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Tom Izzo's season review

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

So Tom Izzo held his season-ending press conference today. It's always really long, and he goes into a lot of topics, many of which he won't talk about during the season.

The most-pressing topic at the moment is obviously Adreian Payne and Garry Harris and their NBA futures. Izzo said he has been talking with NBA people on Payne, but not yet for Harris.

Harris could have shoulder surgery. If he does, it will be soon, and he'll be out a few months. That would likely affect his draft stock.

But as for Payne, Izzo had he has "no clue" what Payne will do. He'll talk with NBA people, but also high school coaches and other people he knows. Izzo pointed out Payne doesn't have many people around him in terms of family, so he's going to make sure Payne does what's best for himself. This comment was interesting, and probably true.

Every year people come out who probably shouldn't. Payne will get drafted if he leaves, but Izzo wants to make sure Payne has (or will have) what it takes to stay in the NBA, rather than just get drafted and wash out (like Paul Davis and Goran Suton after their senior years).

If Payne returns, Izzo says he'll stick at power forward, meaning Matt Costello and Alex Gauna will probably battle out for the center spot. Izzo even thinks Payne could play small forward. We heard this with Draymond Green, though, and that never really worked.

Payne isn't a complete player. His athleticism and outside shooting ability are what make him so appealing to the NBA, but he lacks any real post game, and still can get stronger. Izzo thinks some big, big things could be in store if he returns with that work ethic.

We won't hear from Izzo for a while, so we won't hear much of his thoughts on Harris. Based on everything out there, indications seem to be that Harris is coming back. Still, it's hard to pass up being a potential lottery pick, and you certainly wouldn't blame Harris for leaving. A decision on surgery will be made soon, especially with the NCAA's April 16 withdrawal date for those who declare.


As for the player we know is leaving, Derrick Nix certainly left a mark on Izzo.

All in all, I think the offense got a little roo reliant on him. He seemed to get over the hump as far as decision-making, but there were still problems with his game, and Duke exploited that.

Still, he came such a long way, and it was fun to watch him develop. I can't imagine him making an NBA team, but you never know. There would be nothing wrong with trying to make a career in Europe. Most importantly, he'll get his degree in the next month.


Moving forward, healing up will be the most important thing. Izzo talked a lot about injuries. Harris was dealing with shoulder and back problems all year, Branden Dawson missed all summer, but looked strong, though never fully confident coming off the ACL tear from last year and he may have suffered a head injury against Michigan, Travis Trice missed all summer with a mysterious virus and then games at two different times during the season with a head injury, Appling dealt with a shoulder injury in the final weeks of the season, Matt Costello dealt with a tailbone injury and missed the first few weeks of the season, Kenny Kaminski redshirted due to shoulder surgery and Payne suffered a back injury the Wednesday before the Duke game.


Regarding Trice and Dawson, they'll finally (hopefully) have a summer offseason to work on things.

Dawson can develop a shot and his handle, while Trice can work on his strength and being more than just a three-point shooter.

Izzo really, really liked Trice coming out of high school, and you could tell why with Trice's reaction after the Duke game.

That brings us to the Byrdman. He spurned the top schools in the country to come to MSU, but several foot surgeries prevented him from taking flight (get it?). He told Rexrode after the Duke loss that his foot still bothered him a bit, but said it's all mental right now. He was elected a captain by his teammates, and everyone wants to see him succeed. He seems driven to prove himself.


As for the future, Izzo was asked about recruiting. MSU has one commitment from power forward Gavin Schilling. Is Izzo looking for more in the class of 2013? He didn't say no, but it's no secret how MSU could make an incredible splash in 2014.


Some other loose ends:

Assistant coach Dane Fife's name is being floated around for the Ball State job. Fife knows the state of Indiana and had plenty of nice things to say about the program before the Duke game.

Dwayne Stephens' name is always out there for potential jobs. Some have thrown his name out there for Minnesota. Stephens is a terrific recruiter, and his loss would certainly be hurt in the hunt for Tyus Jones and others.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune says Stephens would be interested in Minnesota if the Gophers came after him. Does Minnesota want an up-and-coming assistant over a coach with a proven track record, as Tubby Smith was? Given how Minnesota's top targets are dropping like flies, this is a real possibility. Izzo's coaching tree certainly has some hits and misses. (BTW, can someone please hire Bacari Alexander?)

Regarding the schedule, we know MSU will be playing Kentucky in Chicago for the Champions Classic. It looks like it will be in New York for the Coaches vs. Cancer event in Brooklyn, too.

Overall, given the No. 1 strength of schedule, the youth (No. 248 in experience) and the injuries before and during the year, Izzo really wanted people to understand how successful this season was. Unlike Indiana, they won't get rings for the Sweet 16, but they were a missed layup by Michigan away from putting up another banner. The future remains bright, and MSU teams are judged on championships, but this team did accomplish plenty.


I'll probably doing some more season recap stuff later, with a month-by-month review. We'll also have individual player breakdowns at some point.