What I enjoyed most about him was the guy never changed. From his playing days, to days when he won 60-some games, and then getting released — I never saw him change.

He was competitive but compassionate. And very innovative — innovative in his thinking. He wasn’t afraid to try things. The analytical things — which have become new and modern — Flip was talking about it six, seven years ago. Every new play he could come up with, he sold it. Every new gadget that came out, he bought it.

I used to like the 2-in-the-morning calls when he was watching the QVC channel and ordering some new gadget. He’d call me and I’d be telling him how dumb he is and why is he spending his money on that. If I lost a big game, it seemed like he was always calling me then. I swear he’d order more things than anyone I knew. I’m going to miss those times.

When there were rumors that he was looking at the Minnesota collegiate job and I said to myself, ‘Well, there goes Tyus Jones.’ We were recruiting him hard and I said, ‘If Flip gets the job, he’s going to clean up,’ just because of his personality and the passion he had for that city. He was very proud of Minneapolis — even though he was from Cleveland, Minneapolis was his home.

— Izzo coaches Michigan State and was a longtime friend of Saunders.