Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Tom Izzo figured he was in a bit of a no-win situation entering Tuesday night’s game against Duke.
“I was either gonna be the guy who threw the record-breaker to Henry Aaron or I was gonna be the guy who shot Bambi,” Izzo cracked after Michigan State lost to Duke, 74-69, to give Coach K career victory No. 903 at Madison Square Garden.
In the end, Izzo’s players didn’t have enough artillery to kill Bambi.
Coach K survived and advanced past his mentor Bob Knight into first place on the all-time Division 1 wins list.
Sparty is now 0-2 after opening the season with back-to-back losses to Tobacco Road powers North Carolina and Duke.
“We’re gonna grow from these two games,” Izzo said. “A lot of people think we’re insane. Sometimes I think I’m insane.
“But we’re gonna grow from it. When we get everyone playing better, we’re gonna get better as team.”
Sophomore guard Keith Appling (22 points on 8-of-10 shooting) was clearly a bright spot for Michigan State, but the big men struggled to put the ball in the hole even after establishing strong position down low.
Draymond Green went 4-for-15, Adreian Payne shot 1-for-6 and Derrick Nix was 1-for-7.
“We thought we had good position,” Izzo said. “We worked the ball in there pretty well and we just didn’t finish.”
Yet after losing to North Carolina on the USS Carl Vinson, and now falling to Duke in Coach K’s history-making moment, Izzo believes his team will benefit in the long run.
“I’d like to win a game here,” he said.
“But we’re gonna be a better basketball team in a week, in two weeks, in three weeks because we knuckled down and played these two games.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.