It has been six months of uncertainty since Michigan State basketball and the rest of the college hoops  world slammed on the brakes in March.

The pandemic and ensuing shutdown did not give Tom Izzo and his staff much of an opportunity to work hands-on with the Spartans as in previous offseasons. But the Hall of Fame coach has been impressed with the maturity of his returning players as they try to seek the consistency he demands.

“The one thing I did enjoy about the summer because everybody was sacrificing, I thought everybody made good improvements,” Izzo told the Free Press Tuesday by phone Tuesday. "I didn't walk away, even to the staff, and say, 'Well, that guy wasted the summer.' So that was encouraging.”

That meant trying to keep his players focused on a number of things via phone and video calls and text messages over the past six months — checking in to make sure they are not going out in large crowds, seeing how they are doing academically with remote classes, figuring out how much basketball-related work they have been getting in on top of it all.