Izzo defined by excellence as he approaches 400th win
Anyone who has any affiliation with Michigan State knows one simple truth: Tom Izzo is king.
Seemingly made for coaching a college program of such prestige as MSU, the incomparable Izzo sits on 399 career wins.
And if Michigan State takes down Minnesota tonight, the king will have hit another milestone in his reign of excellence.
It has been just less than four years since Izzo won his 300th game on Feb. 25, 2008. In that time he has accomplished more than many coaches do in their careers.
Izzo racked up 11 NCAA Tournament wins in his past 99, taking the Spartans to two Final Fours and one National Championship Game appearance.
Forty five of the wins came in Big Ten conference play along the way to two conference championships.
He is just that good. But what separates Izzo from his peers is simple: He never holds back in any capacity and invests himself fully into Michigan State University.
A couple months ago, Izzo and his wife donated $1 million to the football program. In the past month, Izzo has twice called out the student section bearing his name — which clearly was made for this. He pushes his players with the intensity of a female Black Friday shopper at 6 a.m., in games and in practices.
He strives for excellence at every turn. In every little detail, he not only expects excellence — he demands it. But through it, he gives people the opportunity to be better.
The basketball team’s graduation rate is 82 percent — well above the national average of 68 percent. He is not one to recruit the one-and-done type of player, while the vast majority of his peers (this one’s for you Thad Matta) could care less about the long-term decisions of a recruit as long as it serves to increase his win count and job profile.
This is a coach who can sit and say to any high school player thinking of coming to Michigan State, “If you stay for four years, you WILL play in a Final Four,” because every such player has and those are just the players he wants.
Sure, that means he has plenty of success. Undoubtedly, it indicates his ability to get the most out of his players. But above all, it reflects his commitment to the players in the program he leads.
That is why this past weekend, which was Spartan basketball alumni weekend, Izzo hosted more than 100 former Michigan State basketball players at his house. Players from the 1940’s all the way to the current team gathered as one, because they are united as Spartans and united by Izzo.
He is a man who stands for the family environment and supporting one another. He is a man who cares more for the collective whole, than himself as an individual.
“I enjoy that probably more than hanging a banner,” Izzo said this week. “Being with the guys that have built this place.”
While those players from decades ago might have build a foundation for the present program, no one could debate Izzo is the one who has truly built Michigan State basketball to the powerhouse it is today.
It’s little wonder why he is the face of Michigan State, the king of the school and one of the best in the nation.
Simply put: Excellence emanates from Izzo.
So for our beloved Spartans coach, he has racked up 399 wins at such a great institution through his dedication to helping his players learn life lessons along the way to being men.
Now, the students in the Izzone and the players on the court — both of them pushed by Izzo to be the best they can be — have a chance to bring him to yet another milestone, his 400th win.
Here’s to many more.