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Tom Izzo Makes a Top Gun Entrance at Michigan State Midnight Madness

College basketball officially made its return Friday night with Midnight Madness festivities taking place all across the country.  This may come as a shocker, but Tom Izzo made himself into one of the highlights of the night with his absurd entrance.  That’s right, the same Michigan State coach who sped his way into East Lansing a couple years ago had a new bit up his sleeve for 2011.  Check out this picture of Izzo’s Top Gun-style entrance, courtesy of our friends at The Dagger who have been tracking some of the best moments from Midnight Madness.

He looks like a natural in that fighter jet.  By making the Top Gun entrance, Izzo is referencing the Spartans Veteran’s Day game against No. 1 North Carolina which is being held on an aircraft carrier.  That should be a fun one to watch.

Character, Reputation Gives Tom Izzo Benefit of Doubt in Suspension

Michigan State crushed Prairie View A&M Saturday 90-51, getting 25 points from Durrell Summers. The Spartans won the game despite not having coach Tom Izzo who was serving a one-game suspension for a secondary recruiting violation. The issue at hand was that Michigan State employed “an individual associated with a prospect” during a summer camp, a charge that had MSU befuddled.

Michigan State was worried that the punishment — a one-game suspension — would draw so much attention that the issue would not be buried. They were wrong. Because coach Tom Izzo is one of the most well respected, revered coaches in all of college basketball, he has received the benefit of the doubt. Many members of the media have taken Izzo at his word and have questioned the NCAA’s decision rather than the coach. The type of character Izzo displayed when he was courted by the Cavaliers and that he’s shown throughout his career is that of someone who plays fairly.

It’s hard to know what really happened or if Izzo is telling the truth, but he’s built up so much credibility it’s hard not to believe him. Additionally, some research suggests the matter is complete b.s., only confirming Izzo’s honest ways. If this Spartan Tailgate post is accurate, then Izzo was reprimanded for having a former player, Carlton Valentine, coach at the camp. Valentine is a local high school coach and his son happens to have committed to Michigan State. If the post is accurate, Izzo definitely deserves the benefit he’s been afforded.

Izzo Goes At it With a Reporter

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo managed to do a fairly good job of remaining quiet throughout the days when he considered moving on to the NBA to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.  With all the speculation that surrounded the Spartans coach, I’m sure some frustration built up over the nine days in which he was undecided about his future.  Amongst all that was written about Izzo, one article seems to have really struck a nerve.  That article — titled “It’s Too Late For Tom Izzo To Return To Michigan State” — was written by Detroit News columnist Lynn Henning.  Henning was present for the Tom Izzo press conference on Tuesday night, and the coach let him know how he felt about his reporting.  Check out the audio of Tom Izzo and reporter Lynn Henning arguing for ten minutes during the coach’s press conference to announce he’s staying:

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Tom Izzo Is Making the Right Decision by Not Speaking

Tom Izzo, the current basketball coach at Michigan State, is keeping his mouth shut when it comes to potentially the biggest decision of his career. Izzo is reported to be the candidate that the Cleveland Cavaliers are most interested in to fill their head coach vacancy.

Izzo was asked by a boy at a basketball camp on Monday whether he had decided on his future. He replied by saying that it was a “bad question” and refused to give any insight on his decision to his campers.

I think Izzo is making the right move in not speaking about his future plans. Whether he has or hasn’t made up his mind on accepting the job, he is beloved by the students at Michigan State and he should approach the situation with a little more sensitivity than to just answer a reporter’s question if he is to leave the school.

Izzo has a big decision on his hands. He could accept the Cavs position and double his salary to $6 million, but he’ll want to know LeBron’s free agency decision first. If LeBron stays, he would be coaching one of the greatest, if not the greatest player in the league right now. But Izzo has been coached at Michigan State since 1993 and his loyalties may lie with the students who respect and adore him so much.

It’s hard to predict what Izzo will do with out knowing what King James plans on doing. But here’s what I think: LeBron will stay in Cleveland and Izzo will decide that he’s ready for the NBA and announce his acceptance of the position with the Cavs. I’m not a mind reader though, ladies and gentlemen, so don’t go run and bet your buddies based on my thoughts. But if I had an opportunity to coach The King, I just don’t think I could pass it up.

