Bulls' Boylen: 'I'm disappointed you can't coach a guy hard these days'
This whole storyline was predictable.
Bulls coach Jim Boylen grew up a Michigan State fan, with a father who played football at the school, got his first job in coaching under Jud Heathcote and worked on Tom Izzo's staff for two seasons.
So naturally, Boylen would jump to the front of the line among people who would defend Izzo after a verbal altercation with a player created some controversy.
"Good players want to be coached," Boylen said Friday at the Advocate Center. "They want to be pushed, they know they have to be. In a moment, it's emotional. This (NCAA Tournament) is a one-and-done thing. You can't make mistakes.
"Tom Izzo is coaching him for that game and that moment, but he's also coaching him the next time in that moment. That's what it is. I'm disappointed that people are upset about it."
During Michigan State's first-round win over Bradley on Thursday, Izzo confronted freshman forward Aaron Henry at the start of a timeout. An angry Izzo pointed a finger in Henry's face and twice other Michigan State players tried to calm Izzo down. The video went viral, obviously, and generated some conversation.
"Well, I think people need to understand our job, especially at all levels, is to prepare the child for the road," Boylen said. "He didn't take him out. He coached him in that moment, Michigan State has high standards of play, and Tom Izzo's job, and I think our job, is to push a guy to a place he can't take himself. You go to Michigan State you understand that. That's why you go there."
It is a strange dynamic. Imagine having an academic coach during college who yelled at you every day to study harder. Or stood out in the hallway as you left biology and took exception to your effort level in class.
At the same time, it is true those players knew what they were getting into when they chose to play for Izzo. He's been head coach at MSU for 24 years and has long been recognized as one of the more intense coaches in college basketball.
Injured Bulls guard Denzel Valentine spent four years playing for Izzo and former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg sent his son Jack to be a walk-on at Michigan State. Bulls director of player development Shawn Respert played for Heathcote, so the MSU ties run deep at the Advocate Center.
"I'm disappointed you can't coach a guy hard these days without somebody making a big deal about it," Boylen said. "It's disappointing.
"I've said this before: The basketball is the basketball. What wins in this league is dynamic leadership, and Izzo is a dynamic leader."
Boylen admitted he watched NCAA Tournament games with an eye on potential Bulls players or opponents. Boylen is not allowed to talk about college players by name, but it's safe to say everyone in the NBA watched some part of Murray State guard Ja Morant posting a triple-double against Marquette on Thursday. Morant is a strong candidate to be chosen No. 2 in the draft after Duke's Zion Williamson.
Zach LaVine said tourney talk in the locker room is limited to a few guys.
"Wendell (Carter) and Denzel go back and forth," he said. "We have two guys who competed pretty deeply in March with Archie (Ryan Arcidiacono) and Denzel."
Arcidiacono won a championship with Villanova, while Valentine went to the Final Four with MSU.
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Bulls vs. Utah Jazz, 7 p.m. Saturday at United Center
TV: WGN • Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: Utah (42-30) had a five-game win streak snapped in Atlanta Thursday. The Jazz has gone 22-9 since Jan. 9. ... Second-year SG Donovan Mitchell is the top scorer at 23.8 ppg., followed by C Rudy Gobert, who averages 15.4 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. PG Ricky Rubio is at 12.6 points and 6.2 assists. ... The Bulls lost in Salt Lake City 110-102 Jan. 12 as Mitchell scored 34. The Jazz has dropped three in a row at the UC.
Next: Toronto Raptors, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Scotiabank Arena
-- Mike McGraw