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#pounditTuesday, September 28, 2021

Michigan State players defend Tom Izzo over heated exchange

Tom Izzo restrained

Tom Izzo was not happy with the way Michigan State played against Bradley in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, and the longtime coach has faced some criticism for the way he went after freshman Aaron Henry more than once during the second half. However, it does not sound like it bothered many people inside the Spartans locker room.

At one point, Izzo aggressively got in Henry’s face during a timeout that followed a 10-0 run from Michigan State. He lunged at the freshman while screaming at him and needed to be held back. After the 76-65 win, Izzo said Henry has too much experience at this point in the season to be making mistakes and not giving a full effort.

“This is one-and-done time,” Izzo said. “The ‘my bads’ are out the window. If they’re ‘my bads’ because that team played better or that guy played better — if it’s ‘my bad’ because you decided to jog back instead of sprint back, then it is your bad. That’s what it was.”

When asked if he feels Izzo is harder on him than some other players, Henry said he knows the coach is just trying to get the most out of him.

“I wouldn’t say he’s more demanding,” Henry said, per Chris Solari of The Detroit Free Press. “He knows that I think I can rise to the challenge, because I’ve been doing that all year I feel like. It’s just if my plate gets bigger, I got more food to eat. I just gotta eat it.”

Current and former Michigan State players were also quick to come to Izzo’s defense, with injured junior Kyle Ahrens saying Henry should be happy about Izzo getting on him because “that’s when you know he cares about you.” Spartans alumni made similar remarks.

Izzo knows his No. 2 seed team is going to have to play much better going forward than they did against Bradley, and that’s likely where a lot of his frustration stemmed from. We’ve seen coaches nearly make players cry by ripping into them in the past, so Izzo is hardly the first to lose his cool.


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