Izzo sets tone for season with great practices

Author:
Publish date:

Izzo sets tone for season with great practices

Â
I admit that I haven’t had a day off in 23 months. I also acknowledge that with my job I spend countless hours at and traveling to live games. It isn’t a secret that I love MSU and now I have an even BIGGER confession. As much as I love MSU basketball, I love the MSU practices even more. Given an option (and luckily I get both) I would have to pick a practice over a game for several reasons.

Â

  1. Practice allows you to see a side of Tom Izzo that sadly every MSU fan misses at the Breslin Center or on TV. Is he firm? That does not change from the games, but what you miss by not being at practice is the fact that he is a teacher. I am convinced that even if someone hated basketball, it would be impossible for them to not love and understand the game after watching how he teaches a sport he obviously loves.
  2. The way that the Spartan staff interacts is so fluid that all three assistants can jump into a teaching point simultaneously and yet never overlap one another.
  3. Lets face it, in most sports the walk on or scout team is treated poorly, but not at an Izzo practice. The level of effort on the part of the scout team and the level of respect shown from the “scholarship” players is something that I can promise you does not exist in other programs and in other sports, yet it is here. They get as much coaching as the “stars” and that makes them better and with their improvement the “scholarship” guys get better.
  4. Izzo runs a program that to be frank, with his success would often be dictated by ego. Not here. I think Izzo is about the most unpretentious “celebrity coach” (and you know I know many) in sports and he allows his coaches to coach. It is a common experience to see him standing quietly as one of his coaches has stopped practice to teach. Watching all three of these assistants coach is really enjoyable and it makes it obvious why so many Izzoites have moved on to other jobs and have done well. Here they aren’t Tom’s towel boys they are coaches and he lets them.
  5. Izzo has them practice with a “game time” atmosphere. For example after 4 sprints, he sends them to the free throw line in order to practice their free throws when tired as the will be during the long Big Ten season.
  6.  I love sports. I hunger to learn as much about sports as I can. I think with the responsibility of my job that I have an obligation to be as much as I am allowed to be at in order to have a better understanding of what is going on. With that said I can tell you one of the MANY reasons that I have so much faith in Izzo is because I believe great practice makes a team perfect. Whether he is playing the role of cheerleader or dictator and make no mistake he plays both, he does not settle for mediocrity.Â

Â
Let me give you a great example of an MSU basketball practice. Izzo stops it to applaud a feat of one of his new players and when he finishes he immediately goes into a tirade about something he didn’t like. As soon as he finishes Jimmy Boylen jumps in as if he already knew Izzo was done to throw instruction and Dwayne and Mark are already on their second player to instruct, all of that in a matter of seconds and the game is back on.