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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 11:17 am

Izzo bars cells, happily watches Spartans yap away

By LARRY LAGEAP Sports Writer

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whose Public Enemy No. 1 is social networking, has figured out a way to help the Spartans stay focused when they're on the road during the NCAA tournament.

Izzo told his team no one could have a cellphone while on the team bus or during meetings at a suburban Detroit hotel while they prepared to play Valparaiso and Memphis last week.

And, he loved what happened: Instead of seeing his players with their heads bowed and fingers touching screens, they were kicking it old school with face-to-face communication.

"I tapped my assistant and I said, `You want to hear something crazy, listen,'" Izzo recalled. "It was like, no insult intended, a beauty parlor where everybody had their hair dryers on and were yapping, yapping, yapping. I was amazed. And, it was enjoyable."

Izzo has lamented his lack of leadership on the team, and hopes forcing his players to talk to each other more might bring the team together more when it matters most this season.

Players will be able to take and make calls, text and tweet, this week when they're in Indianapolis - while in their hotel rooms - as Michigan State makes its fifth appearance in the regional semifinals in six years and 11th in 16 straight NCAA tournaments under Izzo.

The third-seeded Spartans are slight underdogs against second-seeded Duke in a matchup of marquee coaches. Izzo is 1-1 in the NCAA tournament against the Mike Krzyzewski-led Blue Devils and is 0-5 against him and them in the regular season.