Is NCAA tournament success the only measure of a coaches ability?
Tom Izzo and the "more with less" fallacy
Izzo inherited a ridiculously loaded MSU team in 1995. Quinton Brooks is largely hailed as one of the best small forwards to lace 'em up for MSU. Power forward Jamie Feick went on to play for the 76'ers. Ray Weathers went on to play for the Suns. Jon Garavaglia was a McDonalds All American and Mr. Basketball. In his first year, he also brought in Morris Peterson of the Toronto Raptors and Antonio Smith. Izzo took that team all the way to the second round of the NIT.
Then on Feb.17, 1996 There was a rollover accident on M-14 involving U-M player Maurice Taylor’s Ford Explorer. Teammates Robert Traylor, Louis Bullock, Willie Mitchell, Ron Oliver and recruit Mateen Cleaves were all in the vehicle.
Izzo capitalized, adding Mateen Cleaves(Pistons) and David Thomas(founder of Wendy's) who helped MSU all the way back to the second round of the NIT. The parade of blue chips continued with Charlie Bell(Suns) and Andre Hutson(Beat up Chuck Norris when Matt Trannon was but a twinkle in his father's eye). This ushered in the Golden Age of MSU basketball('98,'99, 00) when MSU would bookend a National Championship with two additional Final 4's. Loaded as those teams were, this Golden Age led to the great Tom Izzo “More with Less” fallacy. Because MSU does not recruit on the level of Kentucky, Kansas and Duke(them and 342 other schools) Izzo somehow gained the “Beilein” reputation, the coach who advances in the tournament despite his (Perceived) lack of talent.
Izzo has led the Spartans for 19 long years. Impressively, he has had them in the NCAA Tournament for the last 17 of them(One or two of those came with a wink and a nod from the selection committee, but we'll come back to that). That's not quite the 34 year bowl streak Michigan enjoyed under Bo-Mo-Carr, but that kind of consistency is rare in college basketball. Under Izzo's reign, MSU has been to 6 Final Fours and won a National Championship. They've also been bounced in the first round 4 times and lost in the Sweet 16 4 times. Until recently, MSU just dominated Michigan in terms of head to head as well as the post-season. Beilein has obviously turned that around in the last 4 years, winning 6 of the last 9. But that is a local issue. You don't come up with an OP title like that simply because there's a new sheriff in town. No, what leads me to believe that the end is near for Izzo is something much more sinister. Recruiting.
Despite what the media would have you believe, Izzo has simply never HAD to do more with less. He has always been a good recruiter, and he has always had more. I went back and looked at some recruiting numbers and outcomes. There are a number of caveats here. Trey Burke and Caris Lavert were 3* recruits. But to some extent you can look at it as a numbers game(like fantasy football). There's something like a 60% chance that Fantasypros(or Rivals) is going to have each player ranked correctly, a 20% chance they'll be significantly better, and a 20% chance they're going to be worse(Unless you're John Beilein). But if you look at MSU's elite recruit Rivals numbers as far as they go back adding a star for each year of experience(assuming that a sophomore 4* is equal to a freshman 5* and that a 3* player encompasses too great a range to even consider) you find:
2002: 5* Elite 8
2003: 4* 5* First Round
2004: 4* 5* Final 4
2005: bupkis(Roster score of 32) First Round
2006: 4* 4*(RS 28) Second Round
2007: 4* 4* 4*(RS 37) Sweet 16
2008: 4* 5* (RS 36) Runner Up
2009: 4* 4*(RS 51!) Final 4
2010: 4* 5 *(RS 53) First Round
2011: 5*(RS 43) Sweet 16
2012: 5*(Harris) 4* 4*(RS 46) Sweet 16
2013: bupkis(RS 38) Elite 8
2014: 4*(RS 24)
That's a score of 24 for next year. The next lowest would be the 28 from 2006, the year where MSU scraped into the tournament(wink, nod) .500 in conference and got bounced the first weekend. That team was a 4* player better than next year's roster. The next lowest was the 2005 team(two 4* players better) that also went .500 in conference and lost in the first round. For reference, 2009's Final 4 team was rated 51. For those keeping score at home, in the measurable past that's a Roster Average of 40 points(the equivalent of 8 5* freshmen). More with more.
