Hoops Notes: Goins update, Izzo developing star players
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo met with reporters Monday afternoon at Breslin Center in advance of the No. 11 Spartans’ visit to No. 20 Wisconsin on Tuesday night. He spoke about the development of important players in MSU’s 79-55 Saturday afternoon victory over Minnesota, gave an update on the status of Kenny Goins and previewed the trip to a tough Wisconsin team that has won six of seven.
Izzo was asked about senior guard Matt McQuaid’s performance Saturday afternoon, when he made four out of six three-pointers and scored 18 points, while holding Minnesota’s Amir Coffey to only four points.
“He shot like the guy we recruited,” Izzo said. “But he also defended like the guy we didn’t recruit. That’s what’s been impressive about Matt McQuaid. If you look at who he’s covered on all these teams, if he isn’t – I’m not gonna say one of, maybe the best defensive player in this league, that’s something I have a great feel for, and Matt has done an unbelievable job.”
Senior forward Kenny Goins injured his left elbow early on in Saturday’s game, but Izzo said Monday afternoon that it is not broken, as they initially feared.
He stated Goins would be a limited participant in practice, and could not be sure of his availability for Tuesday night. He was asked about what the team would be missing if Goins wasn’t able to play, or wasn’t able to play to his normal level, Tuesday night.
“Kenny Goins has been not our best player in almost any game, but our most versatile player in just about every game," Izzo said. "So, he’s becoming our own miniature MVP because he can do a little bit of everything, and he helps everybody, including passing the ball into Nick. He’s done a great job of feeding the post. I’m hoping on something that’s not broken, it is his left arm...”
Finally, Izzo spoke about Wisconsin, saying they fit the mold of a typical Badgers squad: solid. He complimented Badgers head coach Greg Gard, saying that he thinks the team is a lot better on both ends than they were early in the season. He called senior center Ethan Happ “a non-shooting point guard in a big’s body,” saying he was maybe the best passing big man in the country.
He also shared a story about the family of D’Mitrik Trice, a redshirt sophomore Badger guard and younger brother of former Spartan guard Travis Trice. Their father, Travis Sr., is a high school coach in Huber Heights, Ohio, and won a state championship in March 2015 the night before Travis Jr. was slated to play an Elite Eight game.
“To the day I die, I will never forget getting up for the game in Syracuse when we were going to play Louisville," Izzo said. "It was an early afternoon game and I was up early in this film room which was across the way from the hotel, you had to go over a little bridge. And the Clampetts came walking in, man. It was the Trice family. They had driven all night after the dad had won a state championship, and the little girls had pillows and they had their bears with them. They walked in and I sad, ‘Hey the Clampetts have arrived.’ It was so cool. And then to have the dad win a state championship on a Saturday night and the son go to a Final Four on Sunday, that was made for TV.”
Izzo said Tuesday would be emotional because of how much the entire Trice family means to him. He said their mother, Julie, calls him often and still comes up for Spartan games on occasion.
Tuesday night’s game tips off at 7 p.m. ET, from the Kohl Center in Madison.