Big Ten Daily: Tom Izzo Defends Matt Painter, Worries About NCAA Transfer Changes

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has known Matt Painter for a long time, and he's got a lot of respect for the Purdue coach. And he applauded him for standing up and talking about the recent transfers of Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern from his program,.

"I'll just speak for Matt Painter because I know him so well. I recruited Matt, and I know Gene (Keady) so well. There's never been a time where Matt Painter doesn't do what's best for his kids over himself,'' Izzo told Dan Dakich Friday on his afternoon radio show on 1070 The Fan in Indiana. "I'm not saying everybody should stay at one school. But to just pick up and leave without even talking to your coach, that's wrong. When they make decisions and you don't even know what's going on, that's wrong.

"First thing people want to say is, 'What's wrong with that program? Two guys left.' I'll tell you what's wrong with that program. He's won Big Ten championships. Two years ago, he was a Hail Mary shot from getting to his first Final Four. That year, he deserved to go to the Final Four, and that team (Virgnia) won the national championship. He runs a clean program and he does it the right way.''

Izzo also touched on several other topics during his lengthy interview with Dakich:

— Izzo on his friendship with Painter

"I will say this. Matt and I have become closer and closer the last couple of years and we're on a couple of boards.

— On the proposed changes to the transfer rule

"Everybody's screwed up on this thing, because we're trying to do what's best for kids too. If everybody just has the right to do every thing every day, that's the misnomer. I'm trying to help my own players from making bad decisions.

"When Jud (Heathcote) was 88, I'd still call him and ask for him. My dad was 90, and I still asked him for advice. The decisions that are being made, you just want to talk about it. Morris Peterson, he wanted to transfer every day. He didn't want to go to class, didn't want to be in school. Thank God his parents were awesome. They didn't let him transfer because the knew he was running from something. He stayed five years and made a lot of money in the NBA.

— On kids getting bad advice

"We have 200 underclassmen (entering the NBA draft) and I think it's our job to protect these kids sometimes. They hear the wrong things. I think everybody needs someone to blame now. Self-evaluating is the hardest thing to do. I screw up too. You and me, we had differences. Later on, I admit it, I said I screwed up.

"I try to spend a lot of time, at Midnight Madness, I have a parent meeting, and we go over everything, from drug things or missed classes. I ask them, 'What do you want me to do?' When I ask them in front of everybody, they say 'I want you to discipline them.' Then you watch their eyes, and they kind of start turning a little bit. Everybody's afraid. Mu kid screws up too. I think we're too protective of everybody.

— On plenty of blame to go around

"I can't ever picture myself just running a kid off. That's what I'm worried we are going to turn into now because roster management is impossible. I blame some of it on the direction we have, even at our universities. Now we get ADs who have no athletic backgrounds. If players and coaches stick together, there's going to be a lot of successful people, players and coach.

"Matt and I are on the NABC board, I'm back on it. Matt's even on some more exclusive boards than that. For instance, there's some bad things that go on in AAU basketball, but if a coach says something, you might get blackballed from that program. We're making the rules up, not the kids. We've changed. We allow it.

"You're looking at trying to help the biggest number (of kids). Do you know how few people make it to the NBA? Everyone I recruit, they all think they're going to the NBA.

— On the new one-time transfer proposal

"I never agreed with it (one-time transfer) because I think, No. 1, 99 percent of the kids who get recruited at this level scored 20 points a game in high school. Most of them are unhappy from the beginning. It's OK to fail, OK to struggle, OK to look in the mirror and see who you are.

"I called a lot of football coaches. They say it too. It just hurts kids. It teaches them how to quit. If a coach leaves, I have no problem with a kid being able to leave. What is wrong, if he makes a commitment and he leaves, he has to learn a new school, new offense, new defense, new teammates.

"If I tell a kid you're not going to be a pro, but you're going to be a good college player, he's gone. He's not coming here. They all think they're going to be pros. But we're to blame, too. We're all the ones telling these kids how good they are.

— On getting less respect from players these days

"The only good thing for me, like they say, I'm on the back nine (of my career). I waited, I was 29 and still a GA, but I got my break.

"I say all the time to my assistants, when you played for Knight, or Heathcote or Keady, the title demanded respect. The title now, it doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean as much anymore.

"We're only allowed to be with them 20 hours a week, but if they do something wrong in the 21st hour, it's still our fault.

"Every decision that I try to make is really to benefit the kid, because nothing else matters to me anymore. I just don't want guys leaving here and then not being as successful as they think they can be.

"I'm constantly growing and trying to learn and we think the 18-year-old kids have all the answers. What we've all got to do is get on the same page. It's not a dictatorship, it's kids coming back saying, 'I wish I had known then what I know now.' 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story also appeared on our Sports Illustrated Purdue site.

Related items on Big Ten basketball

  • PAINTER RIPS TRANSFERS: Purdue coach Matt Painter was critical of the way juniors Nojel Eastern and Matt Haarms abruptly left his program. CLICK HERE
  • WHAT'S WRONG AT PURDUE: Nothing really, but columnist Tom Brew weighs in after the two transfers. CLICK HERE
  • WILL EASTERN PLAY AT MICHIGAN?: Nojel Eastern transferred quickly to Michigan, but will he stay if he doesn't get transfer waiver? CLICK HERE
  • HIGHLIGHTS: Here are the highlights of Matt Painter's interview with Dan Dakich on Wednesday on 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis. CLICK HERE
  • LISTEN HERE: Here is the complete interview between Purdue coach Matt Painter and 1070 The Fan's Dan Dakich from Wednesday afternoon. CLICK HERE
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