East Lansing, MI – Early Monday morning, Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo found out he tested positive for COVID-19.
The 65-year old sat on a video call with reporters racking his brain, trying to figure out where he could have possibly gone wrong.
"I think I've been as diligent as anybody … it even tells you more how serious maybe the virus is," Izzo said. "I know for a fact that I wasn't at any big parties, didn't visit any frat houses or sororities. I've been just kind of sitting in my own house and going to work … I think we've gotta understand that it is serious and it's invisible."
He's followed state, federal, and CDC guidelines since the pandemic began and has been a huge proponent for wearing a mask – Izzo's recent diagnosis won't change that.
"I would say that I've been an advocate of wearing our masks and practicing social distancing. I'm still an advocate of that," said Izzo. "I don't that deters me in any way, shape, or form … this isn't to say that the protocols don't work either."
Dwayne Stephens, associate head coach, will run practices during Izzo's 10-day isolation period; it hasn't been easy because his father, Dwayne Stephens Sr., passed away on April 1 after testing positive for COVID-19.
"It's been very difficult for DJ because every day when we're talking about it with our players and everything, DJ's sitting there and I can't even imagine how hard it's been on him … we've done a great job of every time we come together as a team we mask up, everybody wears a mask. We have a meeting; we mask up," Izzo said. "We tried to follow everything. Right now, no players, no family have tested positive. Hopefully, that'll remain that way, and I'll be the only weak link in this group."
With the season set to tip-off on November 25, Izzo believes it's an opportunity for his coaches and players to grow without him around.
"It'll be good for DJ to get a feel for what it's like to run some people and order some people around," he said. "I think it's gonna be good for Aaron (Henry) and Josh (Langford) and Frosty (Loyer) to be captains now. I've always said a player-coached team is better than a coach-coached team."
And at the end of the day, he's still going to do his part.
"I'm gonna get my job done ... how we handle adversity will determine who the champion is going to be and that includes me; I get to tell firsthand, but like I said, I put a challenge out to my assistants and a challenge out to my players. This is the time when you find out if your leadership is good, and I think it's going to be," said Izzo. "And I think they'll do a great job with me out."
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