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January 21, 2012

This whole Painter/Dawson/Izzone/Hummel/Izzo thing

Michigan State wins by 25 over Purdue and all we want to talk about is some trash talk? Yeah, pretty much.

    Here's what happened: Late in the game, Purdue threw the ball away and MSU freshman guard Branden Dawson and Purdue coach Matt Painter had some kind of exchange. Painter, of course, lost Dawson in a heated recruiting battle with MSU. Painter and Dawson had very different views on what happened.

    “He had an exchange to me," Painter said. "I think the one thing you’ve got to do is only coach one team. I think that’s the most important thing. My players are not gonna talk to opposing coaches. And so that’s kind of our rule and that’s how I handle it. I’m not letting a 19-year-old kid talk to me and rub it in, stick it to us. But to each their own.”

    That, of course, sounded like a shot at Tom Izzo. Painter and Izzo have been very close friends over the years. Not so much, it seems, since the Dawson recruitment. Their handshake was about as warm as the center of a Melting Moments sandwich.

    Anyway, here's what Dawson said about the exchange:

    “I said nothing to coach Painter," Dawson said. "Kelsey Barlow threw a pass to Anthony Johnson, and he missed the ball and it went out of bounds. And I clapped my hands and said ‘Let’s go.’ Coach Painter was well out of the picture. I don’t have a problem with him. I guess he thought I was taunting him with something. I didn’t say nothing to him, so that’s how it is.”

    Dawson was asked what Painter said to him:

    “I was running back down the court and he said, ‘I don’t need your (expletive) Dawson,’ something like that," Dawson said. "And I told the ref I didn’t say nothing to him. I was talking to Anthony Johnson, I said ‘Let’s go.’ I clapped my hands kind of in his face and I guess coach Painter thought I was taunting him or something. I don’t have a problem with coach Painter, he’s a great coach and I respect him.”

    Draymond Green saw Dawson's exchange with the official and said he talked to him about the importance of always showing respect to coaches. Meanwhile, Izzo appeared surprised when asked about the exchange at his post-game news conference.

    “If he was, I’m gonna handle it, because I made sure he wouldn’t," Izzo said of Dawson talking to Painter. "That would disappoint me a lot so I’ll handle that if he did. And my apologies to Matt. I mean, he didn’t trash talk Matt, he was trash talking some player there.”

    Izzo was then informed that Painter said Dawson said something to him.

    “Well, that’s ridiculous," Izzo responded. "So my apology to him, I’ll make sure I straighten that out.”

    And there's more. Painter apparently also got into it with someone in the Izzone, for making fun of Robbie Hummel's knee issues -- which would be incredibly idiotic and gutless for a fan to do, of course.

    “I was just trying to fight, man, you know," Painter said. "I think they’re great, I think the Izzone’s great, but if they’re gonna say, ‘I hope you tear your ACL again,’ I’m gonna say something. He doesn’t deserve that. And we’ve got guys in our student section that probably say things that are out of line, too, but when I’m right on top of it, I’m just not taking it. He hears that, someone’s got to fight for him.”

    Later, Izzo was asked about that.

    “If that’s the case, I’m gonna rip the Izzone again," Izzo said. "Because he’s one of my favorite players. But, you know, we’re hitting on some things now that … don’t think in Ann Arbor, you know, they talked about my mother’s grandmother’s grandmother. And at Purdue it’s gonna be … We’re kind of getting into some weird stuff here. …

    "Robbie Hummel is one of the most respected people in this league. And I want our fans to be as hard as they can be, I just don’t want them to be ignorant. And if that was the case, then I’ll address that too. But I better get the hell out of this press conference, because I’ve got a lot of work to do, the way it sounds. And I sure don’t want to take away from a performance that was pretty good. I think I gave credit to them on the bus ride and everything else.

    "But let’s not get too nit-picky on things that, my God, you guys weren’t on the floor at Ann Arbor, you guys were on the floor at some other places we’ve been. So I’ll try to address it, but that would be a very ignorant statement, and I would throw the guy out of here that said something like that. If he wants to talk about his grandmother, I wouldn’t like it but I’d deal with it. If he wants to talk about an injury to a kid who’s been through so much, I’ll try to find out who it was and make sure I buy his ticket, how’s that?”

    Izzo was upset with the line of questioning when he left the press conference, and his point about fans saying nasty things is well-taken -- listen closely enough near the opposing bench in a Big Ten game and you're bound to blush at some point. But the fact is, this came up in Painter's presser, so it became a relevant question for Izzo.

    Bottom line: This isn't such a friendly rivalry anymore.

    As for the game, MSU was strangely out of sorts early and Purdue was all over the offensive glass. The Boilermakers just couldn't hit shots today -- perhaps related to the fact that they couldn't fly in Friday and arrived in town by bus at 9:45 this morning -- and that's not good for a team that relies so much on the jump shot. MSU is much stronger inside and used that advantage today. Dawson, Travis Trice, Derrick Nix, Austin Thornton and Adreian Payne all took steps forward. Green and Appling played unselfishly and didn't force things. It was an impressive bounce-back performance, shrouded a bit by some woofing.





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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter

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