MSU Spartans
Rotating image
Men's Basketball
Michigan State 85, Northwestern 70 Post-Game Quotes
 
 
 

 

 
 

Feb. 13, 2014

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

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement...
Well, I thought we were really shaky early defensively. And yet, I think the difference in this team [Northwestern] from the first time we played them - I told Chris [Collins] - [Drew] Crawford is such a good player and a great kid and [JerShon] Cobb has really come on. Those two guys chewed us up early, I thought. I was really impressed. I told my guys before the game that the difference in their team early and now is Cobb. What's the difference in our team? We finally ran a little bit better and Adreian Payne is a big difference. They were doubling him down low and then he's got kick-outs where he's moving the ball. Still not really sharp on it. Getting Gary [Harris] and everybody back together, that ball goes into Adreian and they were doubling and tripling him sometimes, which created some openings. So, we'll hopefully get better at that. I thought the big key to the second half was when Gary and Denzel [Valentine] went out with foul trouble and Alvin [Ellis III] and Russell [Byrd] came in and actually played very good defensively. That made a difference and we just kind of went to Adreian as much as we could. We had 22 assists on 32 baskets. We're getting back to the way we played. Seven turnovers and my two point guards - six [assists] and one [turnover] for Denzel and six [assists] and zero [turnovers] for Travis [Trice]. That means Travis doesn't have a turnover yet [in the last three games]. Phenomenal getting four guys in double [figures] and [Matt] Costello with nine - that was great. [Kenny] Kaminski got a few rebounds. We did some good things, but we didn't guard like we normally guard and they shot 46 percent and 37 [percent] from the three. That was the only disappointing part. I'm amazed at the job Chris has done there. They got some guys that got healthy after sitting out last year. They're going to be a nice team down the stretch and a nice team next year. 

On the combination of Matt Costello and Adreian Payne...
They didn't play a ton [together] and Matt [Costello] was playing good. Some of the lineups, we're trying to get AP to be at the five so we could pick-and-pop him against [Alex] Olah and do some things against them. I thought that they played very well together. We've just got to figure out now what we're going to do with our switching and that is so different from the past. Ball screens - we had a little problem going under earlier and they were rolling us out. I thought we did a poor job and we made some adjustments at halftime. Those two guys - it gives Adreian the freedom to go all over and Matt, as you say, is finding a way to play off of him. Adreian goes to the post and Matt goes to the opposite wing. I thought he did a good job of cleaning up some on the weak side and Adreian did the same thing.

On Travis Trice's getting healthy and leadership...
Well, I think a little bit of both. He's looking to be a true point guard first. That first ball we got the ball up the court so much better than we've been doing. That was one of the keys - let's make sure we get back to running. When you run, you got to rebound. When you think of Adreian [Payne] and [Brandon] Dawson out of there and you get [Denzel] Valentine back in there rebounding - someone told me he is the third-leading rebounder in the league and I think that that is an unbelievable stat for him. I think Travis is playing comfortably in that role. He still took a few shots, which was good. For the most part, he was really pushing the ball early. There's no question that Travis is 10 times healthier than he was for really most of this year. He has the illness early, then he had a little bit of illness after Christmas, then he had the blisters and now he's the healthiest he's been and I think that's a big reason for it.

On Gary Harris's struggles lately...
There's no question. It's hard. I mean he had 13 shots; he had some open ones and he made a few. But he's probably not playing like we're used to seeing him play and I think there's no question that he's pressing. That's just some of the things you have to learn. We're seeing it with a lot of players right now - not just here and not just in the Big Ten. That's the disappointing part for me about all the other stuff that goes on - whether it be NBA or all of the other stuff. Players just get to that point. He is smart enough and tough enough to get through it. Tonight was better, but it wasn't, like you say, the Gary [Harris] that we know. He'll deal with the pressure - it's okay to have some on you. He's going to have more pressure than this someday, so he better figure it out. He'll do okay. I'm not worried about Gary.