Assuming that Dawson stays and Harris leaves, on paper this coming year's State team will be the worst (from a rivals ratings and experience standpoint) since the modern era of recruiting sites(turn of the century). With Izzo reaching for 3* recruits these days, and the NCAA taking steps to weed out thug ball, I don't see much help on the horizon for them either. You're looking at Dawson as a 5* senior, Valentine and Costello as 4* juniors, and that 4* freshman point guard who can't shoot coming in. That's it.
So what happened to Izzo's recruiting? Several things.
Somewhere in the early 2000's, the NBA stopped playing defense. You see that 5* all the way up there next to 2003? That's Shannon Brown. That's the last one of the guys represented here that went on to the NBA. You're looking at a decade of player development failure. Obviously, the NBA is the dream for a lot of recruits, and Izzo just plain isn't getting it done. Draymond Green(3* recruit not included) should also be mentioned. Not only is he getting 20 minutes per game in the NBA despite playing for MSU, but he is doing it as an undersized defensive specialist. In a league where the regular season has become the all star game.
The Breslin Center was state of the art in 1989, but it has barely been touched since then. I'm no interior decorator, but moldy concrete is generally not the way to go.
Style: Michigan State's defensive mandate is clear: If your man gains an advantage on you, push him, grab him, do what you've got to do. It works great if you can get away with it, but this year MSU is collecting personal fouls like Pokemon cards
I can understand Izzo's feelings of entitlement, as he has benefitted from lazy Big Ten officiating for his entire career, but if you make contact with your hand, arm or elbow away from your body, it is a foul. It has always been a foul. He made jokes after the UConn game about his players not being allowed to "touch anybody" and I can totally see where he's coming from. Who would have ever thought they'd make him play by the rules?
(Related)Results: Call it Karma. Call it correlation without causation. But MSU has badly underperformed their talent level against Michigan(JMo foul trouble aside) or more importantly in the post-season since the Wonders Hall incident. It sounds great, they made it to the Sweet 16 three times. But before the Virginia upset their post season scalps were pretty weak. St. Louis, Long Island, Valpo, Memphis, Delaware, Harvard. Sixth Seed Memphis is the only one that even moves the needle. 2010 stands out as Izzo's most glaring failure, as their most talented team(RS 53) lost out in the first round. With a 4-6 year window to grab the attention of high school kids, Izzo's time is running out.
(Related) Disillusionment. Izzo seems generally unhappy, and his interaction with the press has lost an air of...sanity.
If you're keeping score at home, he comes into the press conference near tears. He rips his own recruiting, whining that he has to play guys he hasn't played in a month. Then he cries about the officiating. Then he cries at the officiating again. Then he complains about poor Keith Appling's wrist.
I don't know if many recruits want to play for a sniveling whining excuse machine.
Then you've got the UConn press conference. His team was just upset by a team that by most accounts has no business in the Final 4, and Izzo seems...Relieved
I dont know of many coaches who would seem that happy that their season was over, that they wouldn't have to coach that particular group of players again. With this group though, he probably wasn't alone.
