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January 24, 2011

More shovel talk

Some interesting stuff from Tom Izzo today on pushing players. He revealed this about Durrell Summers and the Purdue game: "I told Durrell at halftime, 'If you don’t guard better, your playing days might be done here.' And you know what? That kid had his best half of defense that he’s played since he’s been here."

    "Some people need to be pushed," Izzo said later. "Some people need to be challenged. And some people need to be leaned on morning noon and night.  It is hard to do that, though."

    Izzo said "social media" is part of that problem. And while it's clear he does not enjoy Twitter (I don't see how any coaches could, considering some of the ridiculous tweets I've seen from college athletes over the past few months), he really means media coverage in general. He referenced the recent John Calipari episode, in which Calipari let fly with a torrent of profanities toward Terrence Jones, only to apologize later after the resulting uproar.

    "Now there are no doors on anything," Izzo said. "We're all naked."

    Izzo said that if he did today what he did then to motivate Morris Peterson, "I’d be shoveling snow up the UP somewhere, and probably a hell of a lot happier."

    Interesting stuff. As was Izzo's continuing refusal to concede anything in the Big Ten race. He brought up a good point, that MSU started 9-0 last season and was seen as the favorite to breeze to another outright title. But MSU had a bunch of tough games ahead, and home losses to Purdue and Ohio State left the Spartans needing a win at Purdue to salvage a share.

    The difference this year, in my opinion, is that Ohio State just won at Illinois and doesn't have to travel to East Lansing this season. But hey, the Buckeyes still go to Purdue and Wisconsin, have Purdue in Columbus tomorrow night. Something crazy like a loss at Northwestern could happen, and if MSU scores an upset in Columbus, this could still get interesting. I suppose.

        "Everybody was ready to give it to us and I said 'Wait a minute,' and the schedule was in our favor last year," Izzo said. "The schedule is in Ohio State’s favor this year."

    The eyeball test -- looking at both MSU and Ohio State at this point -- tells me the Spartans are out of it and playing for NCAA seeding. Things do happen, though.

    "If Ohio State has one major negative, let them get one injury -- which happens to all of us -- and that could change that team enormously," Izzo said. "Enormously."

    Even if the race doesn't change, Izzo said he feels the same way about his team -- that it isn't far from clicking. That's not "coachspeak," he assured us, because "that's not my style."

    "If tomorrow the Big Ten race was (over) I wouldn’t change how I feel about anything," he said. "We just, we’re so out of whack sometimes, me too, that we just think every year we should win the Big Ten championship, we should go to the Final Four. Well you know what? Sometimes it’s good to get punched in the mouth."

 

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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