INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan State men's basketball coach is very familiar with the Spartans' upcoming foe, Duke. The two nationally-renowned programs will face each other today at approximately 9:45 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Izzo spoke with the media on Thursday about a number of topics.
On limiting cell phone use by the Spartan players:
"I better explain what taking the phones away means. It just means from our meetings, our bus rides to places like this. If I took the phones away the whole time, my guys would die. It's intravenous. I just got to unplug them from their veins. I think everybody's in the same boat with that.
"Just when they come down to meetings, when they're in the bus, that's where I really enjoy it, on the way to practices or on the way here. I love not having I love hearing a little noise in my bus. I'm not a big guy for it being completely quiet. It's nice to hear guys talking instead of (knocking). I hate that noise, to be honest with you."
On needing NBA players to win NCAAs:
"Kentucky had like seven. So they made up for the two that didn't apply, I think, in that one year. But better players make you a better coach. Better players give you a better chance.
"I don't think it's the most important thing. I think the most important thing is the matchups, how your team's playing at the time, confidence in your players, who handles distractions as you get to these bigger scenes. I think there's a lot of factors than just having pros."
On Oregon coach Dana Altman:
"Dana is a great coach. He proved himself at I guess you'd call it a mid-major. I hate to use that terminology. But the job he did at Creighton was phenomenal.
"When he got hired out there, I told people he's going to be successful. Successful people are going to be good, no matter where they're placed."
On what to expect from Duke:
"...disciplined team that doesn't beat themselves. And I think you can hope this guy doesn't shoot well or that guy. You're probably going to get a pretty good shooting team, and you're going to get a team that doesn't beat themselves.
"Most of the time, they're very solid defensively. You're not going to get a lot of full court pressing. You're not going to get a lot of zones."
On the similarities between himself and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski:
"...when I was younger, I read a lot of things about him. I don't do that anymore, because it bothers me. He's been too good for too long.
But I look at Mike, his family. I look at where he came from. I look at his parents in Chicago and just the way that he grew up and it reminds me a lot of the same things I did.
"So I guess when you've been raised right, you have a little more loyalty. I think that's part of the whole deal, and I think we both have had loyalty.
"I think we've maintained former players. We believe in the family atmosphere of a program and that the former players are as important as the current players. I think we believe in our universities and we have great loyalty to them.
"And I think both of our wives - I know Mickey's involved. I know my wife, Lupe, is very involved in recruiting and everything else. I think we've engaged our family, our personal family into our professional family. And I think that too would have something to do with, we've taken ownership in our universities. We're not just employees.
"And I think you ask your team to take ownership, but they can't take ownership if you don't take ownership. I think the one thing I've tried to do is take ownership in the place I work at. And I know he's done that. And maybe that's the greatest compliment, I think, anybody can give anybody is that he's done some things over the test of time and sustaining them.
"I'm kind of embedded there. There's no question he's embedded at Duke. And I guess that's what we have in common."
On his son picking Duke:
"We're sitting at the table and he's getting ready for school and I'm getting ready to go to work. I always have a couple brackets that we have a little argument with, with our neighbors. And I make sure his name's on it, because the NCAA, you're not allowed to do any of that.
"So I said, 'Steven, who are we picking here and who are we picking there?' He had his whole bracket filled out and I get a big enlarged one. In our bracket, the only one that wasn't filled out to the end, I said, You haven't finished this one. He said, 'I'm having trouble with a game' I said, 'What game?' He said, 'I got you getting to Duke, Dad.' I said, 'That's good.' I said, 'Where are we going from there?' 'I don't know, you know. I don't know, Dad. I don't know.'
"So I just kind of, I tried to be a real parent, you know, not push your kid. Help him make intelligent decisions, like all of us do. And I said, 'Steven, I love you, man. Do it with your head, not your heart. Don't worry about Mom or Dad.' The damn kid didn't do it. He didn't worry about us at all. He picked Duke and we move on.
"So as I told a lot of people, I love my kid. He's a skinny little guy that won't be eating for a month if we lose this game."