This is the most concerning if I am a Michigan State fan. The man calls attention to the Federal Rape Investigation that has been kept out of the media...For no other reason than that he is addicted to making excuses. Then he calls it “ridiculous” and says that he's “sick of it”. Now, whatever you think of the Wonder's Hall incident...Put yourself in the shoes of the victim. Then look at what the mouthpiece of your school is saying about the event that changed your life. Even if that's what you're thinking...What kind of human being is so self-absorbed and stupid that they can spout off PUBLICLY about such a terrible allegation as a personal annoyance? And then when they asked him to elaborate, he told members of the press, “Don't mess with me right now”. You brought it up sir. The MSU student newspaper just broke the story that Federal Authorities are investigating the victim's claim that the University "engaged in activities to malign her character" in retaliation for her reporting the assault. I am sure the victim is quite sorry for inconveniencing a man of Izzo's stature. http://statenews.com/article/2014/04/student-claimed-msu-retaliated-against-her-for-reported-assault
Most players dont like being trashed in the media and getting the full Bobby Knight treatment in front of their friends and family. Even the biased MSU media admits that he goes too far http://www.freep.com/article/20140113/BLOG05/301130041/hey-joe-michigan-state-spartans-tom-izzo But Izzo seems unable to coach any other way, and his talent level is shifting accordingly.
They say that you want to leave a program “Better than you found it”, and the guy won a Championship and went to a bunch of Final 4's, but if he bailed for the NBA or even retired with the roster in its current state...What would that do to his legacy? Everyone has an instinct for self-preservation,but the words “cowardly” and “selfish” might come up. Not in the media of course, they write what he tells them to write. I mean in living rooms and around water coolers.
With all of this said, Izzo could pull through this in two or three years. For MSU, that simple metric does seem to predict season outcome pretty well, but if you look at it, Beilein won a Big Ten Championship with a roster score of 5. Beilein made it to the NCAA Championship game with a roster score of 13. But Tom Izzo is no John Beilein. Can you imagine what Beilein would do with the 40's Izzo has averaged over his career? I very much look forward to finding out.
Not the only measure but a very significant one, especially with high level programs that aspire to tournament success.
he's got some BIG titles in there too.
going off Wikipedia:
7 conf titles
4 BTT titles
.715 win %
4 conf players of the year
18 All Big Ten players
6 All Americans
So yes, being a successful head coach is more than just ncaa tournament success. And Izzo has had his share of success in everything else as well
"Msu went S16, S16, S16, E8 the last four years" Well no, in Payne's freshman year(one of the most talented teams Izzo has had) they went out in the first round. And seriously, look at the teams they beat to get to the Sweet 16. Before Virginia, they hadn't beaten a ranked team in 4 years of NCAA tournaments. And Alan Anderson is considerably older than Shannon Brown.
Yeah but I think Shannon Brown is only on 10 day contracts, so I referenced someone who I'm pretty sure is guaranteed. All this is on my phone, so I'm going off memory.
And I see you're right about Payne's first year. I guess during our elite eight game when the announcers said we'd been to three straight S16's, they included the current one. (I try to block out that season anyways, too frustrating haha)
I was always here. I took all the pain in, now I rock BIG champion and final four shirts.
i have my old 1989 national championship shirt in a picture frame.
He's obviously benefited from the other program in his state wandering through a ten year wilderness.
It's not just that UM fans have rediscovered basketball - the program is back and in a big way and you just can't like that if you're Tom Izzo.
I think his excuse making helped the team have confidence going into this tournament, but it was always a false chin just waiting to be cracked. Was anyone really shocked by the arguing on the bench in the UConn game?
I also agree with the original poster that it may be time to be a little concerned about MSU's current level of attractiveness.
He's not going to stop being a good coach - he's obviously a good coach, and any other view of that seems pretty silly. But I do think he's starting to coach pretty tight and that wears on a team eventually. I also think this was far from his finest year of coaching.
took me a while to come back to this thread, I'll toss some responses here and see what happens.
When you say that michigan was wandering through the wilderness and is now back, MSU and UM dont seem to recruit the same kids. So I don't think a Michigan rise is the death of MSU. In fact, most the kids we've both recruited lately have done elsewhere (Kennard, Booker mainly).
I also think that Izzo's recruiting will pick up the next couple classes. he went all in on the big names and missed out on the middle tier the last two years.
arguing on the bench: nothing new. Payne and Dawson have always been yelling at each other and others. Dawson lit into Gauna a lot this year, but I dont think anyone on this team didn't get along and didn't understand the goals of this team were lofty
We've become Michigan's version of the RCMB, except we use words of three syllables or more.