Sources:
Izzo won’t answer camper’s query [ESPN]

Cavs Job Has Little Appeal for Tom Izzo Without LeBron James

It appears that Michigan State men’s basketball mainstay Tom Izzo is the Cavaliers’ hopeful head coaching incentive to keep LeBron James in Cleveland. It also appears that LeBron James is the only incentive pulling Izzo away from the team he has led to six of the last 12 NCAA Men’s Final Fours.

Even if Izzo, who has been on the NBA radar since the Atlanta Hawks expressed interest following Michigan State winning the 2000 NCAA national championship, stands to make six million dollars a year for four to five years in Cleveland, no LeBron  means Izzo is probably better off staying at Michigan State. Without King James, things in Cleveland are just not as exciting. And we all know how Izzo likes exciting. Here’s what Jud Heathcote, Izzo’s predecessor at Michigan State, told the Detroit News:

“I honestly think he’ll look at this, but unless he can get some commitment from LeBron James, the job isn’t that good. I think a lot hinges on what [Izzo] feels about LeBron’s future. I think he’s seriously considering it. He’s going to look at it like he does on all things but he’s got an awfully good situation at Michigan State, too.”

While it’s obvious that LeBron is going to be the primary influence of how things fall into place in Cleveland, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert insists that LeBron James is not Cleveland’s head coach, general manager, and all-star, nor does he control the price of popcorn at the Quicken Loans Arena, as some speculators might suggest.

Sources:
Izzo, Cavs have discussed deal [FoxSports]

Tom Izzo Brings Down the House at Midnight Madness

Friday night was Midnight Madness across the country in college basketball because Saturday is the first day schools can officially begin practicing. Many programs put on a show for their fans but none may have matched Michigan State’s display in East Lansing. They had more electronics there than a freaking KISS concert. You think they roll out that kind of red carpet for some marching band? Gimme a break — it was for Tom Izzo. Check out the festivities:

Yes, that was Izzo the great rolling into the gym in a freaking Formula 1 racecar. ESPN has a video compilation of the Midnight Madness parties. Georgetown and Kansas had some cool ones and then you had Kentucky roll out John Calipari to make a speech like he was Barack freaking Obama. Crazy people. As if having NFL, college football, NHL, MLB playoffs, and NBA preseason wasn’t enough, we now have Midnight Madness. I’m officially on overload.

Tom Izzo and Roy Williams Are Two of the Best, Deserve National Titles

There are times when teams are getting set to play for a title and I have no rooting interest. Often times I’ll choose to root against the team I like the least. I’ve had to do that in the past few Super Bowls that the Steelers won because I have loyalties to the Bengals. When the Spartans and Tarheels meet with a title on the line Monday night, I’m pleased to say that I’ll be satisfied with either outcome. If forced to choose, there’s no doubt that I’m pulling for Michigan State. I’d love for the state to have the win during a terrible time for its economy. Moreover, I’d love to see the best coach in America, Tom Izzo, pull off another shocker.

Every time you think Michigan State doesn’t have it or that they’ll get bounced from the tournament, they win. Every time you say the Spartans are over-matched, they win. Taking on what appeared to be a more talented UConn team, Michigan State employed a running strategy, trying to move the ball down the court as soon as a shot was either made or missed. Izzo figured they had depth and that’s why he wanted to run, and it turned out to be the perfect strategy. Vegas and everyone else likes the Tarheels to win the game by a comfortable margin. Maybe we’ll all be shown one more time why you can’t underestimate an Izzo-coached team in a big game.

Ever since leaving Kansas for Carolina, Roy Williams took the Tarheels back to the top of the college ranks. UNC had fallen off tremendously under Matt Doherty, going 8-20 and 19-16 in back-to-back years. When Williams took over, he only needed one season before he turned the program back to a national championship-level. After that title team got raided for talent (Williams lost his top seven scorers), the Heels fell off and went 23-8, but still finished 2nd in the ACC. Since then, Roy has done nothing but reload, proving that North Carolina is back to being the premier national power in the country. They’ve gone 31-7, 36-3, and 33-4 with back-to-back Final Four appearances and a shot at a second national title for Williams. It’s also no coincidence that Carolina’s return to prominence coincides with Duke’s drop-off amongst the nation’s elite.

These are two powerhouse programs even if Michigan State hasn’t been considered to be on the same level historically as North Carolina. These are two of the best coaches in the game and it’s not an accident that both teams made it this far. Knowing that we’re seeing some of the best in the business square off gives me the peace of mind to be happy with the champion, whoever comes out on top. Here’s to Michigan State — it would be great to see them pull it off!