Exclusive: Tom Izzo, Dealing with the Abrupt End to the Season

Hondo S. Carpenter

East Lansing, MI—In an exclusive interview with Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, we talked about the abrupt end to the season. I asked him how he is dealing with it.

"Well, I can deal with them because you are always going to wonder. Jud Heathcote told me this, I have been so fortunate to go to the number of final fours that we have, big ten championships like we have, but, I look at Gene Keady as an example he has been to an elite eight. A couple of sweet six-teens, never to a final four, he is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and I look at it as I get another chance, it might not ever happen again. But, I get another chance to coach some players. It is the Cassius' and the Josh's and the Connor Georges, it's guys like that, Kyle Ahrens, that you've got to look at and say, 'they're done.' They may never play again."

Izzo went on to say, "According to Magic, Steve Smith, according to the pros I've had, when you cut that cord, it is forever. I try to tell my guys, don't wish your way out of high school. You never get to go back to high school. Don't wish your way out of college; you never go back to be a college student. You may go back to get more education, but you don't get the four years of being a college student. There are not a lot of things in life that have a definitive ending."

Izzo elaborated, "Playing careers are one of them. So, even though my year seems detrimental because I said, 'man is this is a team that could have won a final four, could have won a national championship,' and I answered yes, those don't come around, Cassius Winston's don't come around every year. It has been 20 years since the assist record has been broken, and that was with Mateen Cleaves, and before that, it was 21 years with Magic Johnson. These things don't happen every year, but I look at it as far as I go, I can get it done. As far as Cassius and the seniors go, and the seniors around the country, I just feel for them because they don't get a chance even to finish. There will be a lot of what if's, or could we have, or wishes. I hate those because if you go and get beat, you can say, hey, you had your chance. So, I don't feel sorry for my staff or me because I get another chance, at least as of today. My players and the players around the country, I think that was a tough ending and yet I'm so happy you said, 'Let's not maximize it to the point of life and death' but to a kid whose his whole first 22 years of existence into something like that, it is very difficult for them and yet maybe that is why we are going through this, it is a lesson we all have to learn, and we have to figure out a way to move forward, and that is what we are trying to do."

Keep your computer tuned to Spartan Nation for more of our exclusive interview with Tom Izzo all week.

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