Other MSU head coaches react to Izzo's Final Four run
Anyone who spends a significant amount of time around the athletic staff at MSU knows they are a tight-knit group, always eager to support one another.
With the men’s basketball team making their seventh Final Four appearance under head coach Tom Izzo, a few of the other head coaches at MSU weighed in on the man Izzo is, the basketball team’s success and Izzo’s ability to keep producing quality teams that make long post-season runs.
Wrestling head coach Tom Minkel
Minkel, who is in his 24th season as head coach of the wrestling team, has been around Izzo at the university for a long time and said he admires Izzo’s love of the game.
“Coach Izzo’s passion for his athletes and the game of basketball is second to none,” Minkel said. “I know of no one who can match his intensity. There is nothing more important than fundamentals and discipline and I know of no one who teaches that better than coach Izzo.”
When Minkel was grieving the loss of his father, he said it was Izzo that reached out to him to see how he was doing.
“I lost my father in the fall and the first person to call me was Tom Izzo. He’s not only a great coach but a great person as well.”
The wrestling head coach is not surprised one bit that Izzo has another team in the Final Four, even if there were uncertainties surrounding this year’s team.
“I don’t think anyone is shocked that Izzo got another team into the Final Four. However, in February it wasn’t certain that they would make the tournament field at all,” Minkel said. “The fact that they not only made the tournament but now are in the Final Four is truly extraordinary, and I think that is coach Izzo’s gift. He finds a way to get it done.”
Baseball head coach Jake Boss Jr.
Boss was excited to see the basketball team make yet another run and he believes that their success helps the other athletic programs.
“I’m excited for (the basketball team), I think I need to go hang out in the basketball office with them a little more and see if some of coach Izzo’s wisdom can rub off on me,” Boss said. “(Their success) adds to the atmosphere of being here at Michigan State. There’s no question that it helps us. It helps us in recruiting, it helps with our team and the mood around here. We’re those guys biggest fans.”
No matter how many Final Four appearances, TV spots and interviews Tom Izzo gets, Boss said he never gets too big for the other coaches in the athletic department.
“To his credit, he’s made himself very available to me and the rest of us in the athletic department,” Boss said. “I’ve gone to him for advice on numerous occasions and he’ll come out and watch baseball games with his son. We’ve got a very good relationship. He is the reason our athletic department has the atmosphere that it does.”
Throughout the years Boss said Izzo’s teams have shown they have the consistent ability to play hard.
"(Tom Izzo) gets (his team) to play hard, they trust him and when it gets to that crunch time in those big games like thats it’s awfully comforting to have a guy that’s been there and done that before,” Boss said.
Gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages
Klages said she sees a lot of determination and passion in the men’s basketball team, and they refuse to give up.
“(The basketball team has) a lot of heart. They don’t want this game to be their last one and they’ve been carrying that (mindset) all the way through.”
Klages loves to support the other athletic programs at the university. During the basketball team’s 76-70 win against Louisville in the Elite Eight, she had the tough task of balancing watching the game with a family event.
Klages’s daughter is pregnant, and the baby shower was happening during the Elite Eight game, a problem for Klages.
“So as we ate our lunch and played the silly baby shower games I kept on saying we have to speed this up the game’s going to start,” she said.
After tip-off in Syracuse, New York family and friends had to take a back seat to MSU basketball.
“We finished the baby shower-games and were like ‘What time is it?” and it was 2:22 p.m. So we moved the entire shower back upstairs and my daughter sat under the TV. and opened her gifts. We were all watching the game.”