Not many basketball teams faced the highs and lows that Michigan State endured during the 2019-20 season. A team picked to win the NCAA Tournament this season dealt with challenge after challenge throughout the year.
Sometimes, it’s these kind of years when players and coaches bond together more than ever. And, often times, it’s the kind of season that coaches remember most.
That will be the case for Tom Izzo. The longtime Michigan State head coach said that this was a year he’ll remember forever.
“There were many distractions during the year that these players had to overcome. And I’m proud of them for what they did,” Izzo said in a video posted on Michigan State’s Twitter account. “It was harder for me to push and pull. There were days when I felt bad and didn’t know how to handle things. I got a lot of help from a lot of great people.
“But when it’s all said and done, this will be a season that I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
"So I hope that the lessons we learn are to appreciate what we have, respect the decisions that are made in the best interests of everybody…and try your hardest to take advantage of every day you're on the Earth."
Coach Izzo reflects on the 2019-2020 season. pic.twitter.com/KCdcqFLHOf
— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) March 17, 2020
Michigan State opened the year as the top-ranked team in college basketball, returning several key players from the year before. Basketball suddenly seemed much less important in November, though, when Cassius Winston’s brother was killed shortly after the start of the season.
Winston’s coaches, teammates, opponents and fans rallied around the star guard to offer him support through the most difficult time.
Later in the year, Michigan State struggled on the court and fell out of the Associated Press rankings. But a late surge in the final two months of the season helped lift the Spartans to share a third-straight B1G regular season title. And, near the end of the year, Xavier Tillman welcomed his new son to the world.
It’s a year unlike one any other team went through this college basketball season. And the one that Izzo will remember forever.