Caught up with Tom Izzo on Wednesday on a variety of topics, one of which is the status of his newest vegetarian Derrick Nix.
Yes, you read that right. In his continual quest to lose weight, Nix tweeted Tuesday that he has become a vegetarian. “As of yesterday day- Ive decided to change my life in a different way as of 9/20/12 I am a vegetarian and will remain this way until 9/20/13″ … which, obviously 9/20 is September. But still, a vegetarian diet requires a lot of focus and resolve. Or so I’ve heard.
Izzo said 6-foot-9 Nix left for break with his weight in the 260s – already an amazing body change from the near 300 pounds Nix carried when he arrived at MSU. As a fellow man who loves to eat, I wish good luck to Nix on his journey. He can feel free to give me any and all steaks he doesn’t want anymore.
This is just one of a number of things the senior center has tried to change in his life since being arrested in April and then pleading to an impaired driving charge. Izzo said Nix has been working with former Spartan Steve Smith and their former Detroit Pershing High coach A.W. Canada to atone for his transgression and improve himself.
“Put it this way: We set some things up for him at the beginning of the summer, and he’s exceeded all of them,” Izzo said of Nix. “Where does that put him? It puts him in a better frame going into the season. And still, he’ll be doing community service and things that aren’t mandated by anybody but me and him. We’re going to truly make him a better player and a better person, and that’s what we’re working on.”
And Izzo said he has “no reservations on anything” and thinks Nix is “moving in the right direction” now.
“He’s on thinner ice than other people, there’s no question about it,” Izzo said. “But if I look at the last year and a half, he had one stupid night screw-up.”
On a few other topics:
* Izzo said sophomore forward Branden Dawson returned to working on drills against other players and continues to make rapid progress in healing from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and resultant surgery back in March. And the coach said that after some early summer struggles in coping with his first time being sidelined by an injury, Dawson has rehabbed with an intense focus over the past 2 ½ months.
“If there’s ever an injury that might help a kid, this one might because I think he learned to appreciate how fast it can be taken away,” Izzo said. “It helped his focus, being on the sideline. He became a better leader. I really expect BJ to take a monster step, and then I catch myself and say, ‘How can he do that when he just missed six months?’ … But if there’s ever a guy who can do it, it’s him.”
* Izzo said Travis Trice was enjoying “a phenomenal summer” before the sophomore contracted what the coach said was classified as a bacterial infection. Trice is back working out again, but the illness cost the point guard seven weeks of work and about 15 pounds as he fought it off.
* Another player Izzo cited for a strong developmental summer, sophomore guard Brandan Kearney, continued to improve his shot and added about 15 pounds of muscle. Izzo said Kearney will be vital with his versatility and the coach’s goal to “run 200 percent more.”
* Sophomore shooting guard Russell Byrd, who has battled left foot problems even before arriving in East Lansing, is “about 95 percent healthy” right now, Izzo said. “It’s just now a matter of getting all that leg strength back that he couldn’t use.”
Also, Spartan81 wanted me to mention this with the changeover to the Spartan Shadows blog from Hey, Joe. The anonymous commenting system, while at times frustrating, does have some merit. ”I have a favor to ask of you, we do have MSU athletes who read your posts and are gracious enough to talk with us lowly fans … If you could just mention in your blog that MSU icons do read and participate that would be great.”
To all of you, athletes and fans, I say welcome. Hopefully, Brian and I can keep you guys entertained and informed.