Hear the Conversation 21:58 – 12.5 mb mp3
“It was great to celebrate, and now it’s time to get back to work,” Spartans basketball coach Tom Izzo tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis when reflecting on his recent induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He says that sharing the honor with his mother was special.
Izzo has also been selected to receive the Dean Smith Award, given annually to an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values of the late North Carolina coaching great. The U.S. Basketball Writers Association will present Izzo with the award at a Spartans’ home game to be announced.
“Mike Krzyzewski called and said ‘this stands for what you want it to stand for. The other one is about wins and losses; this one is about integrity.’ It’s an honor and a thrill.”
On his 2016/17 team Izzo says “I’ve really got a fun team. I have a great group of freshmen. I’m starting to see that the culture we’ve built is starting to pay dividends. Superstars are coming in and conforming to the culture. The good players are coming in and doing that. I don’t know where it will take us; we have an incredible schedule early, but I really like this team.”
Izzo says he worries about too many fouls being called in today’s game.
“Everybody wants this freedom of movement so nobody can guard anybody anymore. I think the physical play should be taken out compared to the way it used be, but the touch fouls that we had last year” makes the games last too long. “The best players aren’t on the floor as much. If you get down to your second tier people, your product isn’t as good.”
Izzo talks about the challenges inherent in the “memory making” early season schedule that will see the Spartans travel 13,625 miles in 20 days and battle Arizona, Kentucky and Duke all before the end of November. And he laments some, too, about the current set up of the Big Ten schedule.