Former Maryland men's basketball head coach Gary Williams is sticking up for Michigan State's Tom Izzo after his heated interaction with player Aaron Henry during one of last week's NCAA tournament games.
"I think a lot of the people that criticized Tom Izzo never played on a team, never coached a team and had no idea what they were talking about except they're part of a new generation that belives you shouldn't get on people, push people in that way," Williams said Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies.
Early in the second half of Michigan State's first-round matchup with the Bradley Braves, the Hall of Fame coach lost his cool while speaking to the freshman forward after a defensive mistake. Izzo at one point had to be restrained by a fellow player.
The video of the interaction quickly went viral and Izzo received both criticism and support from those around the league.
For Williams, who was also known for his fiery temperament, it's part of being a head coach.
"And Izzo's Izzo. He's not going to change," Williams added. "He coach with Jud Heathcote when I was coaching at Ohio State back in the eighties. You know, you had to hold your ground and that's the way you coached and I coached the same way, and you get on players."
After the Spartans' 76-65 win, Izzo said he didn't see anything wrong with "challenging a kid that makes some mistakes."
"Aaron Henry -- trust me -- did some things that you can't do as a starter on a top-5 team at the end of your freshman year. They were effort-related," he said.
"I did get after him. He did respond. He did make a couple of big buckets. He did make some big free throws but that's not good enough. It's one-and-done time. The 'my-bads' are out the window."
While Izzo's perception on the court may be one thing, Williams knows off the court it's a whole different story between the head coach and his players.
"But the big thing Izzo does, and I tried to do, was once the game's over or once practice is over you've got your arm around the player, you're talking about different things in his life trying to get him to keep developing and making him understand that that's just basketball," Williams said. "You know, that was just that situation. I still love you, you know, you’re still the man that type of thing."
Henry reiterated this sentiment as well after last week's game.
"I've heard worse from him,'' Henry said. “I’ve got it worse in practice before."
MORE NCAA NEWS:
- Out of the Dance: Terps woman's basketball falls to UCLA in second round
- Heartbreak: LSU sinks Maryland on last-second shot to end Terps’ season
- NBA Draft: Top prospects in tourney not named Zion