Tom Izzo determined, hopeful college basketball can finish season despite COVID-19 spikes

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Ryan Young
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Michigan State coach Tom Izzo
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is hopeful that college basketball can finish out the season despite massive coronavirus spikes. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Last week was a tough one for college basketball, and for the country in general.

Several major programs were forced to pause team activities, cancel games and deal with COVID-19 outbreaks — all while the United States averaged near highs in new coronavirus cases and set an all-time single-day death record.

Despite all of the issues, however, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is hopeful that both the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament will find a way forward.

“But I feel that if we continue to do what we’re supposed to do, the protocol that’s been set, and we can get more people around us to do the same thing, I think our chances [of success] improve a lot,” Izzo said Monday, via the Detroit Free Press. “And I do think we’ll get through the season. And I do think we’ll have a championship. And I do think we’ll be playing games.”

Tom Izzo: We’re not handling COVID-19 right as a country

Michigan State had multiple games postponed last week after two players, including Izzo’s son, Steven, contracted the coronavirus. Izzo confirmed on Monday that two more players and two others within the program had tested positive, too.

The team now hasn’t played in 10 days and had Saturday’s matchup with Illinois postponed on Monday. The Spartans’ next game is set for Jan. 28 at Rutgers.

Still, Izzo is determined to carry on.

“As of right now, there’ll be no shutdown here,” Izzo said, via the Detroit Free Press. “I can’t even call it a pause. We had to postpone a couple games for the safety and well-being of not only our players, but the players on the other team.”

Penn State is also dealing with a coronavirus outbreak, and Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg is one of 12 people in his program to have tested positive last week. The country is now averaging more than 218,000 new cases of the coronavirus a day, according to The New York Times, and more than 3,300 deaths.

Though it may look as if the sport is falling apart, Izzo said it’s not fair to blame college basketball itself.

“We just keep going through these, these segments of Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and then we see the spikes after,” Izzo said, via the Detroit Free Press. “If anybody thinks it’s because we’re not handling it right [as a sport], you’re wrong.

“We’re not handling it right as a country, in my humble opinion. So I don’t know what that leads to … It does leave you to question some things.”

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