City Sports Report

Tom Izzo is the best coach in college basketball

Tom Izzo instructing his point guard, Travis Trice. (photo courtesy of www.mlive.com)

There are coaches like Kentucky’s John Calipari and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski that tend to get all the accolades of anyone across the country., Their teams continue to make it over and over to the Big Dance and they continually are the teams everyone expects to be good. But there is another coach that always seems to be looked over when it comes to garnering the title as the nation’s best coach. That man is none other than Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. Year after year he has his teams in contention to make the Tournament and do damage. And this year he again has his team in position to go to the Final Four and represent the Big Ten. It seems that year after year, he finds a way to get his teams back to the peak play at the right time. But what makes Izzo and his coaching so special?

The team that he has currently right now is one of the least talented teams he has had in a while on paper. He does not have a ton of top recruits and unlike some of the other big-name schools, they don’t have one or two All-Americans. There only All-American is a guy that is an undersized power forward in Brandon Dawson. But what makes Izzo and his coaching talents stand out is he takes players and makes them better. He sees something in them that he can help grow and if players stick around long enough with him, they become better players. For example take a look at current starting point guard Travis Trice. When he was brought into Michigan State, he was a Top 200 prospect that some did not have high hopes for. He came in his freshman season and only averaged 4.5 points in 17 minutes. But as time went on, he developed Trice more and more and as a senior, he is their best guard and is averaged 15 points for the season along with 5 assists per game. If you look up and down the roster of the Spartans, it’s full of players that may have started off slowly in their career and picked up steam as they went on. Or he has players that people overlooked like Denzel Valentine who came in and has been a contributor ever since he stepped on campus.

But along with the development of players, Izzo seems to deliberately play a tougher schedule at the beginning of the season. This year he played a little softer schedule to begin the season, but that included three games against the likes of Duke, Kansas and Notre Dame. They may have lost all three games to these teams, but it did allow Izzo to see what kind of resolve he had with this team and what he had to do to get them to the tournament and ready to compete in it as well. He used the results of those game as well as a tough Big Ten schedule to mold the team in to what he needed them to be when the tournament arrives. And as a result of that, this Michigan State team, although they may lack some big names, is as tough as they come. Toughness is one thing that Izzo will not allow his team to relax about. And it is something that he will demand out of his team each and every day until he gets it. As the season went on, this team grew with their toughness and resolve. They also were built into a team that could make a run because Izzo realized what he had and what he didn’t so he could effectively use the players he had. Izzo has done this routinely every season he has been in Lansing, Michigan. And each and every season, it seems to work to his advantage. The players may not be as talented as other rosters, but as a whole, they play as a cohesive, feisty unit that will not go out quietly and will fight you until the end.

Tom Izzo is definitely a future Basketball Hall of Famer. He can coach talent but he can also make talent better than what they were when they arrived to be coached under him. And this latest Michigan State program is a great example of what he can do as a coach. Before the season, many wondered what the Spartans would be like this season due to the lack of big recruits Izzo brought in and the talent that left. But in saying that, it seemed as if the fans and the national media overlooked the special talent that lies within Izzo when he is on the sidelines. And like clockwork, he is showing us yet again his coaching mastery on the sideline, getting a bunch of guys that were thought to struggle this season to the Elite Eight against the University of Louisville. And it looks like he has the opportunity once again to make it to the Final Four. Izzo is a class act and a great coach who definitely needs to get more respect. And he is the best coach in college basketball.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

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