Michigan State head coach/psycho Tom Izzo briefly lost his mind yesterday, exploding at freshman forward Aaron Henry during a timeout—after a 10-0 Spartans run, by the way—in MSU’s eventual 76-65 first-round win over Bradley. This is nothing new for Izzo (which is an indictment rather than a defense), but considering the stage, it got more attention than his usual outbursts, to the point where he was forced to attempt to defend himself.
Here’s the blow-up, which continued into the commercial break:
And here’s Izzo addressing it in the press conference:
“I did get after him. He did respond. He did make a couple of big buckets,” Izzo said, in case you were holding out hope he might, if just for a moment, consider that yelling in a teen’s face might not be an effective coaching method.
Izzo then turned it around on a reporter. “If I was a head of a newspaper, and you didn’t do your job, you’d be held accountable,” he said. To which I’d note that if my boss screamed at me and had to be physically restrained, she’d be disciplined or potentially even fired. And to which I’d ask: What exactly is Aaron Henry’s “job,” and how much is he being paid?
Many coaches yell, but, crucially, not all coaches. Almost never pro coaches. Drew made this point (about football coaches) in a very good blog that is worth blockquoting here:
Most coaches yell, and most coaches get away with it because yelling is a cheap and easy form of leadership. If you want to grab a player’s attention quickly, and the stadium is already loud, raising your voice usually does the trick. In the short term, yelling works.
But in the long term, yelling is worthless. Yelling is a shortcut … a sugar rush of discipline for leaders who are too weak and/or too lacking in creativity when it comes to helping players improve. Go look at an NFL coach’s sideline demeanor and compare to a maniac like Kelly. In general, NFL coaches only yell if they truly need to be heard over the din, or if they have to bitch out a ref. Would Kelly have the gall to yell at his players if they were all 26 years old? Probably not, and that’s because Kelly is a fucking coward who knows he can only get away with that bullshit if he’s bossing around unpaid teenagers. As with corporal punishment, yelling represents a failure of imagination.
Another point is that college coaches don’t want players who can think for themselves. They want athletic automatons who will run their system. And the fastest way to make that happen to break down their psyches until there’s nothing left, and then build them back up the way the want them. The fastest way to break them down is to scream in their faces. That’s Tom Izzo basketball, and it’s worked for him, but there are costs.