I guess what I meant was
LOL *emoticon* Izzo SUX
*photo of sister in a thong*
(I'm gonna post this on everything you say.)
Not really. There's not 9-10 threads about Staee on this site like there is about Michigan on RCMB.
We have progressed into Michigan's variant of the RCMB, excepting our association utilizes communication of syllables grouped by three or more.
Michigan Difference, yo.
ClearEyes...I had a spare five, yes five whole minutes most around here didn't/don't have, so I guess appreciate the effort and I apparently don't need to look into "WHAT WAS THE REEEAAASON YOU HAD FOR WRITING THIS!!!???". It was an interesting read regardless of the intention and/or original purpose.
And if I didn't have the time I wouldn't bitch about it....and naturally, now I'm an asshole for mentioning that last bit (I gdo understand some of you are just giving him shit with the tl;dr nonesense)
ok, Go do that.
In the 2014 class, Staee has a 4 star and two 3 stars. We have a 4 star and three 3 stars. In 2015 they have a 4 star . We have no 2015 commits. They also have a shot at Josh Jackson.
To be fair, they have about as good a shot at Jackson as we do. Kid's almost assuredly leaving the state for college.
However, if you look at the other prospects with interest in MSU vs. those with interest in M, we better not get comfortable next year when they have a down year. Unless Izzo actually leaves (I'll believe he heads to the NBA the day after he coaches a game), they're not going anywhere because there's still a ton of interest from high-level basketball players in their program. And even if Izzo does leave? There will be plenty of interest in that job from some really solid coaches.
that Chatman doesn't have a higher aggregate ranking than tum tum.
DJ Williams is also a serious riser. No way in hell I would trade our class for theirs, and that's not just bias talking.
Although I do disagree with the thrust of the writing as far as Izzo being a less than great coach.
I'll now go back to reading the "tl;dr" and "why did you post this theory 101" replies.
1. As insufferable as Izzo is on the court, he's a quality human being and a fantastic father.
2. Why do we care? Let's just focus on our team. We are starting our own streak of NCAA tournaments, and we are getting players who fit our team.
is that you?
Again, he's famous for out playing his seeding in the tournament, not being Duke or Kansas. What do you want out of him? He took a 4 seed to the elite eight this year, he's basically been chugging along.
Or, he took the preseason #2 team nationally to the elite eight. Two different perspectives. Overall, I think that MSU underachieved this year - yes in part that was due to injuries but Michigan clearly overachieved despite the injuries.
No 5* players, but loaded with 5's (out of 10).
I am not sure what the purpose of the post is and I am sure as hell not going to read it again to find out.
The moment u predict their demise is when gary harris stays another year.
Some people sure have a ton of extra time
on their hands. That being said, pretty great write up.
Man, that's a lot of thought put into Michigan State. I can help you immensely by condensing your entire post into a couple words: Screw MSU
and he lost. To make matter worst:
5* C Jahil Okafor 6-11/260 from Chicago
5* PG Tyus Jones 6-1/175 from Apple Valley,Mn
rebuffed him also. Izzo recuriting prowess is being tested by coaches within midwest espically by Coach B.
Never,never place all your eggs on one curit...certainly will comeback to bite you in the end.
I'm going to enjoy these next couple of years watching him meltdown...
This site's level of obsession with MSU is beginning to rival msu's obsession with m.
100% true. Whether ppl here want to accept it or not, every post like this just proves to me that in basketball, WE are the little brother.
You could take 90% of this and flip it and post on a sparty blog: why Mich football has never had to do more with less, player development, etc etc .
and thought "this should be a Diary"
Where are you getting this meme from about Izzo doing more with less? I would say he normally targets the 4-year type players and molds them into 1 on 1 defenders before giving them much playing time, but I wouldn't call that "less".
