Michigan State 82, Penn State 67 Post-Game Quotes
 
 
 

 

 
 

Feb. 7, 2014

Recap |  Box Score |  Notes |  Photo Gallery  |  Photo Gallery 

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement…
It was a strange game. I really have a great deal of respect for the way Penn State has been playing and it wasn’t just the three wins. They lose by two, by one, by two. They’ve been playing really good basketball. Tonight, it just kind of looked like they ran out of gas and we made shots. When you make shots everything changes. We only shot 47 percent [from the field] and 53 percent from the three. We did miss some shots. All in all, we have 22 assists on 28 baskets. I thought we did a great job. We got a little goofy at times with the line-ups. With Adreian (Payne) in there, it was good; his presence was great. But when he was in there [previously], BJ [Brandon Dawson] was playing four and we were switching and doing different things. Adreian was trying to do that tonight, but the rest of the team was playing how we’ve been playing for a month. We had some mistakes and we knew we were going to have some mistakes. Some strange plays, but, all in all, we shared the ball, we worked hard, we rebounded the ball well and I thought we dominated 90 percent of the game. I was pleased with that.

On the unselfishness of this team…
The whole team. I thought some guys passed up some shots – Gary [Harris] passed up one. I just thought that that is the way we played earlier in the year. We had a lot of assists for every game – we were leading the country at one time. That is one of the things we don’t think we’ve done as good a job of moving the ball and running. I thought tonight we ran better. Give Dwayne Stevens credit – he had guys in there every day at seven in the morning this week shooting free throws. We shot very well from the line. Rebounding was a key with [Denzel] Valentine getting a double-double and six assists. [Travis] Trice gets seven assists with no turnovers. There were some really positive things. Penn State didn’t play like they’ve been playing either. That team is very well coached and they do a hell of a job. Tonight, they just did not play as well. I was talking to Pat[rick Chambers] after and I said, “Man you’ve been playing so well.” That’s what happens sometimes too when you’re playing so well, sooner or later you run out of playing hard and well and this happens. I think they’ll bounce back. 

On Denzel Valentine…
Early in the game he was a bit out of control there – just going in and throwing the ball up. We took him out for a little bit, settled him down a bit and then I thought he play phenomenally - rebounding wise, defensively, made some shots, made some great passes, and did a great job on the boards. I thought that was one of Denzel’s better games. When you get five guys in double [figures] and then everyone getting Kenny [Kaminski] the ball and Kenny made shots. Denzel had a lot to do with that, too. Between Denzel and Travis [Trice], Kenny was on the receiving end of a lot of those [assists]. I thought this was one of Denzel’s best games after that first five or six minutes. 

On the rotation…
Well, I’ve always run a pro rotation. At certain times, certain guys go in, at least the first couple of substitutions. That way, at the 15 or 16 minute-mark one guy knows he’s coming out and one guy knows he’s going in. Then they’re more prepared to go in. It started with Morris Peterson and it worked pretty well – he told me what he was doing. Dwayne [Stevens] had a substitution pattern that he and I talked about before the game and that worked really well in years past, but this year we haven’t used it once. I can’t tell you what it was like yesterday to sit in my office and prepare for practice. I had talked to Keith [Appling] the night before and it sounded like things were getting better. Then the trainer calls and says that he can hardly move his wrist. We had specialists look at it and we’ve gone through all the x-rays and everything. It is kind of a strange deal – I don’t know if it’s locked up or what. They’ve done some work on him, but the poor guy missed his first game here, I think. That does a lot to a team. I don’t want to make little of it, I don’t want to make too much of it. But, when you think about it, we’ve had all five starters out and it has been hard on me, my staff and the players. It is not one or two and it is the most strange – mono, the flu and these injuries that almost don’t make sense. In Keith’s case, everyone already knows. We went back and looked today – Keith Appling, before the North Carolina game, was leading the league in three-point field goal percentage, he was 56 [percent] overall, 53 [percent] from the three, and 80 something [percent] from the line. Then a couple weeks after he was still in the high 40s and 76 percent from the line, but then I think he fell on it [the wrist] at Penn State and it’s just been getting worse and worse. He falls a lot. I told him that he’s got to go to gymnastics class and learn how to fall without landing on your wrist. A gymnastics teacher taught me that in college and it works. The poor guy – his free throw, that’s why it is. We didn’t keep it quiet necessarily, but we didn’t harp on it, because there’s nothing we can do. He’s the guy you feel sorry for; he was crushed that he had to miss his first game. It’s hard if you ask me. Is he going to be ready Sunday or the next week? I have no idea. But, I know this – of every guy I got on my team, he’s the toughest. If he can play, he’ll play. But it has been hard on the players. [Matt] Costello gets used to playing with Adreian [Payne], but then Adreian is gone. You got to have partners. You got to have people that you understand where they’re cutting and where they’re going. I think we played three or four teams that in the last 19 games, they had the same starting five. That is hard on the guys, to be honest with you. But, give them credit. They did a heck of a job tonight under some strange circumstances. 

On the state of Michigan basketball…
No, it’s not another team - it’s our rival. But give them credit too, they are playing well; they came and won up at our place. They’re playing good basketball, I think it does bode well for our state. We are both competing; I think the next closest team has four, five loses. Not that I feel comfortable with that in any way, because the schedule the way it is who plays who twice. There is no levelness to it. Doesn’t mean you have played one-through-nine and nine-through-one. It doesn’t go how it used to go. So you could have some tough road games. We have some tough games coming up now. So I just feel good that we are in the hunt right now. After what we have gone through, we are in the hunt and that is what I told the players. You have to be in the hunt before you have a chance to win a championship. We are in the hunt; we have played solid. I don’t know we are anywhere where we are going to be, but I also think it is going to be hard to get there and get the smoothness back in the team. I am going to see what happens with Adreian (Payne) over the next two practices, but I have to be a little delicate there. Actually, considering he had two practices after that time off, he did well. So there are going to be some good games coming up before we go down there [Michigan]. They have to go to Iowa, we have to go to Wisconsin and so those will be some tough games. The state of Michigan doesn’t get any better than this.

