MSU's Tom Izzo calls Michigan-Wisconsin scuffle 'bad for college basketball'

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Tom Izzo wasn’t watching the Michigan-Wisconsin game on Sunday, so it took a minute before he even knew anything out of the ordinary took place.

Not long after a meeting with a few players, however, he saw footage of the altercation between Michigan coach Juwan Howard and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard, leading to a skirmish that included Howard taking a shot at Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft and players from both teams mixing it up in a wild scene at the Kohl Center.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo gives instructions during the second half.

“It was a scary situation,” Izzo said, adding he didn’t want to comment too much because he had no idea of what happened leading up to the confrontation.

However, what took place from there, Izzo said, was “bad for college basketball.”

“When I watched it on a big screen and I saw people swinging, I saw the fans right behind them, it reminded me of the Malice in the Palace and it bothered me,” Izzo said, referencing the fight between the Pistons and Pacers back in 2004. “But what instigated it, I don't know that whole thing. I feel bad for Juwan, I feel bad for Gard, I feel bad for all of them that are involved in it, because nothing good comes of it. That I've learned in the last few years, nothing good comes of it.

“So I'll just say that what I hope for everybody's sake, more than the punishment that's dealt, I hope the lessons have been learned and we move forward and we continue to have this the best conference in the country.”

More: Wojo: Michigan's Juwan Howard swings madly, and it will cost him plenty

While Izzo was disappointed in what took place, he bristled at the suggestion college basketball should abandon the practice of having a handshake line at the end of games.

“That to me would be the biggest farce, joke, ridiculous nature of anything I've ever heard of,” Izzo said. “We've already told these kids that it's hard to hold them accountable and now we're going to tell them to not man up and walk down a line to someone who's kicked your butt and have enough class to shake their hand is utterly ridiculous.

“Not shaking hands, that's typical of our country right now. Instead of solving the problem, let's make an excuse and let's see if we can just, instead of confronting and demanding that it changes, let's eliminate it so that we don't have those problems. Let's try to do that. That's not happening here. So if some team doesn't want to shake hands, you're gonna see 15 of my guys walk down and shake air. We're going to shake air and I'm going to shake air and then we're gonna leave.”

Izzo's counterpart Tuesday, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, said Tuesday he wasn't "in favor" of the handshake line. Eliminating it, he said, can help diffuse situations.

"What I don't think people realize," McCaffery told reporters, "there's a lot of conversation that goes on between the coaches and the players before and after the game. If you want to give somebody a hug, you can. If you want to spend time with somebody, you can. It doesn't have to be forced, and it doesn't have to be right at that moment.

"A lot of things happen throughout the course of games. A lot of intensity, a lot of stuff said. So you might have an issue, and there has been some. I think you just move on."

Twitter: @mattcharboneau