MSU Spartans
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Men's Basketball
Indiana - 72, Michigan State - 68
 
 
 

 

 
 

Feb. 19, 2013

Recap |  Box Score |  Photo Gallery 1  |  Photo Gallery 2 

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement …
Well that was a very disappointing loss. I thought we had our chances but we really didn’t play well enough to win the game. We just made too many mistakes early. We had some of our key players that weren’t into the game. We had some distractions and I think it affected some guys. We bounced back in the second-half and played a little better. Give Indiana credit. For me, the MVP of this league, (Victor) Oladipo, made every play when he needed to. The tip-in was phenomenal. He did the job and the things he has to do offensively and defensively. We got off to such a poor start; I kept telling my staff that if we can be within 10 at halftime we have a chance. Then when we were within six, I was ecstatic. Maybe the best lineup I had when we came back in the second-half was the three freshmen, Dawson and Trice. So we had three freshman and two sophomores in there. We just had some guys that struggled and give Indiana a lot of credit for that. They played hard. They moved the ball well. They made some shots. There were a couple of critical calls that went both ways and unfortunately we missed some free throws. Gary Harris has maybe been the best player I have and we missed some [free throws] earlier that would have maybe given us a chance.

On what happened on the Oladipo tip-in and the Oladipo dunk…
With the dunk there was a mistake in the switch. The play that was the killer was the tip-in. What happened is he’s got incredible heart and he just did what he does. I can give you our scouting report right now -- cut him out, cut him out, cut him out -- and he went and got it.

On why Keith Appling struggled…
I really don’t know why to be honest with you, I felt bad for him. He just wasn’t himself. I think you get to the point where he is a very good defender and he kind of let his offense dictate his defense and that was the biggest problem early. All that being said, I think Zeller got four baskets out of the first five, and then we did a pretty good job after that. We just didn’t play well enough early. 

On the last 90 seconds of the game…
They made some plays? I don’t know if they made some plays, they missed shots and they got tip-ins.  That’s a play. Defensively, we did what we had to do and they missed a shot and he went and tipped it in. We missed a couple free throws that could have put us up five and then could have put us up four.  Then they get the play where he drives right, drives right, drives right…and he drove right. There were some things that really disappointed me with the discipline of my team tonight but it is keeping guys focused and sometimes you start thinking you’re better than you are. We didn’t play with the same energy and it was disappointing. 

On how tough it was to not give it everything they had…
Don’t take anything away from Indiana. They came into our place, where you should be eight points better and controlled the large part of the game. They outplayed us. We did not play very well and they had a lot to do with it. I thought inside they took it right at us and inside we were throwing up left-handed hooks, trying to get fouled. The play on Zeller was a tough play but it’s part of basketball.  We still had our chances. We make some plays or make some free throws and we still win the game. It was two good teams who played hard. In the second half I thought we played harder than in the first half. I thought Indiana played awfully hard the whole game and deserved to win. 

On the decision to use Denzel Valentine over Braden Dawson toward the end…
Branden was struggling a little bit early and cutting out too. Really both guys struggled on that but we just felt that was the way it was going. Branden was fine with it, we just felt Valentine was a little bit more of a shooter in there so we went with him. It was a coach’s choice.

On playing in a game that was “March like”…
We didn’t answer the bell if you ask me. I made a big point to tell my team we get too caught up with everybody and in the TV and everything. We always talk about buzzer-beaters and end of the game plays. Two points at the beginning, because you don’t guard a guy or don’t cover a back-cut, are the same as two points at the end of the game. They just all add up. Games aren’t lost with a free throw at the end, we just magnify it. That game was lost early I thought, they just took it at us and we have to give Indiana a lot of credit for that. 

For Indiana to come in on this night with the crowd as good as it was and the national audience, I think that speaks volumes of them. They deserve the credit.


