As time ran down, Spartan victory was inevitable. With his team leading over 30 and three minutes left in the game, sophomore guard Jack Hoiberg went to talk to Head Coach Tom Izzo. He proceeded to sit down and turn to freshman walk-on Steven Izzo.
“You ready?” Hoiberg asked.
Izzo nodded, as the Breslin Center began chanting “Izzo, Izzo, Izzo…”
He was nervous, after all.
Izzo didn’t even think he was going to play today, but he was ready.
“I didn’t really expect the crowd to start cheering my name, well our name. I didn’t even go into the game thinking I was gonna play," Steven Izzo said. "I was just gonna sit on the bench, watch Jack do his thing."
“When Jack went in early, he came out he said to me ‘You ready?’ I was like ‘yeah,’ because I wasn’t gonna ... tell him the truth."
Izzo’s teammates immediately came to his side, preparing him for the moment.
“Brock (Washington) gave me knucks. I look at Joey (Hauser), Joey is just smiling," Steven said. "Kyle Ahrens sits next to me he’s like ‘You worried?’"
Steven Izzo was worried.
After his teammates talked to him more, he went out there as calm as he could be. His first shot as a Spartan: a three, and an air ball.
“I can’t believe the kid shot an air ball the first time," Tom Izzo said. "I mean I have to admit it, it was cool. It was cool … In warm-ups he shot an air ball about three feet short. I told him basketball’s like golf. If it doesn’t get there it has no chance to get in, so this one he listened to his coach and shot it three feet long.
“It was fun. I appreciate the fans, the students, but I really appreciate my teammates. That was probably his chance for the year, he’ll probably redshirt or green shirt or some shirt, so he got in the books and I felt good about that for him.”
But Steven Izzo would get one more chance. With 30 seconds left, he was fouled, putting him at the line for a one and one.
The crowd erupted. The bench stood up, his teammates yelled words of encouragement, Izzo locked in to the hoop, while also thinking about his dad.
“He always gets on me for free throw shooting … We were shooting free throws yesterday and he was getting on me to just focus and take my time,” Steven said.
Izzo shot. The ball bounced up on the rim, as if was deciding whether it wanted to go in.
Izzo was on the board. He looked over at his dad and gave him a fist pump. His dad couldn’t help but get a little emotional.
“To see it hit the rim and then drop in, that was a good feeling,” Steven said.
“When I made the free throw, I looked over at my dad, gave him a little fist pump, and just to see how his reaction was. He had a little bit of tears in his eyes, but for the most part he was just happy for me.”
His teammates were proud too, and Steven Izzo couldn’t have been more grateful.
“There were guys that gave up some of their playing time for me to get in for those last two minutes. It was amazing," Steven said. "Obviously I appreciate everything they did, with saying they were comfortable with me going in."
“They have my support and it was amazing for them to support me in that moment and just cheer me on, so I’m glad that they allowed that to happen.”
Tom Izzo has missed out on a lot of family moments over his tenure at Michigan State. He said he missed most of Steven’s basketball games and other family events. For Steven Izzo to get this moment was special for him, and something that he and his father will probably never forget.
“To go out there and hit that free throw was amazing. Just to get my first points was awesome,” Steven said.