Izzo closes out ’23 campaign, looks ahead in postseason presser

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Michigan State men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo held a press conference on April 12 to close the 2022-23 season and look ahead to the future.

He began to recap the season, stating: “It never ends the way you want unless you win it all, but I can’t say that was the number one objective. We had to survive. All in all, under the circumstances, I thought it was a very good season.” 

Izzo viewed the season as a success. He has studied the loss to Kansas State on film in the weeks since. 

“I think Marquette was the toughest of the teams we played,” Izzo said. “[Kansas State] hit a couple tough shots late. Tyson wishes he would’ve taken that last shot.”

With Tyson Walker and Malik Hall officially coming back, Izzo said Michigan State has something to celebrate. Hall being injured all year was more hindering than initially thought. Izzo noted that when the season ended he had surgery to hopefully prevent problems moving forward.

Izzo views Malik as the “godfather of the group.” He continues to fill the role of a leader and mentor for his teammates and significantly has improved as a player himself.

On top of the older veterans coming back, more solid players including Jaden Akins, AJ Hoggard, and Mady Sissoko leave a good base for the freshmen to come in and have some mentors. Izzo hopes that with the talented recruits coming in he will create a competitive environment. 

“Every year there’ll be guys pushing guys,” Izzo said. “Competitive nature and fighting for something you want badly is good and this gives us a chance to be normal and this year we were not normal.” 

With the roster effectively two deep at each position heading into next season, Izzo is excited at the prospect of being able to get out and run on offense, put pressure on ball handlers defensively, and crash the glass.

“We couldn’t practice that way because of some of the injuries that happened,” Izzo said.

Xavier Booker, Coen Carr, Jeremy Fears and Gehrig Normand are the four recruits for the 2023 class. Izzo hopes these young guys will push the veterans out of their comfort zone and light a spark under them. 

With how accessible it is to enter your name into the portal, or draft, there is never a guarantee on who’s coming back. He said that the days of having 13 players on scholarship are over.

“No one wants to compete for anything,” Izzo said. “The grass is always greener now even though it never is, it always is. Sooner or later it better be a damn honor to wear Michigan State on your jersey.”

The prevailing theme of the day was the new age of college basketball and the transfer portal.

With only Pierre Brooks II entering his name in the portal, Michigan State will return everyone from last year’s roster except for Brooks and graduating seniors Jason Whitens and Joey Hauser. Since entering the portal, Brooks has announced he will head to Butler University.

“We had some conversations and Pierre ultimately made a decision that was right for him,” Izzo said.

Izzo also touched on Ismael Massoud, one of the heroes in Kansas State’s victory over MSU and his decision to enter his name into the portal. Izzo remains steady on his transfer portal.

“I think some guys are being sold a bill of goods,” Izzo said. “Some of the people in these players’ ears are giving players some bad advice.”

Izzo lamented on how society is changing in front of him and pointed out that he’s had to adjust as much as anyone. He noted the importance of being uncomfortable en route to success.

“I’m uncomfortable everyday,” Izzo said. “That drives me.”

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