The Big Ten's annual media day was held this year on October 15th and all the Big Ten coaches and selected players were able to give their thoughts on the upcoming season and their respective teams. It's a very exciting event and signals the official start to the college basketball season.
BTPowerhouse will be posting the various transcripts of each coach's statements to the press. Including below is the transcript from Michigan State's Tom Izzo.
Tom Izzo On Big Ten Media Day
COACH IZZO: Thanks. Well, it's hard to believe it's been 21 years. But this one is starting out exciting for me. I think we have a completely different team than most that I have had. I think it's one of our best shooting teams. We're more athletic. Hopefully -- over the summer, we've probably spent hours and hours just shooting free throws. Last year, we were the worst free-throw-shooting team in captivity. And hopefully, we're going to turn that around this year.
But I would say depth, shooting are our strengths; a little concerned because shooters think it's illegal to guard people. So I'm a little concerned about the defense and being not as big a team at times.
The other thing we can do is we can be versatile, we can play Denzel at the point, be a real big team, and we, you know, play calm in a small four-man and be a small team. I think we have got the ability to play two different ways, three different ways.
And again, for some reason last year and this year, we have very good leadership. And our chemistry has been great. Denzel's had a heck of a summer, along with some other guys. So as always, for these coaches, for all of us, haven't lost a game. Everything is positive. Wait a couple weeks, stay tuned.
Q. I know it's obviously very early, and the Big Ten potentially could be extremely strong this year. Just your take on that and then how you -- not projecting, but how you think things will go.
COACH IZZO: Well, you know, I've been in the league for a lot of years, 30-some, if you look my GA days up, and there were some really incredible years early on. But the depth of this league and what -- the coaches we've got in it, everybody is going to argue, everybody is going to be prejudiced, but I still say, top to bottom, last four or five years, it's been the best league in the country. And I think this year you have some teams that had injuries, you had some teams that maybe didn't live up to expectations last year, and I think all those teams are going to be better. You would hope teams like Wisconsin are down a little bit from what they lost, but you know, who comes back. So they're going to be really good. And I just think that -- I think what we've done a conference is -- you know, we put money into our sport.
We've got great coaches in our league and the profile of this league has gotten better and better. I think we're not a "3 yards and a cloud of dust" basketball league anymore, and I think that's helped recruiting. So I think the league is as good as it's been. And Maryland is definitely the cream of the crop if you look at what they've got coming back. But I
think -- you know, I see Indiana taking a major jump and then everybody else is going to be fighting for those next spots, at least early on.
Q. Coach, you've got a high-profile transfer in Eron Harris, Jr., coming in. How do you expect him to fit into the bowl of the team?
COACH IZZO: I think he'll fit in well. He can really shoot the ball. He's very athletic. I think the two things he had to work on is finding a shot he didn't like, that was one, and I think he's made some progress. And guarding somebody, and I think he's made some progress in that area. I really like Eron. He's worked hard. He's a gym rat.
I think, if there's one thing I'll say about him and Denzel, they kind of bring forward -- those guys have kind of led some other guys -- we have a lot of guys who have turned into gym rats. And gym rats is every coach's dream, and definitely Eron Harris is one of them.
Q. I just wanted to get your take on the new rule changes this year, what you think of them. If another wave of them was necessary in your opinion, and just how much TV ratings really play into this whole thing?
COACH IZZO: I like the 30-second. We played over in Europe this summer, we played with a 24-second. If it were up to me, if I was the Czar for the day, I'd try to get every rule like the NBA, personally. I just think that we'd have a better working relationship. It would make sense to me. It would -- wouldn't be able to sell the D-League as easy, that there's a change in the game. Everything would be the same. You wouldn't have 13 lines on the floor. You know, we moved that line back on the charge which, to me, was a great idea. And the women kept theirs. And we finally got the 3-point lines the same.
So I'm just going to get it like it's -- not the gym at Northern Michigan, where I went, where there were volleyball lines and basketball lines and hard to figure out where you are.
I think if we get more unified -- maybe not to the 24-second clock, maybe 30 might seem fine. But if it was up to me, I'd like to see them move the ball. The new 5-second call, I think, I'm great with because I think it's a touchy call; is he 6 feet away, is he 4 feet away? You know, take those decisions out of the zebras' hands, and I think it's going to be better for our game.
As far as TV goes, I don't know if TV had anything to do with these, but I like them. And I wish they'd take one more step and unify our entire basketball from high school to pro ball, and I think we'd be better off personally.
Q. Do you think it's going that way?
COACH IZZO: Do I think it's going that way? You know, I get disappointed on the committees I'm on. I think you always hear, "Well, you don't want to be like the NBA." Why not? That's what the kids want. And so I do think -- you know, it's interesting. The women are experimenting with the four quarters. We played with that over in -- I mean, that's their rule in Europe. I kind of like that. I don't think we have to have a 48-minute game, but 40 minute game where you can move the ball at the end. Where, you know, every ball isn't an out-of-bounds underneath. I mean, I love some of the NBA rules, personally. And we've got them now where you can't touch anybody out in the perimeter and they can't touch anybody out in the perimeter.
So do I see it going that way? I don't know. It's up to other people than me. I said what I'd like, that was just personal opinion.
Q. Tom, some of the autonomy discussions among the Power 5 conferences, that it's time that seems to be a real issue for college student-athletes, and with college basketball, there's been a backtracking, I guess, of practicing -- even practice earlier, even though they have the same number, you get to work out in the summer a little bit more often.
Do you think that there is -- has it reached its limit of what you can do with student-athletes, or do you think that's going to backtrack at all in the future to limit time demands on them?
COACH IZZO: I think it's a joke, personally. I mean, are we going to run a time on Twitter? Are we going to limit -- we're so worried about the players that we don't want to practice, we don't want to do this? There's no coach -- coaches are smarter than we used to be. We're not going to beat a kid to death, you know? But sometimes I wonder when these new things come out, who are they polling? Are they polling the basketball player or are they polling the student-athletes? Because every sport is different, you know? I don't see surgeons worrying about their time. I don't see musicians worrying about theirs. But for some reason, we want to give the guys more time. When we give them more time, there seems to be more trouble. And then we get in trouble.
So I struggle with that thing. Most of my players that I know right now -- and I think this is the way I like it. I mean, I asked Denzel, "You think we're tired? You think we're this? You think we're that? We've got guys driven to be great. They want to be in the gym. They want to be practice. I mean, I don't think I always have to be there. But I think we make too big a deal about this. It was like when we said somebody is starving and didn't get to eat dinner, and all of a sudden we change all the rules. You know, who's kidding who? I struggle with that a little bit.
I wish that we just poll basketball players and football players, gymnasts, whatever their sport is, each sport might be different. I don't know many guys that don't want to be in the gym. And if they want to keep taking hours away, it's the same for everybody. I question some of that.
Read all of BTPowerhouse's preview coverage for the 2015-16 Big Ten season here.