January 25, 2010

Izzo still motivated by in-state rival

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo frequently reminds his players about carving their own place into Spartan basketball history. The 2009-2010 Spartans can put a footprint in the sand with a win at Michigan tomorrow. If the Spartans manage to win on the road, they will surpass the 1977-1978 Spartans in terms of best start in Big Ten play.

This year's squad tied their predecessors at 7-0 in league play with a dramatic win at Minnesota Saturday. They will need a similar effort against the Wolverines, whose already faint postseason hopes will all but disappear with a loss to their in-state rivals.

Izzo has won 16 of his last 19 games against Michigan. That type of success led to questions from members of the media who wondered if Izzo was motivated and passionate about playing his in-state rival as was at the beginning of his coaching career when he was being dogged for starting out 0-5 against the Wolverines.

Izzo said that he had millions of reasons to be motivated against the Wolverines. Among those reasons, explained Izzo, were the thousands of Michigan State alumni who want bragging rights at the water cooler.

When he was asked about junior Manny Harris, Izzo said that he respected John Beilein's discretion when it came to issues of discipline within his program. Izzo then said that he fully expected Harris to play and that his team would be prepared for his presence on the floor. Izzo had a number of positive things to say about Harris and senior forward DeShawn Sims, who is playing his best basketball as the Big Ten schedule approaches the halfway point.

VIDEO: IZZO TALKS RIVALRY

If you are unable to watch the video embedded in the story above, click on the link below to watch Izzo's press conference.




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