Tom Herzog is getting a second chance at the University of Central Florida. Or maybe, he's getting a first, since he saw limited minutes while at Michigan State and wasn't used to his full potential.
The "news" is nothing new to Spartan basketball fans. Herzog announced his decision May 5, but now the dust has settled, he was willing to answer a few more questions.
The 7-foot, 250-pound Flint native played in 44 games while under coach Tom Izzo in East Lansing, with just one start.
For Spartan fans, playing time didn't matter when it came to supporting Herzog. The fact that he stuck it out for three years, despite having numerous opportunities to take his career elsewhere, is what they found admirable.
The Breslin Center would erupt every time The 'Zog took the floor, as he quickly became a fan favorite his junior year.
"It felt great, you know?" Herzog said. "Especially me being someone not playing [much]. It was like ‘Hey, these guys made a sign for me.’ It was great they were willing to support me even though I wasn’t one of the team’s leading scorers. It said something about the Spartan fans. The one game I started I could definitely tell the support I had. I really appreciated that."
Herzog's marquee game, as far as stats are concerned, came as a junior on Nov. 28, 2009, in a 108-68 win over UMass. Herzog clocked in with 10 minutes, scored four points, and had four rebounds—three of which were offensive.
Herzog was described by his teammates as a workaholic. Coach Izzo was quoted as saying, "He works his butt off. He’s a great kid. He’s one of the few big men who has a passion for basketball..."
While standing-by for the likes of Goran Suton and Idong Ibok, Herzog said he matured as a player.
"I wish I would have got to play more, you know?" Herzog said. "It just never worked out for me. I don’t have any regrets. I always came to practice. During the offseason I worked as hard as anyone there to improve my game. I feel like I really became a good player there."
There were reports about Herzog's battles with anxiety during his career at MSU. After a stellar, record-setting career at Flint Powers High School, Herzog said he was a little anxious upon his arrival in East Lansing, but some of the later media reports about his condition weren't accurate.
"I think early in my career I did have an anxiety issue," Herzog said.
"Later in my career, especially this last year, it wasn’t a problem for me. It just didn’t work out for me. I don’t understand why. I still look upon my years there as good years because of the bonds I formed with my teammates and Coach Izzo."
Herzog is now looking ahead to finishing his degree, and achieving a personal goal of being a starting center on a Division I team. He will anchor the UCF Knights next season, and said he hopes his invaluable experience rubs off on his new teammates.
"At Michigan State, I learned how to be a better player," Herzog said. "I want to show that down here. It’s really my chance to show I can play. Up in Michigan, no one’s heard of Central Florida. We have a good team, and I think we’ll compete for the Conference USA championship..."
"It was amazing to go to one Final Four, but to get back there the next year made it that much better. Every college basketball player dreams of playing in the Final Four, and to be able to do that two years in a row makes it much more amazing. It’s something I’ll remember forever."
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