East Lansing — The regular season is done, and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says the focus for his team is going to be solely on basketball.
It hasn’t been like that the last few weeks for the No. 2 team in the country that begins the Big Ten tournament on Friday in New York. The Spartans are the top seed after winning the regular-season championship but have been dogged by repeated questions about issues off the court.
The latest came last week when the NCAA reinstated sophomore Miles Bridges in short order after a review form MSU compliance showed a minor violation after Bridges’ mother was named in a Yahoo Sports report on corruption in college basketball.
After practice on Wednesday, Izzo said his players were done talking about anything other than basketball.
"We’re not answering any questions, my team, anymore, about anything but basketball,” Izzo said. “That’s gonna be it. It’s basketball questions. I owe it to them, and I mean this strongly. I owe it to them and I owe it to my staff. We’re going to focus in because it’s been a lot of distractions. I tried to do it as best I could for all of you, never cut off my locker room or anything else.
“But now, it’s going to be basketball time. These players, this staff deserves to focus in on basketball. That’s what we’re going to do and see if we can make this incredible year even more special.”
Izzo wanted to be clear there is no issue going forward with Bridges’ eligibility.
“Our compliance people had sent the information to the NCAA,” Izzo said. “They conducted their own search, sent it to the NCAA, it came back, they cleared him unequivocally. We do not have to, in any reason, shape or form, think that there will be anything else that he has to go through. I expect him here the rest of the year.
“As far as all these allegations, I’m just going to tell you that I feel very comfortable that we’ve emphatically cooperated with everybody on every search. Everything we’ve done, I think we’ve appropriately, handled it exactly the way we were supposed to handle it with the rules at the time.”
Michigan State (28-3, 16-2 Big Ten) will play at noon Friday at Madison Square Garden against the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 8 Maryland and No. 9 Wisconsin.