You go to McDonald’s, you might end up feeling like you have a hockey puck in your stomach.
You go to Alinea, you might want to sell off that extra set of golf clubs.
We know what we sign up for. Recruits who agree to play for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo understand the deal. He’ll get you to a Final Four, but the ride won’t be in an Uber Black.
When players return to the bench after screwing up, they don’t expect a seat warmer. They expect some hot lava from Izzo.
“What’s wrong with challenging a kid that makes some mistakes?” Izzo asked Thursday after his team survived its first-round NCAA Tournament skirmish with Bradley, during which Izzo unloaded on freshman Aaron Henry.
Yeah, yeah, we all learn at a young age that it’s rude to point. But Izzo did a lot of that after he deemed Henry was slow to get back on defense. He kept firing on Henry during a timeout, so much so that Spartans star Cassius Winston practically had to get between them.
That behavior appeared to alarm some members of the public, but several of Izzo’s former players suggested that everyone chill.
Gary Harris tweeted: “So coaches cant yell at players now? Lol Izz cares about his players more than half these other college coaches. 600+ wins for a reason.”
Miles Bridges: “Stop being soft”
Anthony Ianni: “People need to chill on Coach Iz. Seriously he’s chewed guys out his entire career & it’s like everyone just noticed that today?? Lol there’s a reason why guys wanna play for him & why he’s the best at his job. He demands perfection from his players ON & OFF the court!”
Kelvin Torbert: “I been yelled at like that before and got the next play called for me.”
Izzo is the maestro of March. He’s the last Big Ten coach to win a national title (in 2000), and he reached the Final Four in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2015. His personality has not changed since taking over for Jud Heathcote in 1995. He’s old-school. He’s a coach’s coach.
Fred Hoiberg, we sense, admonishes players with a please and thank you. But guess where Hoiberg sent his kid, Jack, to play? Michigan State.
The only problem with Izzo turning Thursday’s game into a “Wanna Get Away?” commercial is that the public admonishment of Henry didn’t seem to help. Henry appeared to play scared, hoping not to mess up. And he kept messing up.
After blocking a shot, Henry saved the ball from going out of bounds … but tossed it in the middle of the court, directly to a Bradley player. Then he misfired badly on an entry pass, and the ball sailed out of bounds.
Henry committed five turnovers, all in the second half. The rest of the Spartans, over the entire game, coughed it up four times.
The 6-foot-6 Henry also blew a dunk. Izzo blew his top.
But Henry did hit a short jumper inside three minutes and drained two free throws.
“Aaron Henry, trust me, did some things that you can’t do as a starter on a top-five team at the end of your freshman year,” Izzo said. “And they were effort-related. So he’s going to get challenged. … Aaron Henry grew up a little bit tonight. The cool thing is we went back to him, and he responded.”
He responded well in the locker room, too, telling reporters of Izzo: “He knows that I think I can rise to the challenge because I’ve been doing that all year, I feel like. It’s just if my plate gets bigger, I’ve got more food to eat. I’ve just got to eat it.”
And before you sit down to eat, understand the consequences.