Izzo was unsure about the status of senior forward Malik Hall’s injury following the Purdue game, but Tuesday he said that the specialist was optimistic and believes Hall’s ankle is healing, and seems similar to sophomore guard Jaden Akins’s ankle injury earlier in the season.
"There’s light at the end of the tunnel," Izzo said.
Despite the good news, Izzo is unsure what Hall’s recovery window looks like and when he’ll be back on the floor. Without the help of an experienced two-way player like Hall, Izzo said he needs to see more from sophomore guard Pierre Brooks II.
"Pierre Brooks is a very very good player if you ask me," Izzo said. "And yet he doesn’t always do the things that would put him in the position to be a very very good player."
Izzo said Brooks is an impressive shooter but needs to improve offensively and more so as a defender to be able to efficiently play the three and the four spot. He also added that Brooks was in his best shape this summer, and needs to get back to that point in order to start making larger contributions to the team.
Michigan State's bigs are another aspect of his team that he needs more from, especially against teams where playing big is vital, including Rutgers.
Junior guard A.J. Hoggard has shown improvements in terms of leadership, especially during Monday’s game.
In the first five minutes against Purdue, Izzo pulled Hoggard aside and said he needed to make necessary adjustments or he was going to have to sit him. Hoggard tweaked his game in order to take charge, that’s where Izzo saw growth.
"In the second half there were a couple times he came over and said, hey coach I'm going to run this team I got this," Izzo said. "I saw mountains of growth, mountains," Izzo said.
Izzo said that while Hoggard’s still got a ways to go, he’s proud of what he’s saw.
“Moment’s like that are worth millions to me,” Izzo said.
Izzo wrapped up his media availability by talking about former special assistant to the head coach and friend, Mike Garland. Garland was involved in a car accident after suffering a medical episode shortly after his retirement and was saved by first responders. During Thursday’s game, Garland and the first responders who came together to save his life will be honored.
“Those guys responded and saved his life, legitimate heroes,” Izzo said.
Izzo spoke about the first responders that teamed up in response to Garland’s accident, their significance and the miracle they worked to achieve.
“Now it might not mean the same to you, but it sure would be if it was your father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, child or your best friend,” Izzo said. “For me, it was the last one, one of my few best friends.”
Michigan State will return to its home floor on Thursday night to take on Rutgers, a team that took down Purdue just last week. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.