Coach Izzo Sternly Yells at Player in NCAA Tournament

During a first round NCAA tournament game the #2 seed Michigan State Spartans played the #15 seed Bradley University. MSU was a heavy favorite. During the first half though, MSU was down eight points. Three times in a row, freshman Aaron Henry failed to get back on defense, and three times Bradley scored. Coach Izzo initially yelled at Henry. Henry said, “My bad coach.” However, after the 3rd time, Coach Izzo met Henry at half court, pointed his finger, clinched his fists and verbally confronted Henry. Izzo then went after Henry again during the huddle. Other players intervened and sat Izzo back down. MSU went on to win that game by a sizable amount.

This video was replayed over and over by the media. It was the talk of the tournament. Media scrutinized Izzo. Some in the media berated him and said he crossed the line. Others defended him and said he was simply holding a player accountable.

Pro Argument – Izzo Crossed the Line: Coach Izzo went too far. He lost his cool. He embarrassed a freshman player in front of 15,000 fans. No player should have to endure such behavior. This is education-based athletics and Izzo’s tyraid has no place in college sports. Henry was trying his best. Izzo can get his message across to the kid in a different manner.

What if this had happened in high school? Would a high school athletic director allow this type of behavior from the head basketball coach? No. So, why then is it not okay for a 18 year old high school athlete and okay for a 19 year old college athlete?

Con Argument – Izzo Challenged his Athlete: Coach Izzo lost to a #15 seed two years ago. After that loss, he said that he didn’t do enough. He didn’t confront his players. He didn’t hold them accountable in the moment. As Izzo said after this year’s game, “The ‘my bads coach’ are out the window. This is one and done.” Coach Izzo was simply challenging his player. This was an “effort issue.” Henry was not hustling back and defense. This had a direct impact on the score. Coach Izzo was simply challenging his young freshman to play harder and understand the importance of the moment.

You have to understand that Coach Izzo has a solid relationship with each of his players. They know how much he cares. Five days earlier, a player went down with a season ending injury. Izzo openly cried on the court for this kid. It’s because of this relationship that Izzo can challenge all his athletes in the moment. He didn’t put his hands on the kid. Every one who plays for Izzo knows what they are getting into. They get the love and they also get challenged. Not one of his players or former players had a problem with Izzo’s behavior. No one at MSU had a problem with his behavior. So, why should you?

Your Turn: What do you think of Izzo’s behavior?

Comments 12

  1. Some of Izzo’s coaching styles are very harsh but I feel like that’s what it takes to be a successful team like Michigan State. Some may not agree with his coaching but if it’s working you can’t do anything about it

  2. I think coach Izzo is an experienced enough coach to know when he’s crossing the line. We don’t know what is said between him and the player but it was most likely acceptable constructive criticism. He’s a great coach.

  3. Coach Izzo is a very successful coach. He knows what it takes to win games, and if his player continued playing the way he was playing, MSU wasn’t going to win. He has the deserved respect to do what he did.

  4. From just a fans perspective Izzos actions may seem extremely harsh but coaches every where have to show emotions to prove a point to their athletes

  5. I think his behavior should change. From the players point they would always feel like they are doing something wrong because of his behavior.

  6. I think that when you yell at someone it will cause them to also act out in anger. I believe the coach shouldn’t have yelled at him but instead told him what he was doing wrong and if he didn’t listen, taken him out of the game.

  7. Coach Izzo’s behavior is what you should expect from a top D1 college coach. You can tell how much he faith and confidence he has in his player because he was yelling at him and getting on him. If he didn’t have faith or confidence that the player could have played defense or helped the team during that game, he would have just sat the kid. Athletes and fans have become too soft when it comes to coaches yelling at players. Coaches yell because they care and believe in their players and sometimes especially young freshman need to get yelled at. All Coach Izzo was doing was being a great coach.

  8. I think Coach Izzo was just showing he cared. Sometime parents and fans take what they see the coach doing and blow it out of proportion. Our coach told us “A coach cares when they keep giving you corrections in a stern voice and they get angry with but you should be worried when they stop talking.” Coach Izzo obviously cares about his players and wants the best for each and everyone of them.

  9. I think that Lzzo was just showing how much he cared about the player. Because if he yelled multiple times it means that he had faith in his player that he would change.

  10. I think Coach Lzzo was showing how much he cared but I don’t think he should have done it in the middle of the court like that. He should have waited to talk to him until after they got on the sideline.

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