With a trip to the Final Four on the line—and a Tennessee player on it as well—the Michigan State Spartans were in a position to which they were accustomed.
After all, the Spartans’ previous three games were won by the tiniest of margins.
It took a lane violation against New Mexico State, a buzzer-beater against Maryland, and a strong second half against Northern Iowa to get to this point.
It wasn’t newly discovered territory; it was home sweet home.
As the Volunteers’ Scotty Hopson clanked the second free throw, none other than the “Dancing Bear” himself—Draymond Green—carried the ball up the floor with seconds feeling like week-long moments. You could hear the 24 -like ticking in your head.
As Tennessee was confused in transition, Green found an open Raymar Morgan. He was fouled with 1.8 seconds remaining. The first free throw was as good as an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the waning moments of a Super Bowl. A last-second heave to win the game was short-armed by the excessively-saluting J.P. Prince.
Michigan State had done it again. The dream is alive, Izzo is widely thought of as not being a mortal, and a return to the Final Four is that much more impressive as the team’s best player, Kalin Lucas, continues to watch from the bench in a sweat suit.
This is nothing new, folks. It is Izzo at his finest, again and again—and his team continues to feed off of his energy.
As you look at Izzo—a master of his craft, a true “Michigan man” to his core—you see a part of him in all of his players. He is such a tenacious competitor one would believe he would ditch his suit, lace up his sneakers, and jump in to play if he could. It is the true definition of coaching.
Gritty, physical defense and team basketball have been staples of Izzo’s tenure in East Lansing, and it continues to lead to Final Four berths and amazing opportunities. It is a testament to how much he cares for his players and the amount of planning he puts into every contest.
Now, everyone seems to have jumped on the Izzo bandwagon. But me, I’ve been on it the entire time.