Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski became the latest figure in the college basketball world this week to question why teams are playing amid the worst COVID-19 spike the country has seen since the pandemic began.
Krzyzewski then announced that the Blue Devils were canceling the rest of their non-conference schedule in order to allow his players to spend the holiday season at home with their families.
Though Michigan State coach Tom Izzo — who led the Spartans to a win over Krzyzewski earlier this season — respects what Duke has opted to do, taking a break isn’t a path that he wants to lead his program down.
“I am not here to judge somebody else, especially people I have respect for,” Izzo said Friday, via The Detroit News. “The only thing I would question for all of us is basketball players love to play basketball.
“For us here, this is what we’ve chosen. For Mike, that’s what he’s chosen.”
Tom Izzo: ‘We’re doing what’s best for us’
The coronavirus has caused plenty of issues throughout college basketball already this season — which isn’t even a month in yet.
Over 50 games have already been canceled or postponed due to outbreaks, and several programs have had to suspend activities. Several prominent coaches have contracted the virus already, including Izzo himself, and the Spartans’ matchup with Virginia earlier this week was canceled at the last minute due to an outbreak within the Cavaliers’ program.
In the meantime, players are essentially quarantined on their respective campuses with no break in sight.
“They’re almost in prison,” Izzo said earlier this week. “I don’t want to make light of it, but it’s more difficult than we all think.”
Izzo said the program is planning a virtual Christmas and holiday celebration later this month, since his players won’t be able to travel home to spend it with their families.
While it’s not as good as the real thing, Izzo believes that keeping his team together is the safest thing for them. If other programs want to take a break, Izzo said he has no issue with that, either — as long as they’re wearing a mask.
“There’s no way I don’t think my players would be mentally safer or physically safer than to be right here with us,” Izzo said, via The Detroit News. “We’re doing what’s best for us, and I respect everybody that’s doing what is best for them … expect if you don’t wear a mask. Then I have no respect for you.”
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