On Northwestern's coach Chris Collin's belief that "When healthy, Michigan State is the best team in the country"...
Well, he just got fired from Duke - I know that. I share the fact that we've got a chance to be one of the best teams in the country. I do believe that. We've hung in there all year. We've hung in the top-10 all year. When you guys ask me that million dollar question, "So where's your team at right now?", I never give you a very good answer, because I really don't know. I wish I did. I know that I love this team. I love the fact that we've got good players and we've got great guys and interchangeable parts. But we're still not functioning and as guys come back, it'll change it again. I like our chance, if we get everybody back, to be a very, very good basketball team. We've got a chance along with those six, eight or 10 other teams. I've been so concentrated on my guys, because we've got so many things to deal with that I can't say I've watched everybody to really see. I've seen the teams in our league and I've gotten the chance to watch Syracuse a little bit [along with] Duke and Kentucky. Those are all good teams. With AP [Adreian Payne] healthy, and if we get Keith [Appling] back, and if we get BJ [Brandon Dawson], our running game, you wonder why we don't run and for while I told you it was [Matt] Costello. Then we started looking at why we're not running. We have different guys taking the ball out and stuff; we just weren't getting clean rebounds. We were getting rebounds that were getting tapped around and somehow ended up in a guard's hand. That rebound where AP is going up and over and getting it out and we're going - you didn't see many of those in the past three weeks. That makes a difference in your break. When I say that one guy can affect a lot of things, trust me, he can.   

On the pressure on Gary Harris versus the pressure on football players...
I think the one thing that's different in football compared to basketball is there is such an eye on you. Not only are you out there half naked number one, you don't have the helmet and all that stuff to hide behind, but with guys being able to leave earlier in basketball, it always puts added pressure on. The way we made it as a society, if you're a senior you've got the plague or something. Those kinds of things add up, too. Great family, great kid, he'll work his way through it. It's not always bad to fail a little bit either; we all do, I can tell you the times I have. Usually it made me a better person and probably a better coach. I think sometimes in this generation, in the trophy generation that we have, nobody ever goes through a lot of tough times. We all would agree, since we're all graduates, that when you leave college it's a dog-eat-dog world. This is part of the learning process. Just think, an average day for him is almost 50 percent from the three, almost 50 percent from the field, 14 points, three assists, one turnover. I can think when those were superstar days here. You're all right, he is feeling it a little bit, but he'll get by it.

On if he is surprised about how dominant Adreian Payne has come back after injury...
I would honestly have to say I am a little surprised. What I like is I think he learned something, too. When he was first injured, he didn't want to ride the bike, he didn't want to swim in the pool, he didn't want to do those things. Then when he had people talk to him, he really started working. I guess, even though it was very hard, I'll give myself some credit that I found a way to hold him out maybe a week longer than I could have. I think that helped, because he's not any worried about his foot at all. It's amazing. I'm amazed, though, at his conditioning. Here's a kid that two or three years ago couldn't get up and down the floor more than 15 or 18 minutes a game. Now he's carrying our team. I'm proud of him. I'm happy for him. We've got a lot of work to do. There is a frustration a lot of times with a lot of players - Adreian (Payne) has it, Gary (Harris) has it. Some is because of all the hype, some is because after you come back from an injury, you want to do all the things you used to be able to do. It just doesn't happen. Sometimes it takes longer than others. He sure has been a monster. He's getting rebounds, I won't say like old times, better than old times. He's going up with two hands. That's one thing a coach will tell you - there's a lot of guys that go up with one hand and are protecting their bodies. I talked to Day Day [Draymond Green] after and I said, `I told you man, he's gotten stronger. He posts stronger, he's just been better.' He's going to have to learn how to kick it out a little quicker; a couple times he held onto it a little too long. He's going to get doubled in that. We're going to find a way to get him back in and get Gary and everybody back 100 percent. It's going to get better. To answer your question in that long answer, I'm a little surprised that he's come back as strong so quickly. I still want to make sure we kind of bring him along too, because he does get frustrated still at times, because he thinks he should be able to drive and make a great play and he turned that one over. He was mad at himself. He's got to get through that, but that's what happens when you've been out for awhile.

