Izzo frustrated but clarifies 'fan base' comment

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — In the wake of Michigan State’s loss to Purdue on Tuesday night, coach Tom Izzo was asked about the growing frustration from the fan base over the Spartans’ 12-9 record, including a 4-4 mark in the Big Ten.

Izzo’s first response to the question was, “I don’t care about the fan base.”

The Spartans coach, in his 22nd season, went on to explain he wasn’t worried about those who questioned what was going on with the team. However, there was quite a reaction on social media and talk radio to that first response. Taken on its own without the context of his entire answer, it appeared Izzo was lashing back at the fans.

After practice on Thursday, Izzo sought to clarify what he was saying, though he was hardly backing away from those who to criticize his team.

“At the beginning of that week in our press conference we talked about some things that were going on out in social media,” Izzo said. “So when I’m answering a question I kind of put everything all together and because I don’t deal in that 140 bytes or five bytes or any other bytes, I just kind of lump it all together. And if some people are upset because I used the word ‘fan base,’ my apology.

“But if I have to say anything, as I’ve said before, to anybody in this state on my loyalty to our fans, that’s sad. But I’m not gonna let people that have no clue belittle my players or the program. It ain’t gonna happen.”

It’s clear to understand why Izzo — like the Michigan State fans — is frustrated. The Spartans have lost three straight, including four of the last five and for the first time this season look like a true bubble team for the NCAA Tournament while they fall further out of the Big Ten race.

With Sunday’s rivalry matchup against Michigan set for 1 p.m. at Breslin Center, the margin for error has virtually vanished and Izzo wanted it clear he’s standing up for his players who might be taking heat he doesn’t feel they deserve.

“If I had to choose my word better (I’d say) I don’t care about fans that do not pull for our team,” Izzo said. “Because those are like Walmart fans. If you’re winning they do good and if you’re losing they don’t.

“I’m not worried about what I say because I can stand up for what I say,” Izzo said. “I’m not worried about what they say, not to me, but I am to my players. That’s the part that’s different for me. I would encourage somebody if they’re a fan and they’re frustrated to call me, yell at me, come to my practice. I’ll talk to them. But be careful with the kids. They are big boys, too, but it’s a little different than it used to be five years ago.”

Nose news

Sophomore forward Kenny Goins has a broken nose, inflicted by an errant elbow from teammate Matt McQuaid in Tuesday’s game against Purdue.

“It’s doing good, still a little sore,” Goins said after practice. “It’s kind of still a little bit off to the right and they haven’t gotten it fully straightened out yet.”

Goins isn’t expected to miss any time and the injury brings back a familiar piece of equipment — the mask he wore last season after breaking his nose in a non-conference game against Louisville.

“It was at my house in Warren so I had to drive back and grab it,” Goins said. “Everyone was asking about it. Coach wanted it back, fans wanted it back, so it’s back by popular demand. We’ll see (if it’s good luck). Hopefully something changes so we can get some wins around here.”

Drummond endorsement

After Miles Bridges set a Michigan State single-game record on Tuesday with 33 points, he drew the attention of Pistons star Andre Drummond.

“@MilesBridges01 you my friend a very fun to watch,” Drummond posted on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Bridges talked about the mention he got from Drummond, who was at Breslin Center on Tuesday to see Bridges play.

“That’s cool,” Bridges said. “He’s an All-Star, a great NBA big, a Detroit Piston. Just to get a compliment from one of the great players in the league is a great honor.”