Michigan State’s Tom Izzo applauds his seniors Payne, Appling


The star players of the 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic were seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling, a fact that more than pleased Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.

“I appreciate and understand all the freshmen, but I hope we start appreciating guys that stay around school and get better because those two guys have grown up so much,” Izzo said after the Spartans’ opening round 96-77 win over Virginia Tech on Nov. 22.  “They’re going to be players at more than just this level before it’s done.  So I’m really proud of my two seniors Appling and Payne.”

Against Tech, Payne led the NCAA No. 1 men’s college basketball team in the country to a 96-77 win with a career-high 29 points at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.  Payne also went 4-for-6 on 3-point attempts, his ability to shoot beyond the perimeter a new weapon in the 6’10” forward’s arsenal that emerged late last season.  A top prospect in the NBA draft, Payne turned down the pros and opted instead to return to East Lansing for his final year.

The next night, tournament MVP Appling scored his own career-best 27 points in the team’s 87-76 win in the championship game against Oklahoma.

During his press conference after Michigan State’s victory over the Hokies, Izzo was asked whether Payne was the greatest forward he had coached in college basketball.

“I think he definitely is,” Izzo said.  “We had a good shooter in [A.J.] Granger and of course [Andre] Hutson played four or five…we had some good guys in the end of the 2008-2009-2010 era.  But if you look at all things right now, I think he is one of the best power forwards or stretch forwards or whatever you want to call them now – hybrid forwards.”

“He’s playing within himself,” Izzo added.  There was a time when he couldn’t play 20 minutes – it was just his conditioning, his strength.  He’s a perfect example that it’s okay to stay in school and get better.  We’ll see when it’s all said and done.”

Photos: Michigan State University Spartans – 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
all photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Video: Press Conference – Michigan State University Spartans Head Coach Tom Izzo – 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic – Nov. 22, 2013
video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine