MARQUETTE - He coached his team in a game against North Carolina last season on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
Nov. 9, longtime Michigan State University men's basketball coach Tom Izzo will lead his Spartans in a contest on a U.S. Air force Base.
MSU will take on the University of Connecticut in a non-conference game at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Beacon House Golf Classic host Steve Mariucci, left, chats with longtime friend and Michigan State University men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo in Marquette on Thursday. Izzo is hopeful his Spartans will turn in another banner campaign in 2012-13. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"It's a real honor ESPN has selected us to play (there)," Izzo said Thursday while participating in the Beacon House Golf Classic in Marquette. "It's the first regular season college game to be played in Europe, I think.
"It's all about playing for the troops."
Izzo. who's 412-69 at MSU entering his 18th season at the helm, said the exposure for his Spartans will be immense.
"The TV audience will be worldwide," he said. "It'll be sent to every (U.S.) base in the world."
Izzo's Spartans went 29-8 last season, capturing a share of the Big 10 regular season title before claiming the league's tournament crown.
MSU made it to the NCAA's postseason Sweet 16 Tournament before losing to Louisville, 57-44.
"We had one of the worst shooting performances of the year vs. Louisville," Izzo, 57, said.
"Part of it was them, part of it was us.
"But it was a great year for us. We went further than I thought we would at the beginning of the year, but not as far as I would have hoped at the end.
"That's what happens when you get to the Sweet 16," he added. "You have to be good enough to get there and lucky enough to move on."
The Iron Mountain native and Northern Michigan University graduate said his MSU team "should be good" this coming season.
"But the Big 10 will be really good, too," he said. "We lost a star (in senior Draymond Green), but we have a lot of young guys (with experience) who will be back."
Junior guard Keith Appling, junior center Adreian Payne and sophomore guard Branden Dawson will return to lead MSU.
Izzo added recruit Gary Harris, a 6-4 guard from Fishers, Ind., is an "incredible guy."
"Hopefully, he'll be an instant guy we can depend on," the coach said.
After opening with UConn, the Spartans will play perennial power Kansas.
A home date with another non-conference team in the Texas Longhorns is also on the 2012-13 slate.
"It will be a tough schedule," Izzo said. "The Big 10 has gotten better and with our (unbalanced league) schedule, we play the three worst teams just once.
"I'd rather play them twice and the best teams once."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is email@example.com.