When you step back and think about everything that Michigan State accomplished this season, it is simply incredible. Not only did they lose Delvon Roe, who retired early because of chronic knee problems, but Kalin Lucas graduated, Korie Lucious moved on, and Durrell Summers moved on as well. Because of all those losses and the numerous questions surrounding the team, Sparty was not even ranked in the Top 25. Then after losing their first two games of the season against North Carolina and Duke, the Spartans weren’t even on the map in the college hoops landscape.
However, trough all the adversity that Michigan State sustained, not only did they win a share of the Big Ten Championship and win the conference championship outright, but they have captured a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Tom Izzo has done one of his best coaching jobs since he arrived in East Lansing, but the goals for the Spartans are bigger than Big Ten Titles. Izzo wants to cap off a dream season with a championship and with him on the sidelines and a number one seed in the West, Sparty has a great chance. Tom Izzo joined WXYT in Detroit with Stoney and Bill to talk about the loss to Ohio State in the regular season and how nice it was to get redemption yesterday, on the strength of the Big Ten, what he thinks of Michigan State’s draw, and Draymond Green’s Michigan State legacy.
On the loss against Ohio State in the regular season and how nice it was to get redemption following that loss:
“I would’ve rather won both. You’ve got to remember last week because nobody understood what a big deal it was, I don’t like making it like life and death and I’m not, but it was an incredible day for a lot of reasons. When you’re playing at home in front of all your former players and fans that helped you get where you are you want to win and that’s what makes it so devastating. At the same time you add into that the chance to win the Big Ten outright and then you add into that Branden Dawson and that’s one hell of a day guys. A lot of things were tough but I think it just shows the resiliency. We started off the season losing two to North Carolina and Duke and at the end of the season losing two to Indiana and Ohio State and this team has still bounced back and probably played some of our best basketball if you look at all three games in that tournament.”
On the strength of the conference:
“Well when you have three teams in Ohio State and Michigan that tie for it and you have Purdue, Wisconsin, and everybody forgets Northwestern and Minnesota and Illinois were all ranked at one time so I think the strength of the conference has been incredible. Then we went and played some of those smaller schools like Carolina and Duke and then went out to Gonzaga and I don’t know anyone who goes on campus, we played Florida State at home, Lehigh and some other teams that made the tournament so our strength of schedule is a landslide number one. Part of that is the league was so good and part of that is we played some good non-conference but I think there are four or five Big Ten teams that have a shot to make a serious run just because of what they’ve been through during the year.”
What he makes of the draw Michigan State got:
“I think the biggest problem with our bracket and I don’t think there’s any problem, I mean I don’t think any is easier than any other one but it comes down to matchups guys. We have now lost two of our best athletes, Delvon Roe at 6-7 and of course Branden Dawson at 6-6, two of our best defensive athletes and rebounding athletes. Our bracket seems to be loaded with the most athletic teams if you look at Memphis, Marquette, Missouri, Louisville, and I’m not saying they are any better or worse than any teams but they are smaller and athletic and really get after it. That’s where you need the guy we need so I don’t know how those matchups will end up and that’s the only part that is a little concerning. I feel like we got a great bracket and a little tough trip if we win Friday and Sunday, you have a quick turnaround to get out to Phoenix but hey this team has been through adversity a little bit and happen to make adjustments all year. I think the bracket is great and excited to be a one seed and I’m excited to be in the tournament.”
On the legacy of Draymond Green:
“That’s one of the things that I try to tell players every year. You want to be good, you want to be great, you want to leave a footprint, and you want to do something that maybe somebody else hasn’t done. That’s another reason that an outright Big Ten Championship is so important. There’s only been like six in the history of the school. I think Mateen (Cleaves) came up with a better phrase. When guys like that come back they all take about before you sit at our table there are things you have to accomplish. One of them of course was winning the Big Ten. Now they have accomplished something that some of those people didn’t in the Big Ten tournament. Getting a one seed is a step in the right direction. Now the last thing to be at the head seat of that table you’ve got to win a National Championship. Draymond Green and Austin Thornton have earned the right to be talked about with some of the great teams in Michigan State history and they will be sitting at that table with those guys. How much they move up to the head of that table will be determined in the next three weeks but I’m really proud of them, I’m excited you can include them with some of those great teams, and it’s been earned, not given.”