It started with his comments on CBS following the Michigan State loss to Butler on Saturday night when he started his criticism of the officials. It continued on through his press conference. Here is some of what Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had to say after their loss in the Final Four.
"I'm pleased for Butler, It's a great story. And I'm proud of my team, and I'm a little ticked off, so I've got all three emotions going my way."
"I was upset about a couple of calls, I really was. Don't take anything away from Butler and don't take it as whining. But you asked me a question and I'm giving you a man's answer."
Izzo is a tremendous coach, and after the loss to Butler he was presented a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how much class he has too. He blew it.
Here is how Izzo blew it; shut up when asked about the officiating after a game. When you are asked the inevitable questions about the calls during a game just smile and indicate you would rather talk about how hard your team played. Say something giving credit to Butler for making plays when they had to. Do anything but talk about how upset you were with some of the calls during the game.
The best coaches don’t praise their opposition with one sentence, and in the very next one point a finger at an outside element as the reason for your loss.
Have you ever noticed that coaches are only upset with poor calls that work against their team? They never seem to notice the questionable ones that benefit their guys. The Spartans and Butler Bulldogs gave us a close game with many questionable calls. When they are all considered the best call is the good and bad were probably a wash, giving neither team an edge. It was the players on the court that determined the outcome.
Oh, and real men hold their heads high in defeat and know when they should own something, like the loss of a game. The next quote from Izzo is one that should concern Michigan State fans.
“It was hard to figure out what to run, and what to do, because every time I turned around we had somebody different in there.”
With this comment Izzo was talking about the combination of fouls and penalties that were forcing the Spartans to have odd personnel groups in the game together. Here is something legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said:
"If you want to coach you have three rules to follow to win. One, surround yourself with people who can't live without football. I've had a lot of them. Two, be able to recognize winners. They come in all forms. And, three, have a plan for everything. A plan for practice, a plan for the game. A plan for being ahead, and a plan for being behind 20-0 at half, with your quarterback hurt and the phones dead, with it raining cats and dogs and no rain gear because the equipment man left it at home."
Izzo is paid a handsome $3 million per year to coach the Spartans. He recruited the players, watches them at practice on a daily basis, and probably determines much about their overall comings and goings in life. He should have a plan for what to do no matter who is on the floor for his team at any point in the game. Really, what does he think Michigan State is paying him for?
Here is a thought; maybe Izzo should spend more time reflecting on his game preparation and decisions from the bench instead of tossing a verbal bomb at the officials. It might help him move from being a really good coach to becoming one of the great ones.
"A lot of them getting into the double bonus was our fault, you can't blame that on the refs or say the refs made any calls or whatnot. They just attacked the rim more than we did."
Draymond Green, Michigan State
Nice job. Green came out sounding classy and respectful of his opposition. In our sports society it has become fashionable to never show any signs of weakness or give credit to an opponent. Guess what? Green came off looking better than his coach did.
"I think the injuries played a big part. Guys had to play a lot of minutes at a time and we missed the scoring of Kalin and Chris. And Delvon wasn't able to do a lot of scoring, really, but he played his heart out on one leg for us. '
"You can blame it on the injuries, or the adversity throughout the season, but when you're on the court you've just got to advance."
Durrell Summers, Michigan State
Izzo is doing something right. His players displayed respect for each other and Butler after the game. It would have been great to see their coach do the same.
Of course, we also saw one of his players restraining their coach in the final seconds, so maybe they learned their manners before arriving at Michigan State and could be a positive influence on Izzo moving forward.