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Foster Loyer's season ended early, but he found himself on the sidelines coaching

March 25, 2021
<p>Junior guard Foster Loyer watches the team warm up on Feb. 23, 2021. Loyer was inactive as a player, but helped his team from the bench in the win.</p>

Junior guard Foster Loyer watches the team warm up on Feb. 23, 2021. Loyer was inactive as a player, but helped his team from the bench in the win.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

One month ago, Foster Loyer played what was to be his last game of the 2020-21 season against a then-No. 20 Purdue.

He scored no points and his feet only touched the court for a total of two minutes and his shoulder ached, it had for weeks.

He had injured his shoulder in early February and underwent surgery roughly two weeks ago, during the final stretches of the Spartans' regular season. Before that, he was keeping a seat warm on the sidelines, typically beside head coach Tom Izzo, and firing up his teammates

"It's been interesting since I've been out," Loyer said. "It's interesting being at a little bit different of a perspective, having a little bit of a different role within the team. ... But, at the same time, it has been hard not being out there, being able to play with them, my guys and my teammates, because we've put in so much work together."

Loyer is someone who is known more for his basketball IQ. He has a tremendous feel for the game intellectually and has made strides to gain momentum physically.

He grew up in a sports household, with Division I athletes as parents. His mother played volleyball for Indiana University and his father played basketball for the University of Akron before moving on to coach in the NBA and scout for the Los Angeles Clippers.

That's why when he went down with the injury, his new role was an easy transition.

Basketball has been his whole life: He recalled running up and down the courts at the local YMCA when he was only four or five. Competitive might as well be his middle name – he wants to be the best at what he does and he makes sure to put in the effort to hit that mark.

He was selected to be one of three captains for the Michigan State men's basketball team, alongside Joshua Langford and Aaron Henry, prior to this season by his teammates.

During his sophomore campaign, he appeared in all 31 games and finished with averages of 2.9 points, 0.9 assists and 0.5 rebounds in 7.5 minutes per game. As a junior, he finished seventh on the team overall with averages of 4.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game.

However, a game is more than numbers to Loyer and no matter how low the statistics might go, his passion will never die.

Even injured, he's making a positive impact on the team.

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Flashback to Feb. 23, the game against a then-No. 2 Illinois at the Breslin Center. It was that night when Loyer was spotted two different times giving advice and critiques to his teammates and their game plan.

The first time, he had stepped in the middle of a heated argument between Izzo and A.J. Hoggard, pulling the freshman to the side to calmly divulge strategy. Later that same night, he was seen seated beside Mady Sissoko, a whiteboard in hand, doing the same thing.

"Those guys, I think they do a great job with always looking to learn something new or to take someone's advice," Loyer said.

Behind the scenes, the team is close-knit, as you'd expect, Loyer said. Especially this year, in the COVID era, where they've been all but forced to do everything together.

"We've gotten to experience a lot of different things together, we've gotten to form friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime," Loyer said.

He plays the same position as MSU sophomore Rocket Watts, albeit with less assertiveness, he sees things that he might not sometimes from the sidelines.

"When you play the same position as someone, you see the things that they see out there on the court, it's also interesting to look at something you may have missed (from a different angle) that they can help you with," Loyer said.

This is Loyer's first season as a captain for the Spartans. However, he was also the captain of his high school basketball team, the Clarkston Wolves.

"Being a captain is an honor. It's an honor to represent such a prestigious and successful program," he said. "And, with that comes a lot of responsibility."

Holding each other accountable and keeping communication at its peak are two of the biggest jobs of a team captain.

Comparing his high school and collegiate careers, he said his leader persona and level of commitment are strikingly different.

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"In high school, you have a lot of different personalities, not everyone was strictly a basketball player. You had guys that were coming right out of football season, you had guys that might've been playing baseball or some in (middle) college (programs). What you had was a lot of guys who were all enduring basketball season, but at the same time it wasn't necessarily the most important thing to them day in and day out," Loyer said.

"In college, all 15 of our guys are putting every minute of every day of the whole year into basketball and being as successful as a team as we can be," he added.

As he goes through therapy and rehabilitation for his shoulder, Loyer isn't going to give up on his guys, not in the offseason even after a loss in the First Four to UCLA.

He plans to be there, on the bench, injured or able to play. It's just how he's wired.

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