Tom Izzo/Cleveland Cavaliers Dance Could be an Extended One

Izzo-watch Day 4 developments:

  • Mark Hollis is hoping for a decision by July 1--although he's (obviously) not setting a deadline.  It's hard to see the Cavaliers waiting that long to make a hire, but given that Hollis spent time with Tom Izzo this morning, I'm going to assume he's setting a reasonable timeframe based on what he's hearing from Izzo.
  • Izzo met with the team.  That seems like a signal there's not going to be a decision either way in the next 24-48 hours.  Otherwise, he would have waited to tell them what the decision is.
  • Hollis says that, if Izzo leaves, he'll move "swiftly" to hire a new coach.  I think that's more a statement of reality, given how far we are in to the college basketball offseason, than it is a signal that he'd immediately call Brian Gregory and offer him the job.

Elsewhere, Lynn Henning has a piece up telling MSU fans not to fret about replacing Izzo.  (Sarcastic aside from my Twitter feed that doesn't apply to Henning, who writes about MSU on a fairly regular basis:  I'm glad to see all the Detroit columnists who normally only write about MSU basketball in March are on the Izzo/Cavs case. Indispensable insights.)

While I agree with Henning that MSU would be in as strong a position to hire a coach as its ever been in for either major sport, I don't think you can understate the potential negative impact on the outlook for the program over the next 10 years or so (the presumed length of Izzo's continued tenure if he stays).  Tom Izzo IS Michigan State basketball.  In table form:

Pre-Izzo Izzo Total
Seasons (since joining Big Ten) 45 15 60
Big Ten Championships 6 6 12
NCAA Appearances 11 13 24
Sweet Sixteens 6 9 15
Final Fours 2 6 8

 

In accumulating all those achievements, Izzo has certainly boosted MSU's national profile, but MSU is still not a North Carolina, Kansas, or Kentucky--schools with the kinds of reps/resources that have allowed new coaches to come in and recruit top-ten classes right off the bat.  The MSU basketball program is built on Tom Izzo's ability to take very good, but not great, recruiting talent and turn it into cohesive, nationally-contending teams.  Could Gregory or Jim Boylen or Brad Stevens or Jamie Dixon do that?  Yes.  But almost certainly not with the consistency that Izzo has.  (To be fair, Izzo may not be able to continue to do it at the level that Izzo has.)

Anyway, my point is that this is definitely worth freaking out over.  And we may well be freaking out over it for another week, or two, or three.

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