Marcus Bingham Jr. and Gabe Brown helped Foster Loyer reach the Final Four. As a freshman, he was a team captain and assisted in teaching point guard AJ Hoggard the ropes. Tom Izzo has been a friend of his since the beginning of his illustrious career at Clarkston High School.
He’s now attempting to send them all home from the NCAA Tournament.
Tom Izzo, Michigan State’s head coach, remarked, “I know our players probably felt a bit uncomfortable.”
“Foster Loyer didn’t leave here in a negative way; he left here in a terrific way, and a lot of those guys, a lot of them, keep in touch with him – I talk to him every couple of weeks, along with Rock(et Watts), (Thomas) Kithier, and Jack Hoiberg.”
The No. 7 seed Spartans will face Loyer’s Davidson Wildcats, the No. 10 seed in the West Region, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which is strange but not shocking. In Greenville, South Carolina, they’ll go at it about 9:40 p.m. on Friday.
“I think it’s appropriate for television.” “It’s great for television,” Izzo said. “We’ve got to get down to their part of the country.” He’s more familiar with our offense than we are with his. But, at the same time, I know we’re watching a terrific show that does things correctly. As I already stated, I was a Foster fan before, during, and after.”
Loyer has emerged as one of the catalysts for a Davidson team that is 27-6 and won the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship, the greatest mid-major league in the country, for those who lost sight of him once he packed his bags and saw East Lansing go in his rearview mirror.
Loyer was a Day 1 starter for the Wildcats and enters into the tournament as their leading scorer with 16.4 points per game. He’s averaging 3.3 assists per game and shooting 44.5 percent on 3-pointers. He was named to the second team of the All-Atlantic 10 as one of three Davidson players.
He’s gone from being a joke to being the driving force behind the program that produced NBA superstar Stephen Curry. The Wildcats, who lost to Richmond in the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game on Sunday, may not make their fifth NCAA Tournament berth without him.
“Listen, I’ve admired Foster since I was in ninth grade,” Izzo explained. “I believe he is a coach on the court.” I believe he is the smartest character I’ve ever played. Bob should include him in their scouting report; he’s probably more valuable than their assistants, and that isn’t meant as a slight. However, he is familiar with our players, as well as me and our moves. Players, on the other hand, continue to play the game.”
On the other side of the transfer portal, Loyer discovered a fit that never developed at MSU. He can also run it with the Wildcats next year if he wants, according to the COVID-19 pandemic eligibility waiver. Back in East Lansing, Bingham and Brown, two members of his freshman signing class, are important starters attempting to finish their careers the way they began.
“My relationship with Foster is quite close,” Brown stated. “Marky, Foster, and I are all very close and treat one other as brothers.” It’ll be a thrilling game to play him, and it’ll be a wonderful game for us. I’m sure Foster will be ecstatic to see us as well. It’ll just be a lot of positive vibes and a lot of wonderful energy.”
As Izzo stated, Loyer has a fearsome awareness of MSU’s system and players between his ears. The Spartans, on the other hand, know quite a bit about him.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Hoggard remarked. “He’s aware of what to expect from us.” I barely had a year of true competition with Foster. Our bond is quite strong (good). In the other group chat, we had last year, we’re still talking. We keep an eye on him and the things he’s done this year. (He) performed a fantastic job. We’re still Foster Loyer supporters, so seeing one of our former players who we’ll be playing against in the first game is a nice moment.”
If point guard Tyson Walker is injured or slowed by the damaged ankle he suffered in Saturday’s defeat to Purdue, Hoggard is likely to see a lot of Loyer, who averages 30.2 minutes per game with his new squad. One of the early matchups to watch in this one is if the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Hoggard’s frame can help him control the 6-0, 175-pound Loyer.
Hoggard described the defensive task as “just not allowing him get to his shot.” “I’m studying the film, viewing the video, and trying to figure out what his sweet spots are and what he enjoys doing. Things I missed out on since I wasn’t watching their games all the time.”
Loyer isn’t the only Davidson player MSU needs to worry about; he’s simply the most intriguing. Hyunjung Lee (16), Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Luka Brajkovic (14.2), and Michael Jones are the other three Wildcats in double figures (11.9). Four of Davidson’s five starters shoot at least 40 percent from a distance when Sam Mennenga (8.2) is included. Lee, the fifth, is a smidgeon lower at 38%.
Izzo stated, “We have a good team, they have a good team.” “We’d both be seeded higher if we didn’t have our flaws.” … I watched them more to watch Foster and because I know (head coach) Bob (McKillop), but not to say, ‘Hey, what would we do against this and that?'”
Because of the relationship he’s maintained with Loyer, who still has a place in his heart, Izzo has seen them “very often” this season, including Sunday’s game against Richmond. Loyer is now going to try to shatter it.