On the scrappy play tonight…
Yeah I love that, Alvin [Ellis III] early let a guy go by him twice. We weren’t too happy with him. I think he is learning - he is a freshman, he is getting more minutes, he was the first sub off the bench. I was happy with that; I told him that the number one key on the board was bring your lunch bucket and hard hat because we have to get back to playing how we play. Then when you add in the shooting - they made some shots in the end, but I thought we were 25 up and we were playing some of our best basketball on both ends of the court and yet there were a million mistakes. It was just a weird game to me, but a good game for us.

On Keith Appling…
Yesterday, I thought he was practicing. I mean I have no idea. This has been the most frustrating. Because some of these injuries - we have a blister under a blister. Who the hell has ever heard of that? It’s beyond disgusting, but I have no time frame. I think they gave him something that is going to take a couple days. I know he won’t practice tomorrow, whether he does on Saturday, if he plays Sunday or whether we are going there without him. I wish I could tell you. I don’t care if Bo (Ryan) knows he is playing, so if I knew I would tell you.

On heading to Wisconsin…
Oh yeah, we need Keith (Appling). He is probably our best defender, he is still our best athlete, he is having a monster year considering with what he has been playing with the last month and a half especially.  He got better after the North Carolina game until I think the start of the Big Ten. It has been tough for him ever since. That guy has been playing on grit. So we do need Keith. We just don’t have enough subs. Alvin [Ellis III] is about the only guy we got now. I just don’t know what Keith is going to be able to do. But I know if he can play, he will play.

Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers

On Denzel Valentine’s play with Keith Appling out…
As soon as I heard that before the game, I thought coach (Tom) Izzo would start (Travis) Trice. We knew (Denzel) Valentine was going to be the playmaker. He really got things going. He played great. He did a lot of little things. He’s a tough matchup for us; he’s a big guard. When he’s knocking down his shot, it’s tough; it’s tough to defend him. He got in the paint a lot. He did some really good things; made winning plays for that team. Especially coming off that Georgetown game, they really stepped up and obviously they had some tough practices over the last few days.

On Michigan State’s different substitutions and lineups…
He does a great job with finding a mismatch against us. They played great against us, both games. Second half, they were terrific at our place. From the start here, they were terrific. They came and played with a lot of fire and a lot of passion. It’s not about the threes, it’s more about the extra rebounds really. They got a lot of extra possessions and a lot of second-chance points and that just breaks your back, it breaks your spirit. We tried to compete. Obviously, they played that much better, they really did. I thought we’d come in here and compete a little bit, I really did. I thought we’d give them a game. I said that to them after the game. I said ‘I thought we’d push you a little bit, and it just didn’t work out.’ That’s a high-level team. You’ve got two starters out and they go that deep into their bench. They’ve got a lot of talent on this team and they’re obviously well-coached.

On what his team will take away from tonight’s loss…
Honestly, we’ve got to learn from this because when you come in a league like I did, you look at these teams and you say ‘Alright, who do you want to kind of mirror?’ and it’s very simple, you want to mirror Michigan State. They’re very successful in what he does, in defending and rebounding and toughness. For us, we have to look at the guys that we’re playing at Michigan State and say ‘OK, what do they do well? And what can we do better?’ That’s what we’ll do tomorrow. We’ve got to learn from this defeat, because it’s important for us to learn. It’s not one of those burn-the-DVD type things. We actually have got to look at it and say we got out-hustled, we got out-worked and why did it happen and we’ve got to figure it out. It’s my job, to be honest with you. We’ve won three games in-a-row and in uncharted waters, and I need to do a better job of preparing them to play a team like Michigan State. It also tells me where we are and we still have a lot of room to grow and get better.

On his team playing well during its three-game win streak and then losing tonight…
I just think they played at such a high-level. I think that the basket looked like an ocean to them. Everything was going in. I think they hit a bank at the top of the key, that’s when you know it’s not your night. We had some decent looks and they didn’t go and then we missed some layups. We’ve got 18 to 23 year olds; I think we let the offensive-end dictate the defensive-end and I’m trying very hard to rid that mentality - keep playing through missed shots, keep playing through turnovers and things like that.

On Adreian Payne returning…
I was glad he was back. I want to play them at full-strength, because I’m a little crazy that way. I’d rather play them at full strength and see where we are and see what we can do and see where we have to improve and get better at. I watched our game so I knew a lot of the cuts, a lot of the things that they were going to do. He played great. It was like Willis Reed coming off the bench, the crowd was going crazy; it was a standing ovation. They used that, Coach Izzo used that really well as motivation for his team and for the crowd.

On assessing Michigan State as a team without two of its starters tonight…
I think it’s a great team. I don’t want too much pressure on Coach Izzo. It’s a great team. They’ve got a lot of weapons. The guys they’re bringing off the bench can all shoot and they’re very skilled. Obviously, they play hard. In this league, you’ve got to play hard. This is a man’s league. You’ve got to come out and you’ve got to play hard, you’ve got to play tough, you’ve got to play physical and that’s what they did.