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Joey Hauser focused on Michigan State, not Marquette, ahead of matchup with former school

Jake Lyskawa03/18/23
Article written by:On3 imageJake Lyskawa


Joey Hauser runs out of tunnel on senior night
Michigan State forward Joey Hauser is not concerned with storylines surrounding a matchup with Marquette (Getty Images).

Columbus, Ohio – For as anticipated as No. 7-seed Michigan State’s Round of 32 matchup with No. 2-seed Marquette is due to Spartan forward Joey Hauser’s past with the Golden Eagles program, Hauser isn’t focused on that storyline at all.

“I don’t know any of the players or coaches there,” Hauser said. “It was a long time ago so I don’t have any ill will toward them. It’s just Michigan State vs. Marquette.”

That doesn’t mean that Hauser – a native of Stevens Point, Wis., who committed to his home-state program in July 2017 and spent one season there before transferring to Michigan State in 2018 – didn’t value the experiences he gained at his former school.

“(I) graduated high school early and I went there because of injury,” Hauser said. “A lot of work was done just to try to get back to playing shape. The training staff, the weight room staff, the strength staff did a really good job helping me out. Being with my brother was an unbelievable experience. Having him kind of show me the ropes of college basketball, getting used to the travel and playing in big games is definitely what helped me. Getting to Michigan State, sitting out that year was tough, but I think I’ve just kind of grown in those areas since I’ve gotten here.”

Hauser takes great pride in representing his home state and his home city, in particular. Those feelings will become even more meaningful in an NCAA Tournament game against a team from Wisconsin.

“(Representing Wiscinson) means a lot,” Hauser told a swarm of reporters from Milwaukee who are in town to cover Marquette. “Especially to represent my hometown. It just taught me so much. Athletics are a huge deal in Stevens Point. Even though it might be pretty small, it’s a tight-knit community. We’ve had a lot of really good athletes go on to professional levels and play on big stages. It just means a lot to represent my town, especially.”

Hauser is uncertain of the response that Marquette fans will have in seeing him play in person for the first time in roughly five years.

“I don’t know what the vibe is really,” Hauser said. “I know they were pretty upset when we (Hauser and his brother, Sam) first left. But who knows? I mean, the coach that coached me is not there anymore.”

Hauser signed with and played for former Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who was fired after the 2021 season. By that time, Hauser was in his second year at Michigan State University.

“Who knows exactly how they feel?” Hauser said. “But once again, it’s Michigan State versus Marquette, so I’m sure they’re going to be chanting either way, talking crap to us.”

Hauser is certain, though, that two particular Wisconsin locals will have his back in a battle against his former team – his parents. 

“They travel to every game,” Hauser said. “They’re superstars. It’s crazy the amount of miles they put down. I know I have some people (from Wisconsin) cheering for me.”

For as much as Hauser went through in his first three seasons at Michigan State – between sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, dealing with the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to find a consistent scoring touch –  he’s currently enjoying a career-best year.

Hauser doesn’t regret coming to Michigan State in 2018, and he certainly doesn’t regret coming back to pursue his Master’s degree and give collegiate basketball potentially one last shot this season. 

“It was a great decision,” Hauser said of returning to Michigan State. “Everything’s kind of worked itself out so far. I didn’t come in (to this season) with any expectations, really. I didn’t put much pressure on myself because I didn’t really know what to really expect. Everything’s just kind of been a treat. Playing in the NCAA Tournament, having a pretty good year, making some big shots – it’s all just fun to me. There’s no pressure, there’s no stress about it. (I’m) just having fun.”

What helped Hauser make such a leap in production between the previous two seasons and this one?

“Just being more confident in my shot, myself and my game,” Hauser said. “Stepping into a bigger role is something that I have always been willing to do. My teammates helped me out a lot in that aspect, just telling me to shoot the ball and making plays.”

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, who recruited Hauser out of high school, is proud of Hauser for returning to Michigan State this season and glad that he is reaping the benefits of all the work he’s put in this summer.

“There’s no question that COVID-19 pandemic affected a lot of people in a lot of different ways,” Izzo said. “I thought Joey was someone that it affected in a very negative way. Just the way you had to be by yourself and alone and all the things he went through, almost to the point where I’m not sure if he was going to play basketball or come back for this year. We had some long talks and it was almost like a lightbulb went on and he said, ‘I’m coming back.’ Then he started working.

“Last summer he was great. He’s been so good this year in a lot of ways. Sometimes we’re not even getting him enough shots. He’s just been a better rebounder. He’s taking care of his body like a pro guy. I don’t know if it’s his brother’s influence on him, but he’s even eating better, which is kind of illegal for a college guy.

“You love Joey Hauser, and if you know what he’s been through and how he’s responded, he’ll be a good guy for me to use in years to come about fighting through some adversity, people getting down on you and believing in yourself and hanging in there. I believed in him.”

Hauser led Michigan State with 17 points and eight rebounds in the Spartans’ 72-62 victory over USC in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. He has become a key factor in the Spartans’ offense this season and will be relied upon to lead Michigan State on Sunday.

“He wasn’t always a confident kid,” Izzo said. “I think that’s what’s changed the most this year. He misses shots now and it doesn’t eat him alive. You don’t have to tell him to keep shooting. It’s been fun to watch. He’s one of those success stories (where) you say, ‘He could’ve gone road left, he could’ve gone road right,’ (but) he picked the right road, and who knows where this is going to lead him? He’s going to be a lot more successful than a lot of people thought.”