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Michigan State's Tom Izzo remorseful, but comes up short at the press conference

Michigan State's Tom Izzo remorseful, but comes up short at the press conference

Tom Izzo only wanted to talk about basketball.

On Sunday afternoon in College Park, Md., Izzo's No. 6 ranked Michigan State Spartans rallied from down 13 to defeat the Maryland Terrapins 74-66.

The win keeps Michigan State just 1.5 games behind conference-leading Purdue, but also provided one of the first true chances Izzo had to speak to the media in the wake of the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nasser, a Michigan State University doctor who was in charge of team medicine for the U.S. Olympics gymnastics program.

I just hope that everybody rallies behind this team a little bit, and I hope we all rally behind the survivors, and we make our community a better place," Izzo said during his postgame interview on CBS.

When he took to the dais in the Xfinity Center media room, Izzo tried to stick to the game, but it was clear what was on everyone's mind. 

"i've cooperated with every investigation and will continue to do so," Izzo said, before insisting that he will only answer basketball questions.

Izzo was then pressed by an ESPN Outside the Lines reporter."You understand of course we have a lot of questions and you have not given any answers."

Izzo's response: "Nope. And I’m not gonna right now. Sorry.”

But this is a basketball issue. It is a Michigan State university issue. it is a Michigan State athletics issue.

On Friday, an ESPN Outside the Lines report uncovered a litany of evidence that suggests Michigan State officials engaged in “denial, inaction, and information suppression” when made aware of sexual assault accusations against members of the men’s football and basketball teams.

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In 2010, two Michigan State basketball players were accused of sexual assault by a fellow Michigan State student. One of the players refused to speak with police, while the other player corroborated the victim's claims, evening stating "I understand how she would feel that she was not free to leave.” 

The two players involved — then-incoming freshmen Keith Appling and Adriean Payne — we're never charged, or reprimanded by Izzo. The same Outside the Lines report also stated that Izzo allowed undergraduate student assistant coach Travis Walton to continue to work with the team even after he was accused of punching a women at a bar. Another student claimed Walton had sexually assaulted her several months prior. 

When asked about Walton, Izzo did not have a lot to say.

"It's been hard to focus on basketball, because when I do, I feel guilty," Izzo said, trying keep the focus on his team's stellar second-half performance on Sunday. 

While Izzo has never been found guilty of covering up or deterring sexual assault accusations, there is no room for error given the current climate. Even Izzo, one of the "good guys" in college basketball, is not free from criticism. Izzo knows better than most that he's not just a basketball coach. He is an educator, a boss, an advocate, a spokesperson, and a role model.

March is typically when Izzo and his team shine. But March Madness can wait, because Izzo needs to shine now.

With the university president and the athletic director out of power, Izzo is in a position to be completely transparent and go above and beyond to help the victims, something both AD Mark Hollis and school president Lou Ann Simon did not do.

Izzo didn't "lose the press conference" per se, but he didn't win it either. Izzo wants to do what's best here. He feels for all those involved, but his words on Sunday weren't enough.

Izzo could have stepped up and been the guiding light, as he's been in the past. He wanted to talk basketball.

But this is a basketball issue and Izzo should have said more.

 

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Maryland loses two as Justin Jackson declares for NBA Draft, will sign with agent

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USA TODAY Sports

Maryland loses two as Justin Jackson declares for NBA Draft, will sign with agent

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland forward Justin Jackson will forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility to seek a career in the NBA.

Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon also says guard Dion Wiley will transfer before playing his senior season.

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Jackson averaged 10.5 points as a freshman before missing most of the 2017-18 season with a shoulder injury.

Jackson says, "After talking with my family and weighing my options, it's my desire to turn my full attention to preparing for a career in professional basketball."

Wiley appeared in 83 career games, playing a backup role on three teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament under Turgeon.

Maryland was 19-13 this season, including 8-10 in the Big Ten, and failed to reach the postseason.

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Lefty Driesell to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame per report

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Lefty Driesell to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame per report

Long-time University of Maryland men’s basketball coach Charles Grice “Lefty” Driesell will finally be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

This is according to NBC Sports Washington contributor Jon Feinstein.

Driesell coached the Terrapins for 17 seasons between 1969-86. While guiding the program to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT Championship, Driesell transformed Maryland into a legitimate force in college basketball.

When hired by the Terps, Driesell famously announced that he wanted to turn Maryland into the “UCLA of the East.” After only four seasons he had made it to two ACC Championship Games and his first Elite Eight appearance. His success opened the door not only for the program but the school to compete at the highest levels of competition.

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Maryland made it as high as the Elite Eight twice under the reign of Driesell. He was named ACC Coach of the Year twice and won one ACC Tournament Championship in 1984. At the time of his NIT Championship with the Terps in 1972, the NIT was held in a similar regard to the NCAA Tournament.

He is second on Maryland’s all-time wins list (348), behind Gary Williams’ 461. Driesell however, still holds the best win percentage of all Maryland coaches with 68.6 win percentage.

After Maryland, the former Duke basketball coached at James Madison for just short of a decade and ended his coaching days at Georgia State. Driesell also coached at Davidson before taking the Maryland job to combine for over 40 seasons at the head of a Division I basketball program.

The 86-year-old was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame back in 2007. He also the namesake for the NCAA’s best defensive player of the year award, which was first awarded in 2010.

The official announcement from the Naismith Hall of Fame will be during the Final Four on Saturday, March 31.

WANT MORE HOOPS?  Listen below as Troy Machir and Chick Hernandez discuss Lefty Driesell's legacy in the area and why the Terps icon was on the outside of the Hall of Fame for so long.