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Continuity, Development and Culture: Tom Izzo Shows the Course of College Hoop's Portal Age

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MINNEAPOLIS – Tom Izzo can see more clearly the weaknesses of Michigan State’s roster than anyone else.

He is the first to admit that the center position, which includes an inexperienced junior and two freshmen, is the team’s biggest question mark.

Still, he decided not to use the transfer portal to address that weakness this past offseason.

The reason is that he chooses to stick with the players who are already here.

“I chose not to go out, as some fans wanted us to say, ‘I believe in them.'”

During a visit to the Big Ten Basketball Media Day here in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Izzo provided the clearest expression yet of his philosophy on roster management in the new era of college basketball.

Michigan State will start the new season next month with a roster that didn’t add a transfer player in the 2022 offseason. In that sense, Michigan State University is unusual. Of the 65 teams in the Power 5, only eight did not add a transfer last offseason.

It’s not that Michigan State didn’t need players. The team lost its top three scorers in Gabe Brown, Max Christie and Marcus Bingham Jr. to his basketball pros and forward Julius Marble to Portal.

Izzo would rather rely on high school recruitment, subsequent development and roster continuity, as opposed to annual roster rotation via the portal. The only player added after the season ended was high school recruit Carson Cooper.

In that sense, he’s using the same playbook he used throughout his 27 seasons leading Michigan State.

“We’re a development program, ever since I’ve been here,” Izzo said. “We get some great players, we get some good players, we develop them.”

Transfer portals may be full of experienced college players, but Izzo said those players usually come to new programs with the hope of getting started. Current players will have their role reduced and will opt to transfer.

Izzo says this creates cycles of roster rotation and makes it difficult to maintain program culture.

“In the big picture, what I really don’t want to lose is the culture that has been developed over the years,” Izzo said.

On the other hand, high school players are unlikely to replace current roster members. gives the Big Ten more experienced senior players.

Other teams may accumulate more talent on paper through portals. Izzo is betting that a team from Michigan State University, whose veterans have grown over the years in the program, will win a short-term, talent-infused program.

“I’ve seen NBA teams packed with talent that haven’t won anything,” Izzo said. “The most talented teams don’t win championships. Show me where they are.”

This is not to say that Michigan will never allow transfers. His two current members of this squad, Joey Hauser and Tyson Walker, have joined as transfers.

However, Izzo said he intends to use the portal to fill holes in the roster and not to find upgrades for current players who want to remain in the program. Transfer portal.

“It’s my job to nurture them. It’s their job to be developed and work on it,” Izzo said. “If both of us are up for the task, I accept the outcome.”

“I feel like that’s what I promised my guys. If someone got hurt, I wouldn’t play, instead I’d get a fifth-year transfer and give him a chance to come back. not.”

Meanwhile, attention to high school prospects is progressing well. His 2023 class at Michigan State currently ranks his #2 in college basketball by 247sports.

Admittedly, there are risks with this approach. Izzo mostly avoids the available talent pool while his opponent mines it.

But he’s taking a long-term, familiar approach that he thinks works best as college basketball changes around him.

“If I have a bad year and the fans get mad, it’s my fault,” Izzo said. “But I believe we, like everything else in society, are seeing a quick fix. increase.

“I choose the path I choose and I stand by it. It’s really, really important to me.”