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'Our battle cry': Tom Izzo speaks on impact of MSU shooting ahead of game against U-M

Posted at 4:12 PM, Feb 16, 2023

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Michigan State head basketball Coach Tom Izzo spoke to the media Thursday afternoon ahead of this weekend's game against Michigan.

Tom Izzo speaks on MSU shooting, upcoming game against U-M

This was Izzo's first time speaking with the media since Monday's mass shooting at the university. He spoke to the Spartan community during a vigil at MSU Wednesday night, giving an emotional speech.

"It's a strange time with everything we've gone through and everything so many people have gone through. But pausing to remember those we lost on Monday night is first and foremost," said Izzo, who has been head coach since 1995.

Michigan State is scheduled to play Michigan on Saturday at 8 p.m. MSU's game earlier this week against Minnesota was postponed.

"It's Michigan week. It's a big week," Izzo said. "It makes you realize games are important but not as important as some things."

Izzo applauded the efforts made by the athletic department after Monday's deadly shooting, saying university coaches, staff and athletes had a chance to talk with mental health professionals this week.

"Everybody's focus was on safety and mental health of the student-athletes, everybody's," an emotional Izzo said.

Izzo said Wednesday's practice "was awful."

"To no blame to anybody, we just didn't have it," he said.

He said the team discussed playing on Saturday and decided it would be best to help them heal and hopefully the community as well.

"We agreed that would be our battle cry," Izzo said. "We also know everyone grieves different and everyone processes trauma in a million different ways."

Izzo highlighted some Michigan players while discussing the upcoming game.

Izzo, whose son Steven is a Michigan State student and basketball player, said his son “was at one of the buildings two nights ago about 10 minutes after things happened.”

He said Steven Izzo went to pick up his girlfriend from class and arrived to the Union early and was told by police to leave. Tom Izzo said he told his son to barricade himself somewhere on campus.

Members of the athletic department hid and stayed at the Breslin Center until around 1 a.m., Izzo said.

He said he feels bad that kids come to college hoping to have a safe space and many felt that was taken from them Monday night.

Tom Izzo says he, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others visited the hospital where the injured students are “fighting for their lives.”

“I can’t begin to imagine what all of you are going through,” he said Wednesday to students, who poured into a site near “The Rock,” a community gathering place that has become a makeshift memorial in the days since the attack.

You can watch the full press conference with Tom Izzo in the video player above.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.