Sunday, July 5, 2020

MSU head coach Tom Izzo 'standing strong' after early tournament exit

March 23, 2016
Head coach Tom Izzo reacts during the game against Middle Tennessee State University on March 18, 2016 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. The Spartans defeated Raiders, 90-81.
Head coach Tom Izzo reacts during the game against Middle Tennessee State University on March 18, 2016 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. The Spartans defeated Raiders, 90-81. —
Photo by Sundeep Dhanjal | and Sundeep Dhanjal The State News

Four days following MSU's stunning 90-81 loss to Middle Tennessee in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, MSU head basketball coach Tom Izzo held his end of the season press conference.

This particular press conference came earlier in the year than many thought it would. But following the upset, Izzo used Tuesday to diffuse a few things.

"I don’t think any player looked past the game, I don’t think any coach did," Izzo said. "I know the way we practiced. I know the way we prepared and I know the way our seniors were. It doesn’t even come across my mind."

Middle Tennessee jumped ahead of MSU early in last Friday's game and never looked back. Within the first five minutes, the Blue Raiders held a 15-2 advantage. And every time it appeared MSU was clawing its way back into the game, Middle Tennessee would come right back with dagger after dagger.

For the game, the Blue Raiders shot 11-for-19 from 3-point land and 55.9 percent from the field overall. But it wasn't as if MSU was playing much worse. Yes, the Spartans had 14 turnovers compared to Middle Tennessee's 10, but MSU still shot 55.6 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

"I don’t feel any different than I did that night," Izzo said. "Did we make some defensive mistakes? Yes we did. Was it a lack of anything? No. I think in the second half in the last 12 minutes, I think there were like eight 3-point plays made. Either shots they made or three point finishes off of fouls. I think there were three or four of those alone. Just like we said after the game every run we made they answered it, and they answered it with a three point play one way or another. That did take some of the wind out of our sails."

In addition to this, as far as the way he coached the game, Izzo said he wouldn't change a thing and still isn't making any excuses for why MSU lost. 

MSU just got beat, Izzo said.

Izzo also said he wouldn't have changed anything in regards to any defensive strategies or whether he should have used an earlier timeout to stop Middle Tennessee's initial run.

"I’m standing strong," Izzo said. "I’m not stubborn about it. I think it’s worked for me, and it’s worked for me over a period of time. And when you do something over a period of time, that doesn’t mean there’s not changes that you can make. But I wouldn’t do anything different."

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