Tom Izzo cleaned his closet. He plans on cleaning his garage. He slept until 9 a.m. Saturday morning and he can't remember the last time he stayed in bed that late.
Though the extra zzz's came after he'd risen at 5 a.m. to watch a little film. Because, well, "it was something to do."
He wanted to study his Michigan State basketball team, he supposes. To remember what they'd become the last two weeks of the season. To think about what they might have become if they'd gotten the chance to keep playing.
He can't help it. Can you blame him?
The unknown is unforgiving that way.
And if you ask Izzo what's harder: Losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Middle Tennessee State with a team good enough to win a title? Or losing the chance to play? He'll tell you not playing is what leaves a void.
"We're all wondering what might have been," he said Saturday morning from his home in East Lansing, trying to find ways to fill the emptiness created by the coronavirus pandemic. "This is the first time in 40 years I haven't been coaching - or watching - basketball this time of the year."
And so, he is cleaning. Organizing. Sleeping. Spending time with his family.
"Trying to be a real father, a real husband ... maybe a real human," he said.
He's watching documentaries on the NFL Network. He has even watched a movie, though he couldn't remember the name of it.
Oh, there is business to tend to. He will lobby on behalf of an NCAA tournament selection process, so that the bracket is official, and teams that hadn't made the tournament in years could say they had.
"Players deserve the chance to tell their children about it," he said.
He will call folks in the NBA on behalf of his senior point guard, Cassius Winston, and junior forward, Xavier Tillman, to gauge where they might get drafted.
He can still call recruits.
But, really, these are calls he'd be making anyway, squeezed around devising practice plans and meeting with players and running practice and coaching games and talking to alumni groups and fulfilling media requests and huddling with school administrators and all the other responsibilities and tasks that come with being the coach of a basketball program at a place like MSU.
No wonder he hadn't slept past daybreak in a couple decades. No wonder he isn't sure what to do with himself some 48 hours after he got word NCAA basketball was finished.
He got the news at practice Thursday morning, an hour before he and his team were to board a bus to Indianapolis - site of the Big Ten tournament - when MSU's director of basketball operations, David Thomas, walked in and told him the league canceled the rest of the tournament.
"We were having the best practice of the year," Izzo said. "You should've seen the way Cassius was playing. At one point I walked by (recruiting coordinator) Doug Wojcik and told him, 'We have a chance to do some things.'"
Winston, Izzo said, was learning how to cope with the loss of his brother - at least on the court. He'd taken his game to another level. His enthusiasm was at another level. It was clear watching him play in the regular-season finale against Ohio State. The smiling. The dancing. The interplay with the crowd.
Three months after the death of Zachary Winston, MSU was finally starting to look like one of the best teams in the country. The Spartans had won five games in a row, winning a share of the conference title.
"And I kept telling my players, 'Who is that much better than us?' Somebody was going to get hot. Why not us?"
Now he had to tell them there would be no trip to Indianapolis. Sensing the NCAA tournament might fall next, he called a 4 p.m. team meeting. Official word came at 4:20.
"That was hard," he said. "There were tears. Those seniors ... they were half worried, half scared, half mad, every emotion there is, I think they had. I looked at Cash. He was stunned."
He told the team this was bigger than basketball. That in a season centered on the ultimate life lesson, here was another reminder: Live every day. You never know when things are going to be taken.
The meeting broke up and Izzo asked Winston, Kyle Ahrens and Connor George - his three seniors - to join him in his office. They talked about their careers. He talked about what they meant to him. How much they'd overcome. How much they'd accomplished.
The next day - Friday - he spent 30 minutes with every player on his roster. He called them exit interviews, like the NBA holds. He started early and finished in the late afternoon.
By 6 p.m., the school already had announced it was shutting down its classrooms. The campus was nearly empty. Izzo walked out of his office - the last one to leave - hopped in his car and drove home, about the time his team was supposed to take the floor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
"It was strange," he said, "even surreal."
Though he found a little light when he joked with his wife, Lupe, that for the second time in his career, he finished the season with a victory.
Somehow, in a season like no other in his 25 years, the end seemed fitting, eerily so. There was nothing he could do. Nothing his team could do.
He wasn't sure what to do at home that night. He made a few calls. He watched television. He imagined what kind of run his team might have gone on. He spent time with his family.
The next morning, he slept.
When he woke up, he began thinking about the summer, about when he will be able to get back on the road to recruit, about next year's roster, about how to fill the calendar the next month or more, about cleaning his garage, about finding ways to rejuvenate his soul for the first time in decades.
He has never had such a block of time.
"It's unprecedented," he said, "maybe it's time to see what the other side of life is like."
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