Saturday, March 29, 2014

Is this Tom Izzo's best coaching job?

When a coach has won a national title, been to the Final Four six times, won seven regular season Big Ten titles and four conference tournament championships, it's difficult to put one season above others when it comes to the best.
But a month ago, who would have thought MSU would be in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament? Perception was the Spartans were done. Then they went from being the outsider to the trendy pick to win the national championship.
Izzo: This season is turning out amazingly well
One way or another, the Spartans have responded well to the rash of injuries that hindered them this season. Michigan is in the Elite Eight, so the Spartans' victory over the Wolverines in the Big Ten Championship game is growing in cache by the day. Virginia was a No.1 seed, which did play well against the Spartans in the Sweet 16. Michigan State just beat the ACC regular season and conference tournament winner.
Think of all the really top-line programs that aren't in the Elite Eight? Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Syracuse. It's been an impressive run for Izzo, who is more than living up to his longstanding reputation for getting his team prepped perfectly for March Madness.
Now he has done this before with underdog entries. Two of his Final Four teams, in 2005 and 2010, were fifth seeds.
This is from a fourth seed, a team which was drilled late in the season by Illinois, and beaten on the road by an Ohio State team, which didn't do well in the postseason.
Branden Dawson is turning into the classic MSU player. What a great comeback he has had from an unfortunate hand injury. Adreian Payne's foot woes seem like a distant memory.
A couple of Izzo's Final Four teams with Draymond Green did just kind of keep moving on when it wasn't expected.
Izzo's first Final Four team in 1999 came before MSU had established itself as a power, although was a top seed.
And it's true, when this season started, the Spartans were in the Top Three in the minds of virtually everybody nationally.
But the injuries and the Spartans poor play late in the regular season were much to overcome.
Some people, especially Michigan fans, sometimes tire of praise for Izzo.
Yet, it's difficult to knock the guy. The proof why is evident again this March. The guy is Mr. March.

My column: Michigan doesn't owe anyone an apology despite near collapse vs. Tennessee:


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