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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo had to be restrained and calmed down by two of his players during a timeout in the Spartans’ NCAA tournament opener against Bradley.
With No. 2 seed MSU in a battle with the 15th-seeded Braves, Izzo was furious at freshman guard Aaron Henry, presumably for what Izzo perceived to be lackluster defense. As Michigan State players returned to the team’s bench for a timeout, he met Henry out near midcourt, screaming at him and tapping him on the chest:
The fury continued back toward the bench, with Izzo shaking his finger near Henry’s face and continuing to yell.
Only then did junior point guard Cassius Winston step in to quell Izzo’s rage. Winston put his hands on Izzo’s shoulders while the head coach continued to scream at Henry.
Then, after the players had taken seats around Izzo during the timeout, Izzo got up out of his and again went at Henry. This time senior guard Matt McQuaid had to restrain the coach.
The confrontation occurred with the game tight, amid 18 lead changes. Bradley was in front as late as the 6:30 mark. But the Spartans held on and pulled away to win, 76-65.
Izzo defends his yelling at Henry
Izzo was asked about the confrontation at his postgame news conference. “There were some things Aaron didn’t do a very good job of,” he explained.
“And you know what? I did get after him, and he did respond, and he did make a couple big buckets, and he did make some big free throws,” Izzo continued. “But that’s not good enough. This is one-and-done time. The my bads are out the window.
“If they’re my bads because that team or that guy played better, [OK]. If it’s ‘my bad’ ‘cause I decided to jog back instead of sprint back, then it is you’re bad and you’re gonna hear about it. That’s what it was.”
As part of his response to a follow-up question about Henry, Izzo expanded on his explanation with an analogy.
“I get a kick out of you guys,” he said, referencing the media. “You get after somebody because you’re trying to hold ‘em accountable. I don’t know what kind of business you’re in, but I’ll tell you what, if I was the head of a newspaper, and you didn’t do your job, you’d be held accountable. That’s the way it is.”
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