Spartans on board with Izzo's 'better than good' theme

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Tom Izzo speaks at MSU media day on Tuesday.

East Lansing – Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has made it clear over the last few weeks: He is no longer satisfied with just being good.

After another trip to the Final Four last season, Izzo wants more, and it's the message his players are buying into heading into the 2015-16 season.

"Getting there has been fun, but you have to do more than just get there," Izzo said at Michigan State's media day on Tuesday. "Are we too pleased just getting there? Still, one of my best teams was two years ago and things happened. Last year was a surprise and then maybe we're happy to get there."

Last season's trip to the Final Four was the seventh under Izzo, but it also meant it was the Spartans' fifth trip without winning a title since they were national champions in 2000. In fact, they've only reached the title game once, in 2009.

"The players weren't satisfied with the embarrassing loss to Duke," Izzo said of last spring's 81-61 loss. "We weren't as good as Duke but we didn't play well, either. As good of a run as it was to get there from the Big Ten tournament when we played our best basketball in years, it was a very disappointing way to finish.

"My goal every year is to have a chance to win the Big Ten and have a chance to make a run in the tournament. We have done that on a fairly regular basis. Now we're trying to move that up and set new standards and new goals. I want to take it to another level, that's what I'd like to see us do."

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Michigan State begins with a preseason game Nov. 4 against Northern Michigan then starts the regular season Nov. 13 against Florida Atlantic. Big games follow with Kansas, Louisville, Florida and a potential matchup with Arizona in the Wooden Legacy.

After that it's on to a Big Ten, which Izzo says is as deep as any conference in the country.

"I like the team a lot," Izzo said. "We have great chemistry, great togetherness. We could be a better defensive team and the trip to Italy helped us. The schedule is going to be brutal again with a lot of good teams.

"We'll be set back early and play a lot of big games early with definitely Kansas, possibly Arizona, definitely Louisville and definitely Florida, all in the first month. At the same time it will be great for us to see where we're at and where we need to get better and go from there."