Indiana head coach Tom Crean

Opening statement …
Sometimes these games don’t live up to the hype. We played Michigan at home a few weeks ago for College Gameday and it did. Without a doubt, tonight it did. We knew that it would be a battle and I’m sure they knew it would be a battle. We told our guys that this would be the most physical game of basketball up to this point of the year. There might be more coming down the road, but we had to make sure that we did our part because we knew that Michigan State would do their part. When you play in games like this, it is not just about how tough you are but also how smart you are and I thought our guys did an excellent job of that tonight. I thought Tom’s (Izzo) guys did a great job of that and that is why it was such a great game. There was a lot of drama and a lot of adjustments, and our guys did an excellent job of never getting down. The talk in the game kept getting better and better. We said numerous times that we had to have ‘Ohio State’ talk, and to us that refers to a couple of weeks ago when our talk went to the next level for us and we had to have that. People asked if Victor Oladipo is 100 percent and there is no way of knowing that Victor wasn’t close to 100 percent tonight. The way he played was excellent, but the way he finished this game when he was winded and there’s no doubt that his foot hurt. He might tell you different, but I’ve been around him long enough to know when he is right and I knew that his mind was right. We got some excellent basketball. I’m proud of our bench in the first half, because we knew it was going to be a fast paced game. I’m proud of the way that our guys continued to compete. Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls are high-level seniors. Statistics aside, they made leadership decisions and plays through the game. When you have a mature team, a smart team and a team that is invested like they are, we have a lot of conversations in timeouts and during the game. I’ve grown to be a tremendous listener, because they are out there in the middle of the battle. Great win against a great team. They are very deserving of everything that is said about them. I think they’ve been at a high level all year. I don’t think it’s a situation where all of the sudden they have gotten better, but rather they have been getting better all year. I think that is why they are so good, and why Tom is such an excellent coach and leader.

On Michigan State’s last possession…
I don’t think we fouled (Gary) Harris. We had no intentions of fouling. At that point, we were in a switching defense. We said the word “verticality” and any shot they were going to make was going to have to be earned. We did not want to foul in that situation. I’ll have to watch the film, but my initial reaction is that we didn’t. It was called and we dealt with it and played it out.

On knowing when Victor Oladipo would play…
I don’t think that we ever felt that he wouldn’t play. His attitude was great. He was rehabbing at such a high level. Being able to play and being able to play at a level of effectiveness, those are night and day things. I think what he did tonight was that he has tried his best the last few days to be himself, but he really hasn’t been. It’s not bad, but his maturity and level of toughness went up another notch. There is no way that he felt good and there is no way the he had the normal level of conditioning, but he has such a mental toughness. We came up here a year ago and we weren’t tough enough to beat them here at that time. There are always springboards in your season and that was one of them for us. Over the long haul, your team has to continue to grow, and Victor (Olidipo) epitomizes that growth. Not only what he is doing as player, but what he is doing as a leader is phenomenal.

On Christian Watford’s play…
Christian (Watford) was just a grown man the whole night. Air balling and having 15,000 people yell at him didn’t affect him one bit. We just kept coming. We had the foul situations and the flagrant, which I just trust, because those are high-level officials. He didn’t let any of that affect him. He just kept playing, and the pass he made at the end from the three-quarter court was something we drew up and he had the sense to get it inbounds. To have the presence of mind to get it inbounds and find Victor (Olidipo) running up the court was phenomenal. Christian made big plays all night like he has all season long. He drew a very tough assignment in guarding Derrick Nix.

Pre-Game Press Conference:

Former Michigan State basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson

On whether there was hesitation on coming to call the game…
Oh no. I was excited. No hesitation at all. They don’t even have to pay me, I told them (that). I’d come for free to see a game like this and be here at Michigan State. Indiana being No. 1 in the country, Michigan State (at) No. 4, being here at the Breslin, being back home, I get to see my family and I’m really close with Coach Izzo and the program so it’s just great to be a part of a game that is representing the Big Ten conference and a game of this magnitude. It’s just great for me. I would’ve watched it at home anyway, so it’s nice to be here and feel the atmosphere because it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere tonight.

On tonight’s matchup and following the Big Ten…
I follow the Big Ten even through being on ESPN or being on the Big Ten Network. I think that the first game was outstanding. Getting (Keith) Appling in foul trouble really hurt the Spartans down the stretch. I think that when you’ve got (Cody) Zeller and Victor (Oladipo), I hope that he’s ok, and that team can really shoot the basketball from the 3-point line. Michigan State has really come on strong. I love how Coach Izzo’s teams get better as the season goes along and I think that their inside play has really been the reason why, because both (Adreian) Payne and (Derrick) Nix - their game has really gone to another level. I think that Gary Harris has been an outstanding freshman, shooting the basketball well. I think with that (Branden) Dawson being healthy this season, you can see a difference with him too. He’s much more aggressive now. When you think about both teams, it starts with outstanding defense. The team takes on their coach’s personality, they’re both tough. They love to compete; they love to win. You’re going to see a dog fight tonight. But you’ve got a lot of players from both teams that are playing at the next level. I would say at least 10 guys or more, five from each, will be at the next level, because the NBA loves players coached by these two guys and they love winners and they’re competitive and they love defense. I think you will see a lot of these guys playing at the next level.

