get back on track. There is not reason to hit the panic button yet. It is rare an Izzo coached team is outplayed. Yet that is what happened last week. Twice.
Given the roster and talent there is no reason to think this will be a prolonged losing streak. But for the Spartans it all went wrong at the same time. Poor shooting, rebounding as well as defensive issues all hit at the same time.
Now with a few days to recover it will be interesting to see how Michigan State responds tonight when they play at Illinois. When things go wrong no game is a given.
Nothing drives Tom Izzo crazy like his team rebounding poorly. He preaches rebounds all the time. Yet the Spartans last week were woeful in the rebound department. That must change.
During the course of a season shooters go hot and cold. That is to be expected. But the defense has been equally as bad as the rebounding. There is no masking that. Like you can a shooter in a slump.
While Illinois does not rebound well the Spartans next foe after does. Minnesota features the top rebounder in the conference in forward Jordan Murphy. The Golden Gophers as a team lead the Big Ten in team rebounds.
There is work to be done for sure. As for tonight’s game, Illinois is forcing nearly 17 turnovers per game while Michigan State team that’s second-to-last in the conference in turnover margin. So the work must be done quickly. Sure there will be in-game adjustments.
The Big Ten has some very talented teams and the season is and will continue to be a grind. I have little doubt Tom Izzo will have his team playing more consistent.