Three. Two. One.
Sound the horn, and cue up the end of Michigan State’s incredible basketball season.
The buzzer at the end of the loss to Louisville during March Madness meant the end for a season that had too many question marks over it. After a season filled with big wins, titles and banners, the Spartans found themselves in a locker room overflowing with heartbreak, tears and disappointment.
Before the season no one knew what to think of the unranked Spartans, but in the somber Phoenix locker room freshman Travis Trice knew exactly what he doesn’t want in any future season.
“I don’t want to feel that feeling ever again,” said the up and coming point guard. “It’s a sour feeling, one that you don’t want to feel ever again.”
But first, let’s take a few steps back. Let’s rewind this story back to a time where Trice was just stepping foot onto East Lansing’s soil as a student athlete.
Now usually when a freshman walks into college they are uncertain on what to expect, but that simply wasn’t the case for the baller who was just crowned Ohio’s Gatorade Player of the Year. He built a plan with his mind set on the hardwood of the Breslin Center.
“I just wanted to come here and play a lot” said Trice. “All I care about is winning, and I wanted to help my team do just that.”
In his first college game that was on land and not an aircraft carrier, Trice dropped seven points off the bench in the Madison Square Garden against Duke. Talk about an initiation to college hoops. The young season started to look promising, but then the bad breaks started to make their visits to Trice.
First it was a sprained ankle in late January, and then a groin injury in mid-February sidelined Trice for the better half of Big Ten play. Even when he was able to suit up at the end of the season the guard played like a true Spartan, battling through injuries so he could help his team do what he cares most about: win.
But fighting through injuries is hardly anything new to the Trice family name. His father and former coach, Travis Trice Sr., was bogged down by injuries when he was trying to make a career out of hoops.
“He went through these kinds of injuries before he went overseas to Australia to play pro hoops,” explained Trice. “He just told me to make sure I cheer my teammates on, encourage people, and stay in it mentally so you won’t tap out.”
Even Trice admits that it was a challenge staying in sync with the season mentally, but having his dad and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo at his side didn’t hurt either.
“[Coach Izzo said] you just got to stay focused and keep your head in it,” said Trice, “as soon you get distracted that is when you lose your focus.”
That’s when Trice started to turn this damper on his freshman season into a bright spot. While nursing his injury on the bench Trice said that he got to watch the game from “a coach’s view” and dissect the game from a different perspective.
Does a player with a coach’s perspective remind you of anyone recent? Perhaps someone Green that wore the number ‘23’?
Trice noted that he talks to his parents every day, and in the day time he chats with his old man in father-son mode, but after a game it switches to player-coach.
“[After games he would tell] me what I did wrong, told me what I need to work on,” explained Trice, “but we have that type of relationship where we can separate him being a dad and coach.”
Having Tom Izzo and your dad coaching you at the same time? Sound like double the coaching, double the lessons, and double the fun for any Spartan fan that will watch Trice in the upcoming seasons.
Even in the hard times of his highly anticipated freshman season, Trice made sure that he continued to grow as a player, even from the bench when he was wearing a protective boot instead of his Nikes.
Now let’s fast forward to this summer where a healthy Trice will be working on his grocery list of goals he has made for himself. Knocking down open shots, getting bigger, and being a team leader are just a few points of focus for the summer, but the biggest goal he has is to win a national championship.
That’s right, Trice is talking owning March Madness even in the summer heat.
Hey, what else do you expect from a kid who just wants to win?