After disruption of MSU-Michigan, Tom Izzo pleads for greater Big Ten transparency with COVID-19

EAST LANSING — Disappointed and frustrated. That best sums up Tom Izzo’s feelings about the state of Michigan basketballThe rivalry game with Michigan will be postponed on Saturday.

Still, he also wants to make sure that the ninth-ranked Spartans can put those feelings behind them and focus on their next game Wednesday against Minnesota, the first game in a week to try and extend their eight-game winning streak after an unexpected weekend out.

How MSU will maintain that momentum, Izzo said at his weekly press conference Monday, is “a million dollar question.” And it starts with leaving the aborted Ann Arbor journey in the past.

“I think we did just that,” he said. “We released them on Saturday and said, ‘Hey, listen, this is going to happen. It could happen again next week, it could happen the week after.’ These are the cards you’ll be dealt, and whoever handles adversity the best will probably be the most successful, and I believe that.

“I said it’s hard for (Michigan’s) players, it’s hard for our players. And yet we had momentum. How do you keep the momentum going? You keep the momentum by worrying most about ourselves.”

READ: Freshmen MSU Have Found Key To Early Success: Playing Defense

ONLY 10 BOOKS ON: mr. March and 25 Years of Spartans Glory

Big Ten-leading MSU (13-2, 4-0) faces the Gophers for the second time this season on Wednesday (10-3, 1-3). Tip-off is 7 p.m at Breslin Center (BTN). The Spartans won their conference opener December 8 in Minnesota, 75-67.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo during action against Penn State, Saturday, December 11, 2021, at Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo during action against Penn State, Saturday, December 11, 2021, at Breslin Center in East Lansing.

However, they didn’t get a chance to play their first of two games for this month against the Wolverines, despite going through a shootaround Friday night at Crisler Center. Izzo said UM coach Juwan Howard called him around 10:45 PM that evening to inform him that the game was being postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Wolverines program, followed by a call from MSU athletic director Alan Haller to further clarify the situation. explain.

Izzo called his phone call with Howard “classy and good” and called for greater transparency in the league about potential COVID issues with players and staff who may not have been vaccinated, the risks involved and the possibility of disruptions. He reiterated that his Spartans have all been vaccinated and given their boosters.

“It’s a difficult situation for everyone,” Izzo said. “I mean, hard for them, I’m sure they had a big crowd. We had people flying in for the match, it’s tough for them. It’s hard for us. But it’s the hardest – and I think everyone should understand this – the hardest for the players. Every time you get a sniff, you wonder if you have COVID. And that is difficult. … I only think administratively that we should have more clarity about everything.”

Michigan released a statement around 6:45 a.m. Saturday that the Wolverines “fell below the Big Ten Conference roster minimum, with fewer than seven stock players available.” The programs will be coordinated with the Big Ten Conference office to reschedule the game, according to releases from both schools, and UM announced that the home game scheduled for Tuesday against No. 5 Purdue was also postponed.

“If it’s your rivalry, everyone is more disappointed,” Izzo said. “It was a high that you built towards, a crescendo. And then all of a sudden there’s no game anymore.”

TIMELINE: Why Michigan has seemingly postponed its game against Michigan State overnight?

LAKE: Michigan State rises one spot to number 9 in new coaches poll

Izzo said he gave his players off on Saturday after they made the return bus trip back to campus, gathering them Sunday on what would have been their day off to prepare for Minnesota. It was the Spartans’ first COVID disruption this season, and the first since the first of two UM/MSU games was postponed to Feb. 6, 2021. The Spartans and Wolverines played a home-and-home match at the end in a span of three years. four days into the regular season, March 1 and 4, the pair split.

UM also canceled three conference games last season because its athletics division closed when several other programs had multiple positive tests, but none within the men’s basketball program. No other Big Ten team has played fewer than 19 games and Howard’s team won the regular season Big Ten title with a 14-3 record.

Saturday’s MSU-Michigan game has not yet been rescheduled and Izzo expressed concerns about whether it will be played because the Big Ten did not build on time this season as they did last year in the event of COVID disruption. MSU had 20 days off and postponed three games last January due to a teamwide breakout, but played all 20 Big Ten games. The Spartans’ Big Ten/ACC Challenge game in Virginia was swept and not made up in December 2020, after they traveled to Charlottesville to have the Cavaliers cancel due to their own COVID problems.

“I’m going to play every game I can,” Izzo said on Monday. “I said that last year – we got 17 days off and played three days after we started practicing and busted our brains for three games. But I still hope we all play every game we can. If we don’t have enough players, if it happens to us and we only have five players left or whatever situations there are in different schools then we don’t play either, but if we can, i’ll play.

“I don’t know how they plan this, but it’s going to be difficult.”

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Learn more about the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: MSU’s Tom Izzo Advocates Big Ten Transparency on COVID-19

Give a Comment