On if the play of Travis Trice slows down the anticipation of getting Keith Appling back...
No, not at all and I'll tell you why. We're getting to that time of year where, Chris (Collins) said it to me, he dealt with it at Duke with a couple of their players Kyrie Irving and Ryan Kelly. If you remember, Kelly came back and scored I think 40 against Miami; it was unbelievable. Then he didn't have 40 the rest of the year. It's hard to come back when you've been out. It's even harder to come back and put three or four new players together. We have got to get a rotation down as soon as we can. It doesn't have to be Keith (Appling) playing a ton of minutes; it just has to be a rotation. We do have to practice with guys. To think we're going to be able to do that in the last week of the season and be ready for the Big Ten Tournament and then the big dance, that's not going to happen. The positive side of things is Keith's been a three-and-a-half year starter or a three year starter. He's had experienced guys that played with him. He and Travis (Trice) do well together; it will give us a little bit more flexibility there. As I said, if there's a positive, I think (Matt) Costello got better when we had injuries. I think with Trice, now that he's not part of the injured group is getting a lot better. I think (Denzel) Valentine, even though he maybe wasn't quite as good tonight defensively early, but boy he did a lot of good things. He's just getting better and better and better. He had one of his moments late in the game and it gave me a reason to make sure that he doesn't get a big head. He had six assists, he's getting rebounds, he's making shots and he's defending better. He played a complete game and I'm happy for him. No matter why early in the season we were on him so hard, we kind of know what he's got to give.

On Branden Dawson timetable for return...
Don't get mad for me getting mad at you. Ask the doctors, I have no clue. I really don't. Just like with (Keith) Appling, I have no clue. Here's what I know - on the 20th or 21st, he gets the pins out, then they'll x-ray him and they'll have some idea. So in eight days from now he'll get them out. I'm guessing it might be another week; that's why I said I could see two weeks minimum. Branden Dawson came back in seven-and-a-half, eight months with an ACL. There are guys that are out a year and three months in the NBA. The guy's a freak. I told him , `Give me that hand, I bet it's healed already.' He just heals. It could come earlier, but guys, I really have no idea and it sounds so ridiculous, but I just don't. I gave permission to our doctors - you can talk to these guys, because they've got to know. I'm not Bill Belichek-ing you and hiding the injuries, but I'm telling you that I just have no clue. Here's what I'm hoping - I'm hoping that within a week, Keith comes back. Is it out of the realm that he could come back Sunday? I'm not betting my house on it, but if you want to bet yours, go ahead. I'm hoping next week. I'm hoping that sometime in the mid-twenties or early twenties of this month, we'll get Branden back some. I would be willing to say by the end of the month, I feel comfortable enough that he would be back, but as well as his knee healed, maybe his fingers take longer.

Northwestern head coach Chris Collins

Opening statement...
Congratulations to Michigan State - I thought they played really well. They're just a very difficult team to play against because they have weapons from all over the court, especially now because last time we played them they didn't have the element of (Adreian) Payne in the paint where he causes you to help so much. We had to pick our poison a little bit in terms of what we wanted to try to give up. We wanted to take our chances a little bit earlier in the game with our jump shooting. I thought (Denzel) Valentine was tremendous; I thought (Travis) Trice played really well. I thought their role guys, (Kenny) Kaminski had a couple offensive rebound putbacks and obviously Payne is as good as any front-line player that we've played against all year long; he's a great player. I was proud of our guys; we didn't quit, we hung in there. We got down by 19, I thought and we made a quick push to get it back to 11 and I thought we played until the buzzer. That's what we've talked about and that's what we're tying to do. We've just got to regroup and get ready for the weekend and Minnesota on Sunday.

On the duo of Adreian Payne and Matt Costello...
It's a great duo, and what happens is that they're so versatile because they start a big physical lineup and they come in with (Kenny) Kaminski and he gives them the three-point shooting. He's so versatile - he can play as a power forward and we're undersized as it is, so when they have that big lineup in there, I thought they were physically dominant. They're learning how to play well together. It's not easy when you have the injuries they've had, when you're constantly shuffling and trying to fight, it's a testament to what coach (Tom) Izzo has done with the group. Whosever out there just plays at a high level. They're the standard of excellence in this league, so it was a great learning experience for our guys. I thought we played hard, we battled, we just played against a better team, and they played well.

