Izzo does it again in March

Embed from Getty Images

Death. Taxes. Tom Izzo in March.

The longest tenured coach in the Big Ten, Izzo is once again back in the Final Four, looking for his second national championship. His track record of success in the postseason is one that has been marveled as Michigan State arrives in Indianapolis this week.

Izzo has had an illustrious career, with 7 conference championships, 4 conference tourney wins, 18 NCAA appearances, 7 Final Fours, and that aforementioned national title. He has a chance to add to those totals this week, but he’ll have to get through Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke team first on Saturday night.

Playing & Coaching Career

Izzo played college ball at Northern Michigan University, where he set a record for minutes played, and was named a Division II All-American. After his graduation, he became Head Coach for Ishpeming High School in Marquette, Michigan, before taking an assistant coaching job at his alma mater. After 4 years, he became assistant coach at Michigan State. He has a brief two month stay at the University of Tulsa before returning to Michigan State and being elevated to associate head coach. Following HC Jed Heathcote’s retirement, Izzo was selected as the Head Coach.

Izzo is now the longest tenured basketball coach in the Big Ten conference, and has served his team well. Here’s some of his highlights:

  • 1998-1999: Izzo’s team has a 13-3 in conference and wins the Big Ten Championship. This year also began Michigan State’s current streak of 18 straight NCAA tourney appearances, the third longest active one.
  • 1999-2000: MSU wins the first of Izzo’s four Big Ten Tournament titles, and advances to the Final Four for the first of 3 straight appearances.
  • 2000-2001:Izzo wins his first National Championship, defeating the Florida Gators 89-76.
  • 2008-2009:Michigan State falls short in the National Championship game, losing to North Carolina 89-72.

Coaching Philosophy

Izzo’s known motto is “Players play — Tough players win.”, and the way he coaches his teams reflects that. With tough, physical guard play and a focus on getting the players involved in the coaching process, Izzo produces some of the smartest ball players in the game.

NBA Selections

  • Jamie Feick (1996) – 48th pick
  • Mateen Cleaves (2000) – 14th pick
  • Morris Peterson (2000) – 21st pick
  • Jason Richardson (2001) – 5th pick
  • Zach Randolph (2001) – 19th pick
  • Andre Hutson (2001) – 51st pick
  • Charlie Bell (2001) – Undrafted
  • Marcus Taylor (2002) – 52nd pick
  • Erazam Lorbek (2005) – 46th pick
  • Alan Anderson (2005) – Undrafted
  • Shannon Brown (2006) – 25th pick
  • Mauric Ager (2006) – 28th pick
  • Paul Davis (2006) – 34th pick
  • Goran Suton (2009) – 50th pick
  • Draymond Green (2012) – 35th pick
  • Adreian Payne (2014) – 15th pick
  • Gary Harris (2014) – 19th pick
  • Kalin Lucas (2014) – Undrafted

Coaching Tree

Izzo has had seven assistants go on to be Head Coaches at other universities and colleges, including three still active:

  • Tom Crean, Indiana University
  • Brian Gregory, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Mark Montgomery, Northern Illinois University



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s