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Vol. 46, No. 3 • April 2009 • .pdf version
Michigan State's Izzo is fitting Good Guy Award winner
This might be the first Final Four played at Ford Field, but it isn't the first college basketball game played at the immense domed facility in downtown Detroit.
The inaugural game was the BasketBowl game that Kentucky and Michigan State played not long after the place opened. The idea was to attract the largest crowd ever for a college basketball game.
They placed the court in the middle of the field and considered it a dry run for bringing future big-time college basketball events to the facility. They worked on the lighting, the seating, the sound. Everything seemed just right to Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo.
Except for one thing. Much of the media seating for the event was placed at the 88th level, about as close to the court as downtown Flint.
That won't work. That was Izzo's opinion. The folks covering the games need to be close to the action where they can hear every squeak of the sneakers, see every grimace and grin, smell all the courtside smells and interpret how the game unfolds.
So Izzo made certain that the press seating was moved down to courtside. T hat's not the only reason Tom Izzo deserves the Good Guy Award from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. But it's certainly a start.
Izzo understands that the media is a direct link between basketball programs and basketball fans. He knows that it is important that writers have legitimate access to coaches and players. He takes time to explain things. He doesn't sense a conspiracy behind every question.
Need an example? For the last two seasons, Izzo has accommodated folks who cover the Spartans with their own taste of Michigan State practice. They're invited to East Lansing for a 2-1/2 hour session. They're issued jerseys, they watch film, they run drills and they finish it off with a post-game meal.
I've been fortunate to cover teams coached by Denny Crum, Rick Pitino, Joe B. Hall, Eddie Sutton, Tubby Smith, Bob Knight and many others. Never had an offer like that. Most coaches these days put you behind the curtain and keep you there.
But I can believe that I zzo wants people to have a greater understanding of what he's trying to accomplish because I've watched film with him and his assistant coaches prior to several NCAA T ournament games.
Tom Izzo is more than simply a Good Guy. He's a guy who's good for the game of college basketball.
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