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February 27, 2012

Izzo: 'I get paid never to be satisfied'

EAST LANSING - Just minutes after learning that they had clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title, Tom Izzo and Draymond Green were on the same train of thought. They were pleased, but sought to manage the situation.

Green first heard that Ohio State had lost on Sunday evening from Derrick Nix, who had been watching the game in the training room. Green's first reaction was to remain calm.

"I just kept quiet," Green said. "I didn't want to say anything and guys get all excited and practice go down the drain."

After practice, Izzo brought the team together.

"We had a four-minute meeting after practice," Izzo said, "number one to congratulate them. And number two, to tell them they haven't done you-know-what yet. It was a compliment and a challenge."

It was the 13th Big Ten title in school history for Michigan State (24-5 and 13-3 overall). But there was no mention of it in the official men's basketball press release issued to media on Monday. Izzo even half-jokingly told reporters he didn't want them to ask players about the conference title during pre-game interviews.

"It was good to feel good about it for about five minutes, and then put it away," Izzo said. "I do not see any issue with our team thinking they accomplished something. Just not now. And if there is (a feeling of accomplishment), I sure as hell am going to beat it out of them."

Izzo is adjusting the short-term goals to focus on winning the outright Big Ten title. Michigan State needs a victory at Indiana on Tuesday or at home on Sunday against Ohio State in order for the Spartans to accomplish that.

It's Izzo's seventh Big Ten championship. It's the first one he has won while at practice, due to another team's loss.

"We want to earn something our way, the Michigan State way," Izzo said. "I told them, 'We can sit there and sit back and feel like we have accomplished something. It's not my style but I don't think it's yours either.'"

Izzo informed Draymond Green and Austin Thornton that they have a chance to be the first players in MSU history to be a part of two outright Big Ten championship teams.

"There have been six outright (Big Ten) championships in the history of your school and you can have (the team) approach that ... it's unbelievable," Izzo said. "And when you have Draymond and Austin do something that nobody has ever done here, and that's win two outright championships in their career ... we have so much to play for.

"I'm happy that there is going to be a banner hanging in that building; I would be happier if that banner would be by itself (as an outright title)."


RELATED: Izzo's Feb. 27 press conference

"It was good and it was okay," said of clinching at least a share of the title. "We have to make sure we keep talking about those footprints and those legacies.

"I would be happier if we keep improving as a team, because that's what you have to do to make a run in the tournament. I would be happy if Draymond Green and Austin Thornton accomplished something that nobody - NOBODY - at this institution has accomplished. So we have a new fight to fight and we are going to try to win that fight."

And some others along the way.

"We haven't had a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament since 2001," Izzo said. "That doesn't win you a National Championship, but it is a goal to try to achieve.

"So as I sat there to talk to my team to try to achieve things, I can think of 20 things that they haven't done very good yet.

"I had to think about what I was going to say to my team - because you don't want to be not excited about winning a Big Ten Championship, they don't grow on trees," Izzo said. "So I went through that part. And then I went through the part of worrying about everybody in the dorm patting them on the back, telling them they accomplished something. I didn't want to go that way. So I didn't really want to do either way. But I did kind of say to myself: Which would be better?

"And then I looked in the mirror and said: You know what? That's my job; that's what I get paid for. I get paid to make sure people understand you have bigger goals around here. Whenever you accomplish one, there should be another one. I get paid never to be satisfied. And I let the players know that. And I tell them, 'Those of you that are trying to please me, it ain't gonna happen.' At certain degrees it will, but if you think I'm going to be off your but till you leave here, you just came to the wrong place."





Trice Practiced; Nix Held Out

Freshman guard Travis Trice returned to practice for the first time in more than a week, Sunday evening. He has been out with an ankle injury, which he sustained during the victory at Ohio State on Feb. 11.

"He practiced a little bit," Izzo said. "A little bit. So is he out (for the Indiana game)? It's so day-to-day. It should be making more progress than it has been. Nobody knows why.

"I would say he is doubtful, doubtful, doubtful to play tomorrow. But maybe it's a little more intriguing that we could get him back soon down the road."

Izzo said Nix was held out of practice on Sunday due to a sprain in his arch.

"There is a little sprain in there, which is concerning," Izzo said. "He has been in treatment this morning. I am thinking he will practice some today (Monday). To what level, I don't know."

No. 3 All-Time

With seven conference titles, Izzo surpasses Gene Keady and moves into third place in Big Ten history. He trails only Purdue's Ward "Piggy" Lambert and Indiana's Bob Knight, each of whom won 11 Big Ten titles.

"I love Gene Keady," Izzo said. "I'm not Bob Knight; he has accomplished so much more.

"It's like DayDay; he is not Magic Johnson. But if you are talked about it in the same breath, that's a privilege. That's an honor. Maybe DayDay and I now can share something in each one of our progressions that I guess I will look back upon when my son has kids and then maybe I can enjoy them."





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