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Michigan State's Izzo To Receive USBWA'S Good Guy Award

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 7:50 AM, under , ,

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has been selected to receive the Good Guy Award from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association for his work with members of the news media to promote college basketball.

Izzo will be recognized at the USBWA's annual college basketball awards breakfast on Friday, April 3, at the Detroit Athletic Club during this year's NCAA Final Four in Detroit.

At the breakfast, the USBWA will also present the Oscar Robertson Trophy to the national player of the year and the Henry Iba Award to the coach of the year.

In addition, the Basketball Writers will honor Michigan State's 1979 national championship team on the 30th anniversary of the Spartans' NCAA title.

"Tom Izzo is simply more than a Good Guy," said Louisville Courier-Journal sports columnist and USBWA Past President Rick Bozich, who will present Izzo with the Good Guy Award.

"He's a guy who's good for the game of college basketball."

Izzo's understanding of the media's needs, according to Bozich, was never more evident than it was when Michigan State and Kentucky met in 2003 in the first college basketball game ever played at Detroit's Ford Field.

The inaugural game was called "The BasketBowl" and it attracted the largest crowd ever for a college basketball game, 78,129.

The court was placed in the middle of the field and initially, much of the press seating was located a great distance away from the playing court. Izzo insisted that all media be moved down to courtside.

"He felt the folks covering the game needed to be close to the action," said Bozich.

For the last two seasons, Izzo has invited the media to a Michigan State practice for a 2 l/2 hour session. They're issued jerseys; they watch films, run drills and finish with a post-game meal.

"He understands that the media is a direct link between basketball programs and basketball fans. He knows that it is important that writers have legitimate access to coaches and players. He takes time to explain things. He doesn't sense a conspiracy behind every question."

Now in his 14th season at Michigan State, Izzo has garnered considerable media attention, due not only to his relationship with the press but also to the success the Spartans have had on the court. His resume includes one national championship, four Final Fours and 12 straight NCAA tournament appearances.

This year, Michigan State won its fifth Big Ten title under Izzo, tying the school record for conference victories (15) and capturing the league championship by four games.

All this while overcoming a series of injuries and illnesses to key players that forced Michigan State to play 14 different starting lineups this season.

At the end of the season, Izzo was named Big Ten coach of the year for the second time in his career.

Previous Good Guy Award winners include now retired coaches Gene Keady of Purdue and Tom Brennan of Vermont.

Posted on March 25, 2009 from Athens, GA.

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