Michigan State basketball's Tom Izzo plans to have Joey Hauser vs. former grad assistant

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Tom Izzo and Michigan State basketball began their Thanksgiving week by boarding a flight bound for the Bahamas.

Joey Hauser hopes his next stop is back in the starting lineup when the Spartans open the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament against Loyola (Chicago) on Wednesday. Tipoff is noon at Paradise Island resort in Nassau.

The senior did not play in MSU’s 83-59 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday due to a calf strain, and Izzo said Hauser only participated in drill work in practice Sunday while sitting out the live portions. The Spartans worked out early Monday before flying to the tournament.

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Nov 12, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan StateÕs Joey Hauser shoots a long jump shot in the second half at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan StateÕs Joey Hauser shoots a long jump shot in the second half at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

“It is strictly precautionary on my part,” Izzo said via Zoom on Sunday night. “If we would have played a Big Ten game (Saturday), he would have played. But these are injuries that can linger. …

“I'm being overcautious, just because I think three games (in three days) is going to be a lot. But I expect him to play.”

Hauser started the first three games for MSU (2-1), averaging a team-leading 8.3 rebounds with 7.3 points. However, the 6-foot-9 forward is just 3-for-12 from 3-point range, which included missing all five deep attempts and another inside the arc in a two-point performance Wednesday at Butler.

“He missed six great shots,” Izzo said. “I'd have him take those every time.”

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Junior Malik Hall started in Hauser's spot against the Eagles and produced season highs with 15 points, on 6 of 11 shooting, and nine rebounds in 23 minutes.

The Spartans also play Thursday and Friday at Battle 4 Atlantis, which also features Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, Connecticut, Syracuse and Virginia Commonwealth. But first up in Wednesday’s opener is a familiar face.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, center, talks to the team during a timeout in the second half against Eastern Michigan, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, center, talks to the team during a timeout in the second half against Eastern Michigan, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich.

First-year Loyola Chicago coach Drew Valentine is a former MSU graduate assistant who grew up in Lansing. The 30-year-old is the brother of former Spartans star and current Cleveland Cavaliers guard Drew Valentine and son of Carlton Valentine, who played for Jud Heathcote when Izzo was an assistant coach and won two state titles at Lansing Sexton.

It will be the second straight opponent for Izzo against someone who once coached under him, after beating EMU’s Stan Heath on Saturday. Izzo also played and beat former assistant Tom Crean and Georgia in MSU’s last Thanksgiving tournament in 2019 at the Maui Classic.

“The first thing Stan said is, 'I look up those banners and I get tears in my eyes, because I remember the good old days.' And I agree,” Izzo said. “I don't like playing my assistants, but I'm proud to play them. It's almost an honor that guys — like players, like assistant coaches — I'm always pulling for guys to live their dream like I got to live mine.”

The Ramblers are off to a 4-0 start, with wins over Coppin State, Florida Gulf Coast, Chicago State and Illinois Chicago. They are outscoring opponents by nearly 31 points a game.

Valentine played at Oakland from 2009-13 and served as an assistant coach on Greg Kampe’s staff before joining Porter Moser at Loyola and being part of the Ramblers' 2018 Final Four run. He was hired to replace Moser, who left for Oklahoma.

“I'm pretty proud of Drew and what he's gotten a chance to do,” Izzo said. “It seems like his team's playing very well. It doesn't surprise me that he'd do a good job. Like all of us, he got a break, just like I got a break. But it's a basketball family, from Carlton to 'Zel to Drew. He's been raised in a crib with basketball on his mind, and that's never changed.

“And I think he'll do a great job there. And I, like a lot of things, wish him all the luck in the world — only after he plays us.”

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball: Tom Izzo expects Joey Hauser to play