Izzo respects Michigan; still doesn’t like them ‘one bit’

EAST LANSING — Tom Izzo says he doesn’t like anything about Michigan.

“I don’t know if hatred would ever be a good word, because if you respect somebody, you can’t hate ‘em,” Izzo said at his weekly news conference at the Breslin Center Monday, as his Spartans prepared to play Michigan on Tuesday night in Ann Arbor.

Izzo doesn’t like that, after MSU lost twice last year to U-M, some fans and media think the “tide is changing.” Nor does Izzo like what happened on the recruiting trail back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when, as an MSU assistant, he thought he had sewn up a commitment from Chris Webber.

Webber eventually chose U-M.

“There haven’t been many people in any sport that have gone through what I’ve gone through in that situation many years ago,” Izzo said. That will “live with me until they bury me … and I want it to.”

Izzo said the rivalry is personal, and that it should be “if you want to be the best at something.”

This is why he said he tries to recruit guys that “care about Michigan State.”

Forward Draymond Green, he said, is the ultimate player in that respect. Green said he doesn’t want to lose to U-M in any sport, at any time. The senior co-captain attended the MSU women’s game against Ohio State at the Breslin Center on Sunday. Izzo was there, too.

The coach was so impressed by Green’s presence that he texted him late at night. His message? “I watched you today, and I appreciate you even more than when you play for me.”

Beating U-M, Green said, “is very personal for me, (I’m) not going to lie about it.”

Like coach, like player.

Last year’s losses to U-M stung. Now comes a game with both teams ranked for the first time in more than a decade. It means more, admitted Green.

“Both teams are in the running to do great things,” he said.

He respects where U-M is. So does Izzo.

“So if you are asking me do I respect John Beilein? Tremendously. Do I respect Michigan? Tremendously. Do I like ‘em? Not one bit.”

Michigan and Michigan State take on each other at 7 p.m. tonight at Crisler Arena.

MSU is 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten this season, while Michigan has started the year 14-4 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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