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College Basketball

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo laid into Division II team after 55-point loss to Spartans

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The St. Cloud State (Minn.) Huskies, a Division II basketball team, paid a visit to East Lansing on Friday to play the role of patsy in an exhibition match-up with the Michigan State Spartans.

The Huskies of course were expected to lose, which the team did in spectacularly ugly fashion, going down by the lopsided score of 101-46.

A 55-point drubbing was not how it was supposed to go down, though, especially after the Huskies put up a much better fight two years ago, when the D-2 school lost to the college basketball powerhouse by a score of 62-49.

According to a report in the St. Cloud Times, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo was asked by Huskies coach Matt Reimer to address his team and to give the players an unfiltered critique of how the Huskies played.

Instead of giving the players a rah-rah speech about how they gave it their best shot, it was a tough match-up for them, yadda yadda yadda, Izzo took it to the players, delivering a verbal take-down about how they played, “calling out the Huskies’ lack of leadership and their individualistic tendencies,” per the Times’ Andy Rennecke.

Izzo addressed the team for a whopping 40 minutes. And the players appeared to appreciate the talk even though most of what was uncomplimentary.

“It was something to remember,” Husies freshman forward Jon Averkamp said. “He’s such an important person in the basketball community. He’s a leader and his words carry a lot of weight.

“As the years progress for me here, I’ll try and take some of his advice to heart.”

Junior point guard Jordan Poydras was among the players taken to task by Izzo during the stern discussion.

“I think it helped us get our heads on straight,” he said. “It’s nice hearing that feedback from somebody who has been around the game so long. He knows so much. For him to talk to us, and the things he said, really means a lot.”

Coach Reimer was especially appreciative of Izzo and the esteemed coach’s no-nonsense approach to addressing his players.

“I think (Izzo) was as shocked as we were at our performance,” Reimer said. “I think he was especially shocked at the play of our upperclassmen. We showed we could compete with them two years ago.

“I can’t thank Coach Izzo enough for what he did and to talk to our guys that frankly. He told them the way they played Friday night was embarrassing. We needed that.”

Being berated by one of the true titans of college basketball is something the players will remember for the rest of their lives. And Izzo deserves a lot of credit for telling it like it is instead of trying to spare anyone’s feelings or massage their egos. Sometimes the truth hurts, but an athlete is far better off knowing it instead of having someone sugarcoat it.

[H/T Star Tribune, photo credit: Andy Rennecke]