If I had a dollar for every time a talking head has pointed out that Izzo is "Doing it without NBA talent" I'd buy out the Breslin and pay homeless people to root for the other team. Thing is, they sure look like NBA talent when they get on campus. What happens after that?
Gary Harris is your exception, and he is a great, great basketball player, but his growth under Izzo can best be summed up as "Push off before you shoot and you wont get the ball spiked back into your face". I feel fairly confident that I could have coached Gary Harris to the NBA in two years. Might have been less prone to foul out on the next level too.
I think the doing more with less meme belongs to the football coach rather than the basketball coach. Never once have I heard that MSU basketball does not bring in top-flight talent. The reason that doesn't translate into NBA success has to do with player development of the freshman phenoms (Marquise Gray, Kelvin Torbert, etc). That doesn't take anything away from his hall of fame level collegiate accomplishments.
Upvote for effort.
Upvoted for being informative, but I don't think we really need to worry that much about MSU at this point. We are functionally a peer program of theirs by now. They will probably always be pretty good with Izzo, but we will be as well with Beilein.
I believe we have way better assistants as far as helping our player development. I could be an msu assistant and just throw the ball at the rim for their war drill or whatever its called. Jordan has did a phenomenal job with our guards.
I'm not sure why there's this clear need on this board to denigrate Izzo's accomplishments. Yeah, his standing with the media may outweigh reality, but calling him "Jud Heathcote 2.0" is ridiculous. Did he benefit from Michigan flaming out? Probably, but he's turned Michigan State into one of the best programs in the country, when it wasn't much of anything before he got there.
That being said, I think its reasonable to question where they go from here. I've never thought that there was "doing more with less" argument for his program (hello, that 's Mark Dantonio's meme). He's consistently gotten good players. He's not doing that now, so we'll see how far they go given the poor classes he's pulled in over the last couple of years.
Despite the success of his teams, given Izzo's lack of success getting players drafted, I'm not sure why a high ranking player would go to State at all. While Gary Harris will likely go in the 1st round, in the 19 years that Izzo has been at State, only 6 players have been drafted in the first round-- and only 2 have gone in the top 15. State hasn't had a player go in the first round since 2006.
As pointed out by the OP, it's not he hasn't had talent. Izzo's had tons of guys who came in highly ranked and ended up doing nothing in the pros such as Kelvin Torbert, Marcus Taylor, Paul Davis. Who is the last guy from State that was even a regular starter in the NBA? Jason Richardson? Zach Randolph? Izzo may win a lot of games, but his track record of getting guys to pros leaves much to be desired.
Didn't completely understand the thrust of the post but upvoted because it made me laugh and because hey, it's Friday.
Pretty sure the 1st and 3rd pictures are Spartan Stadium, not the Breslin.
Edit: Or at least I haven't seen anything like that in the Breslin when I've been in it this year. Looks a lot more like Spartan Stadium to me.
One is your very attractive fallout shelter-er-concourse(taken before one of MSU's 3 victories unfortunately). Two is a shot of my actual seats at said event. Three was stolen from a Buckeye posting board, entitled "Singing the fight song in the Breslin tunnel". I can remember a shot of Beilein getting interviewed in the same "abandoned warehouse" tunnel post-game, but I just couldn't find it. Hence the theft.
Don't agree with your premise, but I do agree with many of your points.
Izzo will leave at some point and then it will be apparent that this time was indeed the start of the downward slide. He is a good but not great coach. Mostly, I just don't like his coaching style.
he's earned the right to have his name spelled correctly.
perspective and agree with most. Some of Izzos coaching style might emanate from that older style intense grade management approach that Bo-Woody were famous for, Bobby knight, Nick Saban etc. It doesn't play well with current players and doesn't work in the NBA and I believe factored into Izzos not jumping to the pros. Annoying as Izzo may be he has elevated their program and calling him overrated isn't accurate, but I agree with the dire outlook for sparty bb short term however. Enjoyed the provocative analysis, keep up the good work!