March 27, 2012

A new standard for chemistry, leadership

EAST LANSING - Michigan State's loss to Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen should not lessen the significance of a special basketball season according to Spartan head coach Tom Izzo who put the 2011-2012 season in perspective during his final press conference on Tuesday.

"As a coach, I do know that they gave everything that they had to give," said Izzo. "Whenever I speak corporately, or anywhere else I will be able to use this team and that was one of Draymond (Green) and Austin's (Thornton) dreams. That I quit talking about certain teams and start talking about new teams.

"This team is something a lot of people should look at and realize that talent isn't the only thing. You've got to have chemistry. Chemistry may be a talent in itself. It might be like a 7-foot center or a great point guard. It is very important to have no matter what you are trying to accomplish."

Michigan State has long been a team that others try to emulate in terms of toughness, defense and rebounding. Izzo also hopes that his team can become an example of overachieving through great chemistry and unselfishness.

"I am hoping that we become the team that all of the high schools point to and say if you just do this, this, and this, you can become this," said Izzo. "We did it as a team and we did it as individual players."

Losing seniors Austin Thornton and Draymond Green creates a sizable void in leadership at the player level. But Izzo and his staff are determined to keep leadership and chemistry as a strength of the Spartan basketball team.

"We are going to vote on our captains early and then we are going to see who lives up to the responsibility that that rank gives them," said Izzo. "And then we are going to vote on it again before we go home and that will be our captain ... I let Draymond and Austin know that they still have a lot of work to do before they leave here. I want to make sure that baton is passed and that torch is lit so not only that those guys know what to do, but that they start doing it."

Izzo believes his incoming recruiting class of Gary Harris, Denzel Valentine, Kenny Kaminski and Matt Costello provide a good foundation for future success.

"We think we have an incredible class coming in both academically and athletically," Izzo said. "We got a big guy (Costello) which is something that we needed, we got a shooter (Kaminski) which is something we needed. We got an athlete (Harris) which is something that we needed and we got an incredible passer (Valentine). If I don't screw them up we might have a chance to be pretty good next year. And yet the league will interesting. It will be interesting to see who stays, who goes, if guys are leaving early or not."



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