The voice from above bellowed over the loudspeaker, as Michigan State basketball ran scrimmaged Saturday.
But that man wasn't hiding behind a curtain up in the suites. It wasn't any god from above, either.
Tom Izzo was back at Breslin Center.
The Spartans' revered coach returned to observe practice this weekend and was in his office Monday to prepare for the season opener Wednesday against Eastern Michigan (6 p.m., BTN).
"The guys were excited to see him, we were excited to see him," associated head coach Dwayne Stephens said Monday after practice. "Obviously, he hasn't missed a lot of days. I've been here for 17 years now, and I never had seen coach not at practice or not around the office, so it was a little weird. So when he walked in there, it was good to see him."
Izzo tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 9 and had been isolated in his home since. In a statement, he thanked MSU's medical staff and doctors for helping him the past two weeks.
"While some people who have tested positive have not been affected too much by it, I am here to tell you that this virus is no joke and everyone must take this seriously," Izzo said.
In the two weeks Izzo was sidelined, Stephens ran the team along with assistants Dane Fife and Mike Garland. Izzo applauded Stephens and the rest of his staff "for their hard work and dedication" in his absence.
Senior guard Joshua Langford on Monday said Izzo had been preparing his players and staff all summer for a situation where someone would be out for a stretch with COVID-19. No one realized it would be the Hall of Fame coach, as he prepared for his 26th season in charge of the Spartans.
"Everybody just kind of just pitched in a little more," Langford said. "Of course, it was different that he wasn't there, but he prepared us for it. And I think we handled it well, and we got better."
Even from afar, Izzo tried to keep things consistent for his team. He watched practice remotely from his home in East Lansing thanks to cameras set up by his video team. Players said he would call during breaks to let them know what he was seeing.
"The best part about it was coach said, 'Don't look over your shoulder. Go out there, do what you gotta do, feel comfortable you know what you're doing and do whatever you have to do and be comfortable in doing that.' And that's what I tried to do," Stephens said. "Obviously we talked a lot after practices. Coach watched the practices, and he told me some things that he saw and thought that we could do better. And those were the things that we tried to correct the next day."
Said Izzo, "It was hard for me to be away from my team and our players, but I also understood the challenges associated with this virus and the need for me to isolate and follow proper protocol to ensure that I was healthy enough to return to work."
Izzo went easy on his first day back by letting Stephens handle media obligations and his weekly coaches show that debuted Monday night. It played into what he has been telling his players since this summer.
And Izzo's absence before the opener is one both Stephens and Langford believe will make MSU a better team in the long run.
"We just have to be able to make those adjustments and to be able to just go with the flow of things," Langford said. "Because the way everything is right now, there's no certainty. And so when there's not that much certainty around us, we have to have consistency within ourselves and within our team. So when you build that consistent mindset and just be consistent in everything that you do, when you see uncertainty around you, it won't necessarily affect you."(c)2020 Detroit Free Press Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC