Michigan State coach Tom Izzo talks about traveling to Indiana and Minnesota this week and how it will determine a lot in the Big Ten race. The Detroit News
East Lansing — While Michigan State is about face a difficult test this week away from home, the Spartans are taking advantage by using the last part of the week as a chance to “get away.”
The Spartans, who have played five of their first seven Big Ten games at home, play at Indiana at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday followed by a trip to Minnesota for a 3 p.m. tip on Sunday. And instead of returning to campus for a quick turnaround in between games, No. 11 Michigan State (14-4, 6-1 Big Ten) has opted to go right from Bloomington, Ind., to Minneapolis.
“We just thought it would be the right situation and we don't get many of these opportunities,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “So we are going from Indiana right up to Minnesota. We will practice up there at the Timberwolves’ place, I think, or at (Minnesota) and will try to do a little something Friday with the team. I think it's going to work out well but as you know, if you win the game, it was probably one of the greatest decisions in the history of mankind. And if you lose the game, I'll be the dumbest SOB in the history of mankind.
“So it's going to be feast or famine but for me, win or lose, I think it was the right decision. My staff brought it up to me and I thought it was a great idea.”
As comfortable as it is to play at home, especially this season in the Big Ten where home teams are 41-7, there are benefits to playing on the road. Often times, team chemistry grows the most on road trips while tuning out all of the distractions of being at home will help, too.
Izzo believes the chance to get away could be helpful for Cassius Winston, who has been coping with the death of his younger brother, Zachary, since early November. But it’s not the only reason Izzo is looking forward to the trip.
“Our team is a pretty close team,” he said. “I'll be honest, some of it has to do with Cash. It's been a tough couple of games for him and that’s no surprise, and maybe just getting away from some of the stuff and try to get out of the limelight and just kind of be one of the fellas, as Earvin Johnson used to say. That was one of the reasons.
“The other one was the quick turnaround. We felt like we'd been spent a lot of time on the plane. The third one was we're missing very few classes on Friday. So it all worked out where we thought a little team time, get guys away where it’s just us and them.”
Winston up for CLASS
Winston was named this week as one of 30 players being considered for the Senior CLASS Award, given to a Division I senior that has notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
A two-time captain for the Spartans, Winston became the career leader in assists in the Big Ten Conference and at Michigan State in Friday’s win over Wisconsin, surpassing the 20-year record held by Mateen Cleaves. Winston, who is averaging 18.1 points per game this season, also ranks among the top-10 all-time in scoring at MSU with 1,718 career points.
Winston, a Detroit native, graduated from Michigan State in three years, earning his bachelor’s degree in advertising management and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in sport coaching and leadership. Winston has been a fixture in his community, both on campus and in his hometown.
He has taken part in the Miracle League of Mid-Michigan Accessible Trick-or-Treat at a local hospital each year, participated in Habitat Thru Humanity with MSU Athletics and has been an activist for heart screenings for students at the Heilmann Community Center in Detroit.