Spartans don’t have to look far for motivation

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Tom Izzo

St. Louis – Michigan State coach Tom Izzo uses every bit of motivation he can this time of year, but pointing out the Spartans’ biggest letdown in the NCAA Tournament might not be one of them.

As No. 2 Michigan State put in final preparation for Friday’s matchup with Middle Tennessee in the first round of the Midwest Regional at the Scottrade Center, it was pointed out that Weber State is playing its first-round game at the same venue.

It was Weber State that upset third-seeded Michigan State in 1995 in coach Jud Heathcote’s final game. The next season, Izzo took over.

“I talked to Shawn Respert the other day (about) when we got beat by Weber State,” Izzo said before practice on Thursday. “But this team has got something a little different, too. They've been to a Sweet 16, an Elite Eight, a Final Four. There's been three or four guys that have played in these deep runs.

“Winning that (Big Ten) championship last week, it's not the end of the world, but when you've got to play three games in three days against that kind of competition it kind of hardens you. It gets you ready.”

Blue Raiders telling themselves: MSU �just another team�

Weber State is the 15-seed in the East Region and plays second-seeded Xavier on Friday.

But Izzo has plenty of other ways to remind his team about how important games are in March, as opposed to fixating on one of Michigan State’s toughest defeats.

“One of the best high school teams in the state of Michigan is in East Lansing and last night and they got upset by a 10-10 team,” Izzo said of East Lansing’s loss to Lansing Everett on Wednesday. “One-and-done time is one-and-done. And one bad call, one sprained ankle, one bad shooting night and you know you're going home.”