On the noise in the Breslin Center and MSU's offensive rebounds...
They hurt us on the boards early. It kind of set a tone. I also thought they were able to impose their will with the pace. They did a good job of getting it up the floor fast. (Travis) Trice was pushing, passing up the sidelines. Whether they score or not, we're not very deep so it gets into our guys' legs a little bit where they have to run like that every possession. They definitely imposed their will on the boards physically. They had a big size advantage and they took advantage of it. I thought our guys, especially early in the game, our communication on both ends, not only defensively, but I thought offensively we were having a hard time getting into our sets, especially because I was on the other end of the court. It was a great learning experience for our guys in that regard. In a hostile environment, we have to talk louder; you've got to be more commanding. But we definitely had more breakdowns tonight defensively than I thought we've had in the last month. Part of that is them running a really good offense, and part of that were some breakdowns we had that we just haven't had.  

On what he thinks MSU can do when healthy...
When healthy, I truly believe they're the best team in the country. I really do. I felt that early in the year when I watched them play when they did have guys healthy. I just think when you put all those guys out there, when you've got Keith [Appling] running the point, you've got Gary [Harris] being that scorer and defender on the wing, [Adreian] Payne, and if you can get [Branden] Dawson back, and now the experience these other guys have gotten, [Matt] Costello, [Travis] Trice now is a backup, they're loaded. I hope they can get healthy, because you never want to go through a year thinking what if you would have had our guys. Hopefully, they can get their guys back and it would be exciting to see what they can become. I feel they're the best team when they have all their guys healthy.

On Northwestern's offensive success tonight...
I thought we executed well. I think sometimes, too, they were scoring at such a high-rate; I think sometimes the game gets kind of in a high-scoring type of game, maybe it was a little bit of both. I thought we shared the ball well; we didn't turn it over which in the first game against them, I think we only scored 40 points. We had a real struggle the last time. I thought we executed well; I thought guys made shots. I thought we did some really good things offensively and we have to build upon that. In this league, it's so tough. We had a tough night tonight, we played against a really good team, we've got to regroup and we've got a couple days to get ready and go back home and play Minnesota.

On some of Northwestern's learning experiences...
When you play against a really good team, you've got to learn what makes a good team good. I thought they talked really well, I thought their ability to force us to play their game. We've been doing a good job the last month of making people play our game. I thought since the Iowa game a few weeks ago, they did the best job against us of imposing their will, making us play at their tempo, at their speed and we just can't matchup to that. That's what really good teams do. I always try to use that example with our guys - really good players, really good team, because that's what we strive to be. We're not there yet, we've made a lot of progress, but there's still another level we need to get to in order to compete with teams like this.

On the difficulty of slowing down a team like MSU...
It was difficult. They're athletic and they played a lot of guys. I only played six or seven. I don't have a lot of depth, so it's a challenge for us. We need [Drew] Crawford to play almost 40 minutes, [JerShon] Cobb, [Tre] Demps, and it's impossible for them to play at that kind of pace for 40 minutes. I think the thing that makes them good too is that they have multiple ball handlers. [Denzel] Valentine can bring it up, [Gary] Harris can bring it up and [Travis] Trice can bring it up. I think [Alvin] Ellis [III] is getting better. When you have multiple guys who can advance the ball, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense in transition.

On MSU's offense with Travis Trice on the floor...
Watching film the last couple games, we talked about it coming in - he's very confident. I thought he played well against Wisconsin the other day. He's shooting the ball confidently; he's got a presence out there and is playing like a veteran point guard. Obviously he's a different type of player than Keith (Appling), but I'm impressed with how he's playing. He's poised, he's running their team and he's making open shots. It's going to be an added dimension now when Keith gets healthy, now they have two of those guys; that's a pretty good combination.


 

 

SHOP NOW

at the official
Online Store