Izzo, Nix diverge on use of Twitter

Izzo, Nix diverge on use of Twitter

Published Jan. 15, 2013 6:33 p.m. ET

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Much to the chagrin of his coach, Michigan State senior center Derrick Nix is obsessed with the feedback he receives on Twitter.

He often stops to check both negative and positive tweets from Spartans fans before, during and after postgame interviews with reporters.

Because of his frequent up and downs, Nix is something of a lightning rod for fan opinion. Looking to motivate and justify himself, Nix retweets the good, bad and ugly.

After putting up just seven points and seven rebounds in Thursday's victory at Iowa, he received the following tweets:

“Derrick Nix suck. I swear.”

“Derrick Nix, last one down the court, first one (in) the cafeteria.”

Nix -- the 2009 Mr. Basketball out of Detroit Pershing High School -- has slimmed down from 340 to 270 pounds since arriving at MSU, but he’s still on the heavy side and doesn't have the best footwork.

He tweeted after that game: “Only GOD can judge me.”

The Twitter judges were kinder after he scored a team-high 17 points in Sunday’s win over Nebraska. He received this tweet: “Wheres all the @DerrickNix25 haters now?!”

Nix is fourth on the team in scoring average (9.4 points) and shares the rebounding lead with Adreian Payne (7.2).

As of Tuesday afternoon, Nix was following just two Twitter accounts. One was a friend and the other was Spartans football punter Mike Sadler, who is funny and insightful. Sadler’s description at @Sadler_3: “I punt footballs and tell bad jokes.”

Nix has 2,460 followers. He's sent 26 tweets, most of them relating to his faith in God or marking a Spartans victory: “R.I.P. ta da competition.”

“I know,” coach Tom Izzo said when told of Nix’s postgame ritual. “You know, that’s after I talked to him about it.

"They all think they can handle it. I’m gonna tell you something, guys: There ain’t none of us — are you ready, not even my man (current Alabama and former MSU football coach) Nick (Saban) — there ain’t none of us that can handle getting crucified and not knowing who’s crucifying them.”

Izzo despises this social-media avenue and has talked to the team about ignoring it. He said before the season: “Twitter is going to get us all fired.”

The coach still has an active Twitter account (@Tom_Izzo) with 7,305 followers, but he hasn't sent a tweet in 10 months.

There's a fake account (@NotTomIzzo) with 599 followers and 1,621 tweets sent. It mostly deals in sarcasm.

Official team information and stats are tweeted by @MSU_Basketball, which has 36,020 followers.

Twitter has become another baby-sitting consideration for coaches.

Spartans football coach Mark Dantonio can relate. He had to come down on his players after they berated officials and fans following a home loss to Notre Dame this season.

Additionally, Le’Veon Bell and Dion Sims confirmed they were passing on their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft through their Twitter accounts.

Most of the MSU football and basketball players have accounts. Star point guard Keith Appling is an exception. He doesn't have one because he sees Twitter as an unneeded distraction.

One of Nix’s few tweets unrelated to basketball was about Appling -- his good friend and former Pershing teammate -- falling out of his chair in a class.

“It’s what I’m gonna write my book on when I’m dead and gone from here,” Izzo said of Twitter and its effects in a Detroit Free Press story. "But I really think it has some significant and serious impact.

"You know what? I’m being proactive the other way. I’m talking to my kids about it and explaining. That’s why I always say it’s us against the world, and you’ve gotta hone in here.”