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Tom Izzo shares an interesting text exchange with AJ Hoggard

This is AJ’s team.

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Tom Izzo and AJ Hoggard
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tom Izzo texted AJ Hoggard the night before the Stony Brook game and the veteran point guard’s response was perfect.

AJ Hoggard is the leader of this team. If you had any doubt of that before Thursday night’s game, Tom Izzo showed us why he is. Many regarded Stony Brook as a potential trap game for Michigan State. We were coming off two blowout wins and had a long Christmas break on the horizon. This is the time where a lot of teams get upset by a low level team.

To help avoid this from happening, Izzo turned to his senior point guard in an interesting text change the night before the game.

Tom Izzo shares text exchange with AJ Hoggard

During Izzo’s post game press conference, he shared that he texted AJ the night before about another college basketball team that got upset on Wednesday night. Izzo did this as a way of telling AJ that he needs to keep himself and the rest of the team completely focused on Stony Brook. AJ’s response is why he is the leader of this team:

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure we’re ready to play” responded AJ. Tom Izzo then said this about AJ’s response during Thursday night’s press conference, “That means he’s starting to take over the team. That’s very encouraging, very encouraging.”

Izzo knows what AJ means for this team. Tyson Walker may be the best player, but I’d argue that Hoggard is the most important. The offense runs through AJ. When he is playing aggressively and attacking the rim, this team can beat anyone. At times, AJ seems to have motivation issues, but this text makes me think he is past those early season struggles.

AJ Hoggard’s play has turned a corner

As I mentioned, Hoggard had a slow start to the season. So much so that he was benched and did not start against Georgia Southern. However, his poor performances on the court seem to be behind him. During MSU’s first six games this season, Hoggard averaged 9.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 0.3 steals per game. In the most recent six games, AJ has been averaging 12.5 points, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game.

A switch must’ve flipped in his head, because his increase in play during those stretches is significant. The thing I like the most about those stats are the increase in steals. Hoggard is getting about two more steals per game than he was to start the season, and that shows his focus and intensity is there. Good defense leads to good offense, and with MSU’s fast-paced style of play, steals usually lead to easy buckets. So it’s no surprise to see an increase in steals led to an increase in his overall play.

If Michigan State basketball wants to accomplish its goals this season, Hoggard has to keep this up. I’m not as concerned about him scoring a lot of points each game, that’s more on Tyson Walker. But Hoggard needs to be a leader for us every single night. He needs to bring energy, focus and intensity to each game, because if he does that than the rest of the team will follow his lead. I think Izzo knows this as well, and that’s why he texted AJ the night before the Stony Brook game.

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.

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