Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo is known for his winning ways on the court, but his career has been about more than winning basketball games. The statistics are impressive, with Izzo taking home one national title and eight Big Ten Championships. Appearing in the NCAA Final Four on ten occasions will get a coach, and their program, noticed.
However, the ability to connect with his players and maintain his integrity are among the most impressive traits of Coach Izzo.
Several key phrases help fans and fellow coaches understand the leadership style of Coach Tom Izzo. The most important phrase for the Spartans coaches is honesty and integrity. The openness to be real with his players sets Izzo apart in a sport where coaches and parents tell players what they want to hear instead of what they need to know. Tom Izzo is brutally honest with his players, according to his fellow coaches.
Maintaining his integrity has become key to his success as a leader throughout Michigan. Along with turning down the advances of LeBron James to join the NBA, Izzo has worked to raise awareness about the water issues in Flint.
Talent is critical in the world of basketball, with college players hoping for a speedy move to the NBA. Coach Izzo provides a different view of college life and the draw of the NBA. The Spartans coach explains that playing in the NBA is different from maintaining an NBA career.
Izzo’s most famous alumni is Draymond Green, who remained with the Spartans for four years despite constant calls from the NBA. Green is one of the players who benefitted from Izzo’s love of players from different sports with a willingness to adapt to several positions.
Within the Michigan State Spartans program, it is well known that the team comes above all else. For Tom Izzo, the team should be the most important aspect of the basketball program in a sport where individual stars have become the norm. Izzo understands his program does not attract the top individual superstars of high school basketball, who tend to move to Duke and North Carolina.
What Izzo offers is the chance to learn and develop as a player and a person. His open-door policy continues after players move onto the NBA or a career of their choice.
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