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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.


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