I heard a lot this basketball season: "Tom Izzo got out-coached again!"

Now, I hear Spartan fans saying: "Next year looks pretty bleak."

Are you guys new? Tom Izzo has consistently done a great job with a team that had little expectations. Plus, he has made 17 straight NCAA tournaments. A man with these credentials deserves much more respect than he's getting.

I felt bad for coach Sunday when MSU was playing U-Conn. Before the game he said he wanted to make this "a special year for MSU fans" with the Rose Bowl victory and run at the final 4.Then Keith Appling was having a horrible game and coach Izzo stuck with him. Not because he was the best player but because he was a senior who had invested in the program. If Izzo benched Appling it sends a message to other players, Tom Izzo is NOT a players coach. And is he ever. We may have lost the game but he won some points in player popularity. Which is always good for recruiting.

He is the reason top high school players come to East Lansing. He won the National Championship back in 2000. He developed Adreian Payne into the monster he became. The name of the student section is the IZZONE. What would it be if Tom is lured to the NBA? It freaks me out to think of MSU without Tom Izzo. Not only has been a fantastic ambassador for basketball, he's been a great face for the entire State of Michigan. His success at MSU is unequaled. 6 FINAL 4's. 7 Big 10 Championships. 2 appearances in the NCAA Final. 3 time Big 10 coach of the year.

Now, just because Gary Harris and Branden Dawson may leave early, everyone is turning into Chicken Little and the sky is falling! People need to chill out and look at the big picture. Denzell Valentine won 2 state championships while he was at Sexton. Travis Trice is set to have a fantastic senior year. Kenny Kaminski really impressed me with his outside shooting this year. Gavin Schilling and Alvin Ellis III developed and we saw flashes of their potential. Matt Costello looked like a beast at times. Now, imagine if Gary Harris and Branden Dawson return. How good could this team be? Plus, 3 incoming freshmen we haven't even seen yet. Payne surprised us by coming back last year. Harris needs to improve his ball handling but his shot is ready for the NBA. Branden Dawson didn't have such a great last game and needs to come back to work on his shot and consistency.

It will take a few guys to replace Payne but they are in place and to just assume next year will be bleak is extremely short sighted. Give the coach some credit for making the Elite 8 for the 8th time in his career. Some teams never make it to the Elite 8. Spartan fans have had it so good for so long they are beginning to expect to compete for the National Championship every year. That expectation is unrealistic. It takes a lot of bounces to go your way to win a championship. U-Conn out-hustled MSU Sunday and seemed to want it more. It wasn't that he got out-coached, MSU got out-hustled and outplayed. U-Conn got some favorable calls and hit some lucky shots.

We have one of the greatest, iconic coaches in college basketball history. It's about time we start treating him that way. The sky isn't falling Spartan fans... It's brighter than ever.

In the immortal words of Cinderella: "Don't know what you got, 'til it's gone." Expectations were high heading into the season ranked #2. Expectations will be lower next year and that's when the coach does his best work. He deserves the benefit of doubt and a big THANK YOU from every Spartan fan. Not criticism.

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