Tom Izzo understands Purdue's off-court situation

Having faced the same situation a year earlier, the Michigan State head coach showed sympathy, understanding and praise for Matt Painter and the Boilermakers who were without Kelsey Barlow and DJ Byrd Sunday due to an off-the-court incident.

WEST LAFAYETTE

In the mold of a politician, Tom Izzo walked through the door of Mackey Arena's media room and sat down post-haste.

He adjusted the thin microphone slightly to to mouth level, did a quick neck crack to his left befort starting his speech from the pulpit.

"It's a funny profession our profession," stated Izzo to begin, but that segway to his real thesis was far from comedic.

Michigan State's veteran coach knew full well the situation that was happening 50 feet down the floor from him on Sunday afternoon in West Lafayette.

"Life's not always fair," said Izzo. "It kinda what we talked about with our team last year. Morning, noon and night, distractions kill you."

That was not literal, of course, for Purdue but rather in a synonym for what happened 72 hours earlier when starting guard Kelsey Barlow was dismissed and forward DJ Byrd was suspended for a game.

Matt Painter was forced into those actions following an incident at the Where Else bar on the West Lafayette campus. Byrd was arrested by police for public intoxication shortly after Barlow attempted to re-enter the establishment for his wallet.

When the story reached Izzo sometime over the last three days, Izzo couldn't help reflect on how transgression by players hampered his own squad.

"I've been there and done that, went through a lot last year," said Izzo, who had to throw starters Chris Allen and Korie Lucious off the team for troubles off the court. "Someday I'm going to figure out why people are throwing away opportunities."

While talking on the black-and-gold podium, Izzo delved into the issue of high-profile college athletes in a unique way. Spotting a familiar writer in the front row of the news conference, Izzo reached out for a starting point to his talk.

"Give me that son-of-a-gun," said Izzo as he jestured toward the scribe, and he obliged by handing off his phone to the coach. "This crap has changed our world and I'm not trying to over stick up for them but don't think we're not all one Thursday night away from problems.

"Don't think that's a Purdue issue or a Michigan State issue, its all of our issues. Some of it is the fault of our society and what we've got and some of it is the fault of kids having to realize that things have changed."

Barlow and Byrd found out the hard way and at the same time so did Painter, who like Izzo became reflective when asked how the Thursday night incident affected their team in the 76-62 loss to Michigan State.

"I see a lot of good guys that are going in the right direction in terms of playing and giving a good effort, but it is disappointing. There's no doubt about it, its disappointing," said Painter of the situation with his team. "When you put in time with guys, you give guys a second chance, that's what it all about.

"Everybody in this room you think about the chances you get in life, you think about somebody sticking by you. I know I had people stick by me maybe when they shouldn't have done it and I stood by somebody and it didn't pay off and I feel like I let our team down because I feel like I made a decision that was best for an individual and in the long run it wasn't best for our team."

For what its worth, Izzo took a majority of the time in his post-game talk to give praise to Painter for his team's effort against the seventh-ranked Spartans. Despite losing 15 points a game with the absence of Barlow and Byrd, the Boilermakers had a three-point lead at halftime.

It wasn't until a 1-for-23 shooting stretch in the second half that Izzo's interior superior team finally took control, but not before earning the respect of the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten conference.

"To be honest with you, the job that he (Painter) and his staff did to get the team ready to play under the circumstances they were given was incredible," said Izzo, even if the circumstances seemed in this age a bit typical.

 

 

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