Izzo Apologizes To Spartan Fans Who Traveled To Maui Following Va. Tech Upset

"Feel like I let them down," Izzo said.

97.1 The Ticket
November 25, 2019 - 10:20 pm
Tom Izzo at Maui Invitational

Photo: © Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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By Kyle Beery

97.1 The Ticket -- Michigan State's trip to Hawaii wasn't supposed to go like this. 

The No. 3-ranked Spartans weren't supposed to drop the first game of the Maui Invitational against Virginia Tech. In fact, many expected Tom Izzo's team to reach the final, with a potential matchup against No. 4 Kansas on the horizon.

So after MSU failed to get past the Hokies, who were picked to finish 14th out of 15 teams in the ACC Preseason Poll, Izzo felt guilty. In his opening comments of his press conference Monday night, Izzo apologized to Spartan fans who made the 4,000-mile journey to Maui, only to be disappointed.

"I publicly want to apologize to maybe the greatest fan group that was here. We feel like I let them down and it's been an interesting couple weeks and we just weren't as sharp today," Izzo said.

On a night that saw preseason All-American Cassius Winston limited due to early foul trouble, the Spartans offense were unable to ever get into a rhythm. Winston played just 25 minutes -- only eight in the first half -- and never got into his groove Spartan fans are so accustomed to seeing him in. He scored just seven points, failing to reach double figures in the scoring coulmn for just the third time since Feb. 6, 2018.

"It was difficult to sit that long," Winston said. "Just gotta be smarter than that, make better decisions for my team."

Landers Nolley II led the Hokies with 22 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. The Hokies (6-0) made 10 of their 21 3-point attempts, looking like anything but the second-worst team in the ACC. The Hokies now own a neutral court win over a top-five opponent, an ACC road win, and a sparking 42.9% 3-point clip -- a top-10 mark in the country.

While the game wasn't short on excitement for MSU fans -- the Spartans fell behind by 10 with under five minutes to play, before Aaron Henry helped lead a charge to pull within a point at the 1:00 mark -- Spartan fans definitely had reason to be disappointed. 

But it is just November. A neutral court game on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in the long run, has no real bearing on what Izzo's team is capable of in March. An off night for the young man many consider to be the best point guard in the country does not define the Spartans. It does not mean they're not one of the best teams in the country. It does highlight some points of weakness for Michigan State, and certainly does leave a sour taste in the mouths of fans -- especially those who made the trek to Maui. 

The Spartans will turn around and try to right the ship as they play Tom Crean's Georgia at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, another test against a young team that will have an upset on their minds.