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When people doubt Tom Izzo, he responds with success

Doubt this man at your own peril.



Tom Izzo
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

When people doubt Tom Izzo, he usually responds with success and leads Michigan State basketball to great things.

There have been moments during the Tom Izzo tenure at Michigan State where either he or his team have been doubted. This doubting of him and his team started really early in his coaching tenure after going 33-28 in his first two seasons. Being a new coach is never easy and this was true as Izzo took over for Jud Heathcote. After those first two years, Michigan State would then win the Big Ten regular season title five straight years and make the Final Four in three of those years.

Also, during that timeline, Izzo would go on to win his only national championship. Those five years followed up two seasons when Michigan State was not playing very well. This is where the expectations of Michigan State teams to win Big Ten titles and make runs in the NCAA tournament really started to form.

This does not mean that Izzo and his team should be immune to fan frustration or criticism.

Struggles happen and the following examples just show that the more it seems like they are criticized for poor play for a couple of years, the better they respond in the following years.

There have been years when Michigan State has had lofty expectations and others with low expectations heading into the NCAA tournament. Some of those high-expectation teams accomplished their goals of going to an Elite Elite or even the Final Four. Other teams were out in the first weekend. Those teams, especially the ones that accomplished those high expectations, are fun but some of the most remembered squads under Tom Izzo are the ones that made runs as a 5-seed or lower.

One of those Final Four teams ran into a Duke team that ended up winning the national title. While this wasn’t the end that fans wanted, it is one of those teams that prove the title of this article. Throughout the season, that team was questioned and criticized. There were not many people that believed in the team but when March came, Michigan State got hot and went on a run.

That is what Izzo is known for. That is why Izzo is dubbed Mr. March. He gets the most out of his teams and that is exactly what he did this past year. Again, going into the tournament, most people didn’t think Michigan State would get past the second round and it did. While falling to Kansas State wasn’t fun and just making a Sweet 16 has turned into an expectation at Michigan State, it was coming off of two years in which people questioned Izzo.

This questioning of Izzo was put aside after making the Sweet 16 and has now been put aside for next year’s team.

After the return announcements of Tyson Walker and Malik Hall, expectations for next year’s team have skyrocketed. People are already talking about Michigan State being a top-five team next year.

This is why, as Michigan State fans, we have to trust and realize that when it seems like Izzo doesn’t have a plan, he clearly does, despite struggles for a couple of years.

These recent struggles have been because of post play, for the most part, especially this past season. A lot of people wanted Izzo to go out and get a transfer big man, including myself. Izzo decided to not do that, instead he decided to develop a player like Mady Sissoko, Carson Cooper, and Jaxon Kohler. While frustrating at times and knowing that this year’s team could have gone even further with a proven big man, Izzo trusted himself, and look what came out of it.

A player like Cooper showed his potential when, if Izzo got a transfer, we would not have seen that potential or he might have transferred out. Sissoko did improve as well. While Mady can be frustrating for fans to watch at times, we did see potential from him and he was one of the players that really helped Michigan State in the NCAA tournament. We also saw some impressive post moves by Kohler.

Again, this is not to say that Izzo is perfect. He isn’t and there are some games that you look back and realize that if one or two things go differently, coaching-wise, we win that game. No coach is perfect but if there is one coach that seems like they step up in the fact of doubt, it’s Izzo.

And next year’s team with Walker and Hall coming back just proves that.


Writer says there’s a huge gap between Purdue and Michigan State basketball

This seems like a wild claim.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star claims that Purdue is “historically loaded” and there’s a huge gap between them and Michigan State basketball.

With the news of Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard returning along with Tyson Walker and Malik Hall to go along with the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, Michigan State basketball went from a conference title contender to a national title contender.

Essentially everyone who follows college basketball has Michigan State as a top-five team and right there in the Big Ten as 1B to Purdue’s 1A — some even have it the other way around.

The Spartans bring back everyone but Joey Hauser to a team that went to the Sweet 16 and Purdue returns national player of the year Zach Edey to a Big Ten title team. Both teams are loaded and should be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to national title contention.

But one Indy Star writer believes that Purdue is “historically loaded” and the talent-and-depth gap between the Boilermakers and “everyone else” is as large as he’s seen in years. Just a wild claim.

Gregg Doyel cites a solid incoming class to go along with Edey returning and the two freshmen guards with another year in the system. But he fails to recognize that Michigan State got even better. The Spartans are bringing in an even better recruiting class and they return their 2-3 most talented players from a year ago. The only loss is Hauser.

Saying that this year’s Purdue team is far-and-away the most talented and deepest team in the Big Ten and the gap is the biggest it’s been in years is asinine. There was a much larger gap last year.

