Michigan State’s Tom Izzo says playing again honors shooting victims
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo said Thursday it’s clear his team wants to “get back on the court” this week following a shooting on campus that claimed the lives of three people and shut down the entire campus. school activities for several days.
Izzo said he and his team have spent the past few days trying to balance processing the trauma of Monday night’s shooting with a desire to return to some form of normality. The Spartans met at Izzo’s home on Tuesday morning to advise players on how to access mental health resources if needed and to discuss the way forward. He said the team isn’t considering canceling Saturday night’s upcoming road game against Michigan.
“You have to find a way to honor the people who were killed for no reason, and our way to do that is to play along,” Izzo said at a Thursday night press conference.
Three students were killed and five others remain hospitalized after a 43-year-old man unaffiliated with the university opened fire in a classroom and at the student union Monday night, police said. The campus was closed for several hours until police announced the suspected shooter committed suicide, in the face of law enforcement.
Michigan State canceled all campus activities — including men’s and women’s basketball team games — earlier in the week. Sporting events will resume for the Spartans on Friday and students will return to class next week. Izzo said his team practiced on Wednesday and Thursday. He said he spoke with mental health professionals for advice on how to approach a return to basketball.
“[The players] felt that if they played it would not only help themselves [but] maybe the campus is healing a bit,” he said. “…We also know that everyone has different grief and everyone processes trauma in a million different ways.”
Izzo told his team that all the emotions they’re feeling this week are valid. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday night as he addressed thousands of students, alumni and community members who gathered on campus for a vigil. He said being part of the vigil was “one of the most emotional moments” of his 40-year career at Michigan State.
Izzo said a long list of other coaches have reached out to him and others across Michigan State to offer their help and support, including Michigan’s Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Juwan Howard. The Wolverines plan several ways to show their support for their in-state rivals on Saturday night, including a moment of silence, wearing green and white warm-up shirts and playing Michigan State’s alma mater during the game.
“Does it help? Of course it helps,” Izzo said when asked about the messages he and others have received this week.
The Michigan State women’s basketball team will host Maryland in East Lansing on Saturday afternoon. Several other Spartan teams have resumed travel to their scheduled games on Thursday and will play this weekend.