Tom Izzo is used to being vocal. As you can see by the photo of Izzo with the microphone, he’s very well-accustomed to addressing the Michigan State faithful and his own team.
Now that Michigan State enters the 2013-14 season with incredibly high expectations — multiple publications have listed the Spartans as their preseason No. 1 team — they’re searching for a vocal leader that isn’t Tom Izzo.
Although the Spartans return four starters and a lot of experience after last season’s brutal Big Ten stretch, one of the major questions they have entering the season is who will lead them on the floor.
The Spartans began practice yesterday and as the AP’s Larry Lage reported, Izzo is still searching for the leader(s) of this year’s Michigan State team.
While Izzo is fired up about his talented and experienced roster, he isn’t sure who his leaders will be this season.
“We just actually met for an hour about it,” Izzo said before practice.
None of the four returning starters — Adreian Payne, Keith Appling, Branden Dawson or Harris — is considered a natural leader, but Izzo wants at least one of them to become more vocal.
“I’m not into leading by example at all,” Izzo said. “Cop out. Hate it. Despise it.”
The lack of a true leader at this point in the season isn’t a make-or-break proposition by any means, but it is interesting that a team considered by many to be No. 1 has uncertainty.
I’m sure the Spartans would just be happy if Branden Dawson and Gary Harris stayed healthy through the whole season and Adreian Payne and Keith Appling performed up to expectations during every game, but finding a vocal leader will be one of many interesting storylines surrounding Michigan State early in the season.
Lage noted in the story that Gary Harris is close to returning from his sprained ankle, with Izzo saying, “It’s so early in the year, I think he’s a week away from doing anything physical.”
When Harris returns to health — and returns to form — he could be the Spartans’ best player, and ideally their vocal leader, before he potentially leaves East Lansing for the NBA Draft after the season.