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March 2, 2012

Izzo: 'It doesn't get any better than this'

EAST LANSING - Thursday wasn't a normal day on the job for Tom Izzo.

"The first thing I did when I walked in here today for practice was look up at the banners," Izzo said. "I just want to put another banner up here."

The Spartans have already clinched the ability to do so, having earned at least a share of the 2012 regular season Big Ten championship.

On Sunday, the Spartans will get their second chance to secure the outright title. Michigan State squandered its first chance, in losing at Indiana on Tuesday.

Now, MSU has a chance to stand alone as the regular season champ - in a league which places more emphasis and appreciation on the 10-week test rather than the one-weekend conference tournament - and clinch it against Ohio State, the overwhelming preseason favorite. Meanwhile, OSU has a chance to clinch a share with MSU by winning.

"It just doesn't get any better than this," Izzo said.

For a home game, he's right. MSU has a chance to honor seniors Draymond Green and Austin Thornton, who have been a part of three Big Ten title teams, plus rookie senior Brandon Wood and highly-popular retired senior Delvon Roe.

MSU will conduct Senior Day festivities after Sunday's game against Ohio State. There are hopes, if MSU wins, that the post-game ceremonies will also include a championship banner raising ceremony. All done before a national television audience.

That's about as good a sendoff toward tournament time that a program can expect - provided that MSU beats Top 10-ranked Ohio State, which was the overwhelming preseason favorite to take the title.

"I have trouble sleeping at night," Izzo said.

In the meantime, Thursday was a heavy work day.

"Watching the (Indiana) film, we didn't play as good as we needed to play, for a million different reasons and some of it was Indiana, but I think we are going to start building now for what I consider a championship weekend."


Izzo Post-Practice Interview


Izzo has won six Big Ten titles before. But the sense of satisfaction seems to be as strong as ever.

"It's everything you want," Izzo said. "When you are a kid, you dream of making a 3-point shot to beat Duke. As a coach, you dream of putting your team in a position where you can share something special with them, with the fans, and that's what we have an opportunity to do.

"We have been here before and done it. And we have been here before and haven't done it. But the opportunity that presents itself, for a coach, for players, for fans, is the best opportunity you can have - last day, a chance to win a championship outright and hang another banner. That's what I thought my job was all about from the day I got it and we're in position to try to do it again."

Where's The Banner?

Michigan State is likely to have a 2012 Big Ten Champions banner ready for a post-game celebration, if indeed the outcome turns out to be a happy one for Michigan State.

But the banner won't be already in place in the rafters, as it was prior to a loss to Purdue at the end of the 1998 regular season. And it won't be tied up in the rafters, waiting to be unfurled after a victory over Wisconsin in 2004 - a victory which never took place. In both instances, game broadcast crews became aware of the banners and poked fun at Michigan State for being a bit overzealous with banner etiquette. In 1998, CBS color commentator Billy Packer used the telestrator to write the prefix "co" in front of the word "Champions" on the banner.

In '04, the embarrassment was richer as MSU never earned the right to hang the banner. The banner was promptly burned.

Izzo didn't make the decision on either front, but he took the brunt of hate mail from fans.

Izzo was so put off by fan reaction to those errors that when MSU went to the Final Four in 2005 the team held its banner-raising ceremony in private.

MSU has gone back to public banner raising ceremonies at the end of the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and raised Final Four banners for each of those seasons the following October at Midnight Madness.

As for this weekend: "I haven't talked to Mark Hollis about it. I think I've dialed down my anger over that one year (2004) because I still say that whenever you get a chance to do something special with the people, you should do it.

"And you know what? This has been an interesting year here with our fans. I thought we dialed it down a little bit early. And I made an ass of myself and said it, and got some letters, and got a lot of results. Like a lot of results. Like this place, I would be shocked if it isn't bedlam on Sunday, I don't care of students are here or grandmothers, it's going to be bedlam.

"So you kind of hope to share it with the people who helped you get it, and that's what I would like to do. But it won't be done early."

What About Roe?

Former Spartan Delvon Roe will receive his jersey in a frame during post-game Senior Day ceremonies. Izzo said Roe is probably going to be allowed by the NCAA to dress for the game and sit on the bench. He lost amateur status when receiving money to appear in movies as an actor. MSU did not petition the NCAA to grant Roe the ability to play a few seconds in the Ohio State game.

Roe retired from basketball in September after sustaining the latest in a series of knee injuries.

"The little things we have to figure out is if he can dress with us, or not. The NCAA has been great with us and my A.D. has done a good job, so we are just trying to put it all together and see what's best for Delvon and what's best for us.

"We know what we can do with him as far as the things that we wanted him to do. We are just petitioning for him to maybe be in uniform and on the bench and what we can do with him after the game or during the game during a time out or something. We have some things that we are talking to him about."

MSU fans can expect to see Roe in uniform, on the bench?

"Yeah, I'm hoping," Izzo said. "We're working on that. But I think that's going to go (through)."

Trice Lights It Up

Travis Trice was back in action for practice on Thursday and he enjoyed one of the better practices since his return from an ankle sprain, which he sustained during Michigan State's victory over Ohio State on Feb. 11.

Trice played eight minutes at Indiana on Tuesday, after getting a little bit of practice time in on Sunday and Monday.

After a day off on Wednesday, Trice showed a lot of improvement in an ankle that had been maddeningly sore for weeks. He shot well in practice on Thursday.


"Yeah, I saw what you saw," Izzo said. "And Keith (Appling) played better today.

"Number one, Trice is going to give Keith a little rest, and that's going to be important. And number two, we went back and watched the first game we played them (Ohio State) and we didn't realize how much Keith, Trice and Brandon Wood played together. We were going with that smaller lineup once in a while.

"He gives us versatility to do a lot of different things.

"The foot has been remarkable in the last three days. It's not back to where it was. And his conditioning, as he will tell you, is pretty poor. But the foot itself is pretty doggone good, so I'm pretty excited about that."












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