Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo has never been one to shy away from competition, but even he knows there has to be some sort of limits. This year’s schedule for the Spartans will test those limits.
Izzo spoke with area media for nearly 30 minutes Friday morning on the first day of practice. While he’s excited about his team, including the freshman class of Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Nick Ward and Miles Bridges, he is wary about what lies ahead for it.
“The schedule is a concern,” Izzo said. “I think they figured out 13,000 miles in 18 or 19 days. I don’t know who’s done that, from the NBA to anybody. It just worked out that way. It’s not necessarily a huge positive.”
Michigan State’s pre-Thanksgiving schedule includes a one-game trip to Hawaii to play Arizona, followed four days later with a game against Kentucky in New York and before heading to the Bahamas a week later for three games in the three days in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The Spartans will face St. John’s on the first day, with the possibility of games against Baylor, Virginia Commonwealth, Louisville, LSU and/or Wichita State over the next two days.
“I know one thing, by a little after Turkey Day, we’re gonna have a little clue on – I’m not sure we’ll have a clue where we are, because there’s gonna be so many big games, but we’ll have a clue of what we gotta get better at and what we gotta work on,” Izzo said. “I still think that’s the bottom line of the preseason for Michigan State. For other schools, it’s different. Everybody’s got their own way of doing it.”
Izzo said guard Matt McQuaid and forwards Ben Carter and Kenny Goins should all be healthy to start the season. Goins and Carter, a graduate transfer from UNLV, are coming off of knee injuries while McQuaid had a double sports hernia surgery last June.
The Big Ten conference schedule begins on Dec. 27 at Minnesota.
“The learning, as they say, is under fire,” Izzo said. “There will be no learning. That is the one negative of the way this schedule panned out. It was nobody’s fault. That’s just the way it worked.
“I’m going to tell you the reality of this: We are in for the most brutal 20 days in the history of Michigan State basketball. Period. When you look at travel, teams played and youth. Those three things.
“The exciting part is as those guys say to me every time I get a little paranoid about get your rest now because you won’t get it later. Don’t miss class now because you’re going to be gone a lot later. They keep reminding me that’s why they came. We’ll see if they feel that way seven games in.”