Michigan State will go toe-to-toe with the Boilermakers and as long as Edey can be neutralized, the Spartans will have a chance to take them down for the Big Ten crown.

It’s tough to say a team like Michigan State basketball that’s 11-12 guys deep is not nearly as talented or deep as Purdue, but hey, let’s put that early chip on the shoulder.

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Michigan State Basketball: Allocating guard minutes for 2023-24

A lot of guards, not a lot of minutes to be had.



Michigan State basketball
© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball has an absolutely loaded backcourt heading into 2023-24. Let’s allocate the guard minutes.

Michigan State basketball has a loaded backcourt with the news of AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins returning next season. Add this on top of Tyson Walker coming back and Michigan State adding a four-star point guard in Jeremy Fears just loads up this back court even more.

Let’s take a look at what the minute allocation could look like between the five guards on the roster.


The starting point guard is clearly set into place with AJ Hoggard starting 33 of 34 games last year. Next year’s team still goes as Hoggard goes and he will most likely average 28-30 minutes per game. AJ being able to defend multiple positions allows him to play alongside any of the other three guards on the roster next year. He should average around 15 points per game and six-plus assists. Him being able to increase his 3-point percentage up to 35 percent next year should help his scoring dramatically.

The starting shooting guard is Walker who started in all 34 games last season and nothing will change this season. This team is going to rely plenty on Tyson to begin the season as this team continues to mesh with all of the different lineups. He played almost 34 minutes per game this season due to injuries and necessity. Tyson will take a step back and only play 30-32 minutes this upcoming season. He will look to average 16-plus points per game and 2.5-plus assists.


This may come as a surprise, but I believe the backup point guard role will fall to Tre Holloman. He has a year under the belt with the system and should take a step forward in his role. He is able to defend either guard position allowing him to play with any of the other four guards on the team. Holloman will play anywhere between 8-12 minutes per game and will look to be in a more featured role running the backup offense. Tre should average 3-5 points per game and 1.5 assists.

Jeremy Fears will fill in and be able to learn from a loaded backcourt while playing 6-8 minutes per game which could be pushed to 8-10 by the end of the season. Fears defense should rival what Walker brings to this team with this second group. Fears offensive role will look like Tre’s freshman year and not looked upon much offensively. He should look to average 1.5-plus points and one assist per game.

Finally, Jaden Akins will fill in anywhere from 2-5 minutes at the two-guard spot. He can help fill an offensive role when Tyson is out of the game and can handle some of the pick and roll duties in this spot. Akins will mostly play on the wing as he started 25 games there last season. He is a guard, but he’ll be forced into playing on the wing.

Minutes Summary

  • AJ Hoggard: 28-30 per game
  • Tyson Walker: 30-32 per game
  • Tre Holloman: 8-12 per game
  • Jeremy Fears: 6-8 per game
  • Jaden Akins: 2-5 per game

Akins did tweet this out the other day:

So he could see more ball-handling duties.

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Jeremy Fears makes final cut for U19 USA Basketball team

Jeremy Fears could represent USA Basketball again.



Jeremy Fears
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming Michigan State freshman Jeremy Fears has made the final cut for the U19 USA Basketball team.

Incoming Michigan State basketball freshman Jeremy Fears is hard at work this summer. He is currently in the process of trying to make the final roster for the U19 USA Basketball team. Thirty-five athletes have been selected to participate in their upcoming training camp, and Fears is included on that list.

Training camp for these 35 athletes with take place June 11-18. Twelve players will then be selected to participate in the FIBA U19 Wold Cup at the conclusion of this training camp. The World Cup takes place from June 24 through July 2.

The 35 players consist of some athletes in the 2022 class that have one year of college ball under their belts. The pool of players also consists of athletes from the 2023 incoming freshmen class and the 2024 class who will be high school seniors. More than half of these participants have USA Basketball experience and ten of them have won gold for the USA already.

Jeremy Fears’ USA Basketball history

Jeremy Fears is one of the 10 players mentioned to have already won gold for the USA. In fact, Fears has won a gold medal twice. He won the 2021 U16 FIBA Championships and in 2022 won gold in the U17 FIBA World Cup.

Based on this history alone, I love his chances to make the team again. The USA Basketball program is obviously very familiar with him already which gives him an advantage. Also, why wouldn’t they want someone who has won two gold medals to play for them again?

Fears has yet to move in to East Lansing like some of his fellow members of his freshman class have. He likely will see this event out before moving to campus to start gearing up for the regular season. Michigan State has had many athletes compete with team USA in the past, so Tom Izzo is more than happy to let his players participate.

For the full USA Basketball press release, click here.

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