Michigan State was bounced in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, as the Spartans dropped their opening conference tournament game to the Maryland Terrapins. While MSU is likely still in the NCAA Tournament field, the Spartans will have to wait until Sunday to find out for sure.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo spoke to the media after the game. He was clearly upset with the officiating in the game, especially in the first half (even getting assessed a technical foul at one point), and disappointed with his team’s overall play.
Maryland shot 28 total free throws in the game (making 20), including 16 attempts from the line in the first half alone (making 15). Michigan State shot only 18 total free throws, making just nine of those (50 percent), and shooting a total of eight free throws in the first half. Izzo took issue with the way the game was called.
Tom Izzo is speaking now.— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) March 11, 2021
“I solely pray that every alum out there doesn’t look a player, just blames me...I let the officiating get to me...I did a poor job.”
“I solely pray that every alum out there looks at this game and doesn’t say one thing to a player, just blames me,” Izzo said. “I let the officiating get to me in the first half — 26 years in this job, that should never happen. That’s totally my fault. Not for the technical, just the entire situation. I did a poor job, and the coach has gotta be able to admit when he did (a poor job), just like I’d be able to tell you when I think a player did (poorly).”
Izzo praised Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon, and Maryland’s physical play, saying he didn’t want to take anything away from them and they were the tougher team. But he again reiterated that he felt like there were too many whistles stopping gameplay.
Izzo had plenty more to say about the officiating. He mentioned that the consistency in the way the games have been called this year, not just in the Big Ten, but across the NCAA has been puzzling.
“I don’t know if anybody knows how to play anymore, because things are called so differently every week,” Izzo said. “That’s all the coaches ask for, players ask for is consistency. I don’t feel that it’s been consistent.”
When asked about why his emotions got the best of him in terms of the officiating, Izzo said it’s something that “happened over time,” and certain events have built up and played into it. But he also still makes sure not to take himself too seriously.
“I’m not more mature than that, but I really should be more experienced than that,” Izzo said. “I don’t ever want to get too mature, I don’t ever want to get as old as Jud (Heathcote). I’ll just stay here and be immature every once in a while and make sure I don’t get too grown up.”
When it was brought to Izzo’s attention that Michigan State has a poor record this season in games that a certain official (Bo Boroski) calls, he wasn’t aware of that fact, but shed a little more light on why he was so upset with the officiating today. While Izzo did not name Boroski or any other official by name, he did say that he was still somewhat heated over something that happened earlier in the year with a certain crew.
“It’s not the official’s fault, it’s my fault,” Izzo said. “I didn’t know we were 0-4 (with that official). There was something that happened early in the year that really, really bothered me, and maybe I let it drag on. Like I said, ‘Grow up, Izzo,’ that should be your headline...I didn’t know any of those stats, I don’t care about any of those stats, a lot of great officials out there. I just don’t like the consistency of what I’ve seen this year throughout games.”
The Spartans plan to stick in Indianapolis until MSU is officially eliminated from contention and its season is over. Michigan State will have a few days to rest, practice and watch film before finding out who the team will play in the NCAA Tournament. Izzo says he “would rather be playing (in the Big Ten Tournament),” but sticking around in a hotel isn’t the worst thing for the team.
“It’s a privilege, I get to be in (Indianapolis),” Izzo says about staying in Indy through the NCAA Tournament despite the early exit in the Big Ten Tournament. Says the team will likely take the day off tomorrow and then watch film and resume practice.— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) March 11, 2021
“I don’t have to do anything, I get to do it,” Izzo said. “It’s a privilege, I get to be here. I felt bad — Northwestern went home last night. I don’t know what changes for us in the big picture, but I get an opportunity. So, ‘have to’ is not the problem, ‘get to’ is the good news. What are we gonna do? We’re gonna take tomorrow off. We’re gonna practice on Saturday, probably practice somewhere on Sunday — maybe it’ll be outside, that’d be good for us. So we’re gonna do that, and then see what the next stop brings.”
Overall, Izzo was disappointed with the loss. He recently spoke to Gonzaga head coach Mark Few about “never needing a loss,” even if it was suggested by Few that a loss could motivate his team — a line of thinking that Izzo doesn’t really believe in. While the early exit from the Big Ten Tournament is going to be hard to swallow for the Spartans, perhaps the extended rest is much needed for a team with such tired legs after a grueling three-week stretch.
“I’ve never felt there was good news in losing,” Izzo said. “(But) I’ve always felt you could learn something from losing...I don’t think losing we needed, or it gives us an advantage because of fatigue. Winning is supposed to invigorate you. In fairness, this has been three weeks from hell, and you all know it, and I know it. But it’s also been three of the more exhilarating weeks of my entire coaching career — when you can beat some of the teams you beat, play the way you did, and earned them.”
Aaron Henry also met with the media today. He was clearly upset about the game’s result, and like Izzo, didn’t particularly seem to appreciate the officiating.
Aaron Henry:— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) March 11, 2021
“They were just making calls...I’m not sure where they were coming from...it is what it is,” Henry says of the officiating.
“They were just making calls, I don’t know where they were getting them from,” Henry said. “They were just making them. We were playing good defense, they were being physical, we were being physical. It is what it is.”
Michigan State will now patiently wait until Selection Sunday to find out its NCAA Tournament fate. The Spartans are almost certainly in, but what seed and who the opponent is remains to be seen — we will find out in a couple of days.