Tom Izzo dismisses Chris Allen

August, 4, 2010
I have to admit: I did not see that one coming.

Sure, Tom Izzo was always vague. In retrospect, his non-committal attitude toward Michigan State senior Chris Allen's potential departure from the program -- which Izzo discussed almost immediately after the season but left hanging for much of summer since -- was probably not a good sign.

And now we know for sure: Michigan State released a statement Tuesday evening announcing that Allen would not be returning to the Spartans in 2010-11. Izzo and Allen both gave quotes:
Izzo: “It’s been no secret that Chris Allen’s been in a tenuous position since the spring. There were multiple obligations that Chris had to meet in order to return for his senior season. While he did make progress through the summer, he has failed to meet all the obligations and will not be a part of our program this fall. I know he’s going to be a great player. He deserves another chance to play basketball somewhere, but it’s in everyone’s interest that it be somewhere other than Michigan State. Like every player, he has to mature a little bit. I think a year away from the game will be beneficial for his development as a person and a player."

And Allen: “Coach was straight-forward with me about what I needed to do to remain a part of the team. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet all the obligations. I have enjoyed my time at Michigan State and I appreciate all the support from my fans, and everyone associated with the program. It’s unfortunate things didn’t work out, but I’m leaving on good terms with my teammates and coaches.”

This is a little confusing for a few reasons. For one, it's never exactly been clear what obligations Izzo is referring to. As The Only Colors noted Tuesday night, Allen seemed to buy in to Izzo's system on the court last season -- he was the team's best perimeter defender and an efficient outside threat, and despite a brief suspension for the Big Ten tournament, he had a thoroughly productive junior year. It's possible Allen's issues happened off the court. With so little detail, it's hard to say. But it sure is baffling.

It's also a big blow for Allen, who was playing summer ball in East Lansing and seemed optimistic about his chances of returning. (It also renders Derrick Nix's predictions obsolete.) Instead, Allen will be forced to look for a school willing to take him on for his final year of eligibility.

More than anything, though, it means the Spartans will be one contributor less in the coming season. The good news is that Michigan State is loaded, deep, talented, and a reasonable Final Four projection even without Allen. The bad news is that Allen's skills were specific and beneficial, and his departure could be the difference between a national title season and something slightly less.

Michigan State will have to adapt. Whatever Izzo's issues with Allen, he's apparently willing to take bet his team can do just that.



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