Monday, September 27, 2021

Tale of 2 sons: Steven Izzo and Antoine Davis

December 5, 2020
Sophomore guard Steven Izzo (13) looks around during the game against the Detroit Titans on Dec. 4, 2020 at the Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Titans, 83-76.
Sophomore guard Steven Izzo (13) looks around during the game against the Detroit Titans on Dec. 4, 2020 at the Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Titans, 83-76. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

What's it like, having your dad screaming at you to do better, while simultaneously (and probably quietly) cheering you on, from the sidelines rather than the bleachers?

Well, Michigan State sophomore guard Steven Izzo and Detroit Mercy junior guard Antoine Davis can tell you.

It's funny, Mike Davis said. Antoine's first college choice was MSU. Head coach Tom Izzo and associate head coach Dane Fife are synonymous with idols for the young athlete.

"The first time I introduced him to coach Izzo, it's a funny story," Mike Davis said. "Izzo met him, said hello and said, 'hey I heard you're a good player,' and then when we walked out, (Antoine) said, 'dad, he didn't even offer me a scholarship!' and I said, 'he's never even seen you play!'"

MSU graduate student guard Joshua Langford and Antoine Davis are also well-aquainted childhood friends. Mike Davis said the pair would often come down and stay with him in the summertime when he resided in Houston.

"... (Langford's) like a third son," Mike Davis said.

Originally, Antoine Davis signed to play for the University of Houston, and in his mind he was going to play for his dad at Texas Southern University.

"You'll always love coaching your kids," Mike Davis said following Detroit Mercy's 83-76 loss to MSU Friday. "He's got really good players playing with him this year, really good guys, so everything has to be more of a team type of deal for him."

However, Mike Davis wanted a change. He wanted to start a new program and that's when they found Detroit, ready to be turned around.

And turn around they did.

"It's nice knowing ... we're going to do this together," Antoine Davis said.

It's not unusual for the Titans to have a family connection in the program. The Davis trio – Mike, Antoine and assistant coach Mike Davis Jr. – have made a name for themselves in just three short seasons as Titans.

Last night alone, Antoine Davis played for 38 of the 40 minutes. He scored a total of 24 points, a game-high among all players, going 0-for-9 from the arc and 10-for-26 from the field. He also tallied four assists.

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"I like (having my dad as my coach) a lot, I always have. It's different, it's not as different as it was," Antoine Davis said on the team's bus ride home last night. "My freshman year was a little bit difficult, we were still trying to learn how to connect with each other on the court."

The father-son, coach-player, dynamic, is something that all teams share, regardless of literal bloodline.

Steven Izzo got to share his first heartfelt moment with his dad Oct. 29, 2019, in the Spartans victory against Albion College.

Steven Izzo didn't play in last night's game. He hasn't been out on the court much this season aside from two late minutes in the Eastern Michigan and Notre Dame matchups, but everybody knows who he is – you'd have to live under a rock to not.

That might be because Tom Izzo is a, "pick with your head, not your heart" type of man, as he had told 12-year-old Steven Izzo years ago when Steven asked whether to pick No. 3 MSU or No. 2 Duke in his 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket.

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There's no advantages to having your dad screaming at you to do better, while simultaneously (and probably quietly) cheering you on, from the sidelines rather than the bleachers.

There is no 'I' in 'team' for a reason. Shared last names don't mean anything more than that. Again, family is family, regardless of literal bloodline.

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