MSU's Tom Izzo surrounded by former Spartans after 300th win Print
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Monday, 25 February 2008 13:17
NCAAB Headline News


 EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -Tom Izzo's mansion was filled with many of the players who helped him win 300 games at Michigan State, and earn the millions he's made to buy it.
Izzo downplayed the milestone victory he had Saturday, but was moved by the postgame tribute at the Breslin Center and a gathering of about 20 former Spartans at his house.
``I don't think it's something to celebrate, but I felt good because I got to spend about five hours with those guys,'' Izzo said Monday.
The party didn't last long.
The 19th-ranked Spartans (22-5, 10-4 Big Ten) play at No. 10 Wisconsin (23-4, 13-2) on Thursday night. They have struggled on the road, losing three straight.
``I am looking forward to the game,'' Izzo insisted. ``We're going at a time that we're making some progress.''
Izzo gave some credit for two blowout wins over Penn State and Iowa to Magic Johnson, who made a no-look assist last week.
The Hall of Fame point guard spoke to his fellow Spartans without the head coach present, per Izzo's request, and told them to make more low-risk passes instead of spectacular ones.
``I wasn't in there, but I think that would hit home from a guy who was considered the greatest decision-maker ever,'' Izzo said. ``I said, 'Why don't you talk to them by yourself so if they want to complain, let them complain.' It turned out great because they didn't and he talked.
``He was real with them. He didn't sugarcoat anything, from what I told, and he didn't sugarcoat anybody.''
Michigan State has lived up to high expectations this season for the most part when it has cut down on turnovers, and has disappointed when being careless with the basketball. The Spartans are 10-1 when they make fewer turnovers than their opponents.
In the Spartans' recent losses at Indiana and Purdue, they had 19 turnovers in each game while the Hoosiers and Boilermakers averaged about 10.
``I don't look at it like we can't play on the road, but we're not as physically and mentally tough and that usually helps you on the road,'' Izzo said. ``But that has nothing to do with those two losses.''
Izzo said his team is not where it needs to be and his program still has work to do in regards to bringing back former players.
He mentioned how famed football coaches Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes had the ability to attract 600 players back to Michigan and Ohio State, respectively. He also admires the way North Carolina and Duke's basketball programs have created a culture of coming back.
Izzo hopes the 30-year reunion of the Johnson-led championship team next year and the 10-year anniversary of the Mateen Cleaves-led squad the following season coupled with an annual reunion game might help.
Former Spartan Daimon Beathea said last weekend's trip back to campus and Izzo's house, where he was joined by players such as Cleaves, was the start of something special.
``The consensus was that we need to do that a lot more,'' said Beathea, who is the president and head coach of the IBL's Elkhart Express. ``It's great to be a part of something like that. And, it was funny to hear everybody's tales and their stories of stories.''
 

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