On working with Dick Vitale…
Oh man, Dick Vitale is college basketball. I mean, when you think about the way he can promote the game, the way he brings the fan in, and his colorful ‘Dick-isms’. It’s just incredible. I love listening to Dick call the game and telling you about not only the coaches, but the players. The crowd, he loves to play with the kids. He’s an ambassador of college basketball.  So I’m happy to work with him. I’ve known Dick since I was in junior high. Then Mike Tirico as well, we’re working with two of the best in not just basketball, but all of sports. I’m just happy to be a part of their team. I just hope I don’t mess those two guys up.

On maintaining professionalism while watching the Spartans play…
I must remain professional and do my job. Am I going to sit here and say I don’t want Michigan State to win? I would be lying and everyone else would know I’d be lying. I love Michigan State and it hurts me when they lose. Look, the Big Ten is by far the best conference this season and I would say, I really think that four or five (teams) in the Big Ten have a chance at the National Championship and we’re seeing two of those teams play here tonight.

On the strength of the Big Ten this year…
I think this comes right from when I played. You have to remember, Indiana won the NIT and we won the National Championship. That’s how strong the Big Ten was when I played. Joe Barry Carroll was No.1; Kevin McHale was No.1; I was No. 1. Remember there was a string of four of five years when we had the No.1 pick coming from the Big Ten conference. This almost rivals that time. When Ohio State was great, Herb Williams, I mean the Big Ten was outstanding with Phil Hubbard leading the University of Michigan. We had an outstanding time then. I think this rivals that. We haven’t seen this in a long time in the Big Ten. I’m happy that when Michigan gets to the tournament, they’ll be dangerous; Ohio State will be dangerous, Indiana is always dangerous and well coached. Of course these two teams tonight are the best at what they do, especially on the defensive end and rebounding.  Both teams are going to have to play their “A+” game to beat each other. Whoever wins is going to have to have their outside game going as well as their inside game.

On the passing of Dr. Jerry Buss…
You know Dr. Buss was my second father. He would want me to carry on and live life. I made a commitment to ESPN to be here so I’m here, but I’ll never forget Dr. Buss. I’m constantly in touch with the Buss family to make sure of the arrangements and what’s going on. He made me the man I am today; forget just the basketball player, but the man that I am. I owe a lot to Dr. Buss. I think the reason I own the Dodgers today is because of Dr. Buss and his expertise of giving me sound business advice and making sure I took care of my money and things of that nature. I owe him a lot. His spirit still lives through me. So I’m going to continue to be a good man and person, just like he was.

On the family atmosphere maintained in Michigan State basketball…
Everything we have going here started with Coach Heathcote and then passed onto Coach Izzo. Tom has done a wonderful job. Even though we didn’t play for Tom, he embraced all of us from myself, Greg (Kelser), everybody. Coach Izzo has a way of working and supporting all the players, whether they’re in the program now or in the past. We love being a part of Michigan State and the reason why is Coach Izzo. Then when you think about going to do that [traveling to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame induction] last night, that meant the world to Steve (Smith) and Mateen (Cleaves). To see Coach Izzo in the audience and support them on their special night, but that’s the man, that’s why he’s got a great program going because of the family environment. He’s always going to be there for you, to give you advice or just say “Hey, Happy Birthday.” Him and I talk all the time. I’m just happy he’s allowed me to be a part of this special program. He’s going to be with you for life, not just four years while you’re here. After you leave, Coach Izzo will still be a part of your life, just like if you were playing here today. His wife Lupe, same thing; we love them. All of us fans should be indebted to Coach Izzo.

On being nervous…
I’m always nervous with excitement and anticipation, but I’m not nervous to call the game, no. I know the game of basketball frontwards, backwards, high school, college, it doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. You put it in the basket, you defend, you pass the basketball, you rebound. It’s all the same. The only thing different is in college, maybe a little bit of zone. So I’ll look to that, if it’s a little 2-3 or 1-3-1 matchup. I know everything there is to know about basketball. I’m just happy I get to call a game like this. If you are going to call your first game, and probably my last, this is the one I’d want. And I’m at Michigan State too? Home? Let’s get the game going. I’m ready. It’s like I’m playing tonight.


 

 

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