By: Joe “Cright” Cardoso
March Madness is an awesome thing. Millions of people who don’t watch a game all year run to the office lunch room for a bracket. College kids are printing off dozens of them, and the sports nut no one talks to all year is suddenly Mr. or Ms. Popular. ESPN, Fox and all the “Experts” shell out advice on who to pick where and why. Almost every year, however, they forget, or at least don’t give enough props to, the little monster growing up in East Lansing. The beast known as the Michigan State Spartans; home of Magic Johnson, Steve Smith, Mateen Cleaves, and other players who have gone on to be solid NBA players and great people in general.
Now I am a DIE HARD Michigan fan who bleeds maze and blue, BUT you have to recognize greatness when you see it. That being said, there is NO WAY can anyone dismiss what Tom Izzo has done with this program, and more specifically, March.
First off the Spartans duck no one. Izzo has them play one of the toughest schedules year in and out, and the Big 10 is tough. By the time conference time rolls around his team has already gone through hell and back. He always seems to be ranked high in the preseason. They take a tough loss and we forget about them as they plug along until March…
In my opinion, guards and great coaching dominate in the NCAA tournament. MSU always seems to have good point guard play. They rebound as if the next meal depends on it! Stories of Izzo’s rebounding drills being like a football practice are thing of legend. I would love to try it out one day and see how long until I throw up or my body gives out.
March is Coach Izzo’s time, and he has to be considered one of the BEST NCAA tournament coaches in history, hands down. Why, you ask? Well let’s check the stats shall we:
- 13-1 in the round of 32
- 6 Final Fours in 20 years
- EVERY player that has played 4 years has made it to at least 1 Final Four
He’s only coached at MSU so he has built the program back up to its glory years. I find his philosophy of coaching to be genius. He puts the players in all types of environments so that by the time tournament season comes they have seen it all: full court press, man to man, zone etc. He pushes his teams to be great and not to crack; we all know pressure bust pipes.
As we prepare for the Sweet 16, don’t forget about that team from up north. The team with little fanfare and no real “Super Star.” The team that’s just a bunch of hungry talented kids who can take anything you throw at them. Building a program in college sports begins with a coach who can build the culture he wants and win. Ninety-eight percent of players want to win, and to be pushed to see how far they can go with the God-given ability they have. This man taps into that and you can see it. Bet on the fact that Tom and his team are not finished making a run at this thing.
And for all my Michigan Wolverine faithfuls, don’t be afraid; I’m not jumping ship. GO Blue all day, but you cannot act like what he does isn’t awesome. If you are looking for an example, I suggest you Google Tom Izzo.