Spartans duo keeps winning after games

Spartans duo keeps winning after games

Published Apr. 2, 2012 8:23 a.m. ET

The honors keep coming in for Michigan State's Draymond Green and Tom Izzo.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) has named Green the National Player of the Year and Izzo the Coach of the Year.

While Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis is winning most of the Player of the Year honors, coaches typically have a soft spot for seniors like Green.

Izzo, the NABC's outgoing president, also won the award from the coaches in 2001.

Only two other Spartan players have ever won any type of national Player of the Year award. Scott Skiles was honored by the Basketball Times in 1986 and Shawn Respect was recognized by the NABC and Sporting News in 1995.

"It means a lot to be one of only three players of the great Spartan tradition to win a player of the year award," Green said. "We're talking about greats like (Steve) Smith, (Mateen) Cleaves, (Magic) Johnson, (Greg) Kelser and many more.

"For me to win an award of such great magnitude means a lot for me to be able to contribute to making this an even better program. I consider myself lucky to follow in their footsteps.

"Coming to Michigan State from Saginaw High School, I knew I was talented but my work ethic wasn't where it needed to be. I always thought I was capable of doing some good things and helping my team win, but I didn't envision that I was a player of the year level player. I wasn't quite sure how to take that next step. I was fortunate enough to have coach Izzo and (assistant) coach Dwayne Stephens and all the assistants show me the way and made me believe."

Green averaged 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists while leading the Spartans to a 29-8 record, a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship and the conference-tournament title.

Michigan State, which wasn't even ranked in the preseason, received a No. 1 seed before losing to Louisville in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

"You don't get to coach a player like Draymond Green very often, but you appreciate it while you can," Izzo said. "His efforts, along with those of his fellow seniors and all his teammates, are responsible for my award.

"I've always said that no coach ever gets to make a shot, grab a rebound or make a defensive stop. Players play the game, and this year's team gave me everything they had. As a coach, that's all you can ask."