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Men's Basketball
Michigan State 86, Iowa 76 Post-Game Quotes
 
 
 

 

 
 

March 7, 2014

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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement…
I don’t know where to start. It was an interesting game. The way it started, I will give them a lot of credit - they played well, they pushed the ball. We looked so poor defensively. I think that’s the worst I’ve seen Keith Appling play in the first ten minutes. There were a lot of tough things about the job, but the good thing is when you get players to respond.

At halftime, we really challenged Keith. I mean, Keith Appling the first half to the second half was Keith Appling the last six weeks to Keith Appling the first six weeks. I think the great part about it is - it sounds ridiculous - if you watched our bench, they were so happy for him. I’ve said all along, “When you’ve got a quarterback, when you’ve got a point guard, if the head dies, the body goes.” The head had been a little bit knocked unconscious for a couple weeks for a variety of reasons, most of them not his fault. I think you saw it better the second half, playing him and Travis (Trice) together.

The Spartan game wouldn’t be the Spartan game if somebody didn’t …when Gary (Harris) went down, I thought it was his back, but he was just cramping up over his whole body. It’s kind of poetic justice I guess.

Adreian (Payne) did some things and some of that Iron Mountain crew came in there for a while. (Kenny) Kaminski made a couple big shots. I thought maybe the unsung hero of the game was Branden Dawson. If you look at his stat line, BJ (Branden Dawson) is 4-7, seven rebounds, eight points, two assists, three blocks, and five steals. He did an incredible job. (Roy) Devyn Marble, who you’ve got to give a lot of credit to, made some shots, but he made some tough shots. BJ kept saying to give him (Marble) to him (Dawson) in the huddle. That, for us, was a step in the right direction.

I think we still were a little bit out of sync, but it was a lot better performance the second half against what I think is a very good team. It was a physical game. I’ve been complaining our team is not tough enough. I said we’ve lost our two toughest guys in Dawson and Appling, but tonight, I thought both teams played awfully hard.

On the turnaround of play from poor to good at the start of the second half…
We came out and said we were going to be more aggressive, but not to foul because Iowa does such an incredible job of getting to the free-throw line through the whole year. The last thing I wanted to do was get them on the line. Sure enough, we got those five fouls and in my humble opinion, there were just some touchy fouls. That made it hard. We told them, like Mark Dantonio, we’re not changing our ‘D-backs’ at Notre Dame. We’re not going to change what we do. I thought Keith kept pressure on and did a better job on Marble at times, because he is really good.

Then, we got our running game going and got the ball inside a little more. We did a poor job of that, and that falls on my shoulders, in the first half. I credit it to halftime when I said we have to stop talking it and start walking it.

It’s not an excuse, what these guys have been though. Most human beings wouldn’t be able to go through, most teams wouldn’t be able to go through what these guys have been through. I told them it was time that we’d make a run and we’ve got to play better than them.

On moving into a more regular rotation with the lineups…
There were a couple of times when Travis, Kenny and Alvin (Ellis III) were in because we had Gary hurt and a little bit of foul trouble with Keith. I thought the other guy that did a pretty good job was (Matt) Costello. He did some pretty good things. We had some trouble stepping up on those curls and the second half, Adreian Payne did a much better job, and so did Costello. I guess when you look at those big shots in the second half, Kaminski hit a couple and Trice was phenomenal. They had him down for five turnovers, because he probably did, but most of them were good turnovers because most of them went out of bounds.

At the end of the game, I didn’t want to foul and I wanted to get those seniors in, so I’m yelling at Appling to throw the ball out and he’s yelling at me, “No.” There’s a disrespectful senior if I ever saw one. The guy’s so worried about his turnovers, he didn’t want to, so I told him to give it to Denzel and he didn’t want to either. I said, “You’re an underclassman, turn that thing over.” So, he threw it out and that was good. It’s special for these seniors around here to end the right way with the Spartan head and I’m just happy.

On coaching different situations with Gary Harris…
Well that’s a part of us not playing together. You hit the nail on the head. I mean for a long time Gary (Harris) had to do everything. I mean we had A.P. (Adreain Payne) out of there, Keith (Appling) out of there, that one game we had (Travis) Trice out of there. So then you are asking a guy to do more, and then you tell them to do less, and that’s the things that I can talk hours on, the number of nights I have stayed up trying to figure things out, I am still trying to figure out I have never heard of this, I have never seen it. Think about Gary (Harris), think about the guys, that is part of the problem. But Gary was fine, he went back in. I was just worried; I thought it was his back, but it was just cramps throughout his whole body. So, he will recover from that.

On fatigue on Senior Day…
I thought that was Keith’s problem. I told our guys before that it doesn’t matter if you loved it or hated it here, whatever, this will be a memory-making night. There will be emotions that you don’t think you have, that you have. It’s the way it is. I have never seen a guy from hard cores like Antonio (Smith) and (Derrick) Nix, and guys like that, to the soft guys who feel that way, it affects everybody. You’re a senior at a place like this you put in a lot of work, I think that’s why you get fatigued early. We worry about that every senior night. It is a little better since we had the ceremony before. But it is still their last jump ball, their last, their last. There are not many things in your life that you are doing for your last time, there is only a few, and that was one of them.

On slowing down Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble…
Keith (Appling) did a better job, Gary (Harris) did a better job and then in fairness to like Gary and them, you know when you guard a guy like him, they are rubbing him off those screens, and they do a great job on those curls. Our bigs have to step up; first half they weren’t steeping up.  So it is like everything else, defensively it was a team effort and if one guy looks bad when a guy is guarding a guy, but if the other guys don’t do their job, then it doesn’t get done. So you ask a Gary Harris to trail him, and if the guy is supposed to step up doesn’t, then he is going to be there for the layup if he curls. Everybody had to do their job. But I will tell you what, that kid was good the first half - he was really, really good. I got to see his dad after. He is a good kid. I am happy for him, I am just glad we won.

On the play of Branden Dawson...
I told him after the game, I graded him about a sixty because he did, but he also took some time off here and there. An incredible play was when he blocked that shot and then he was down at the other end and he didn’t make the layup because the guy cut him off, but I don’t know how he got there. I can’t wait to see it on the film. I said you are going to question me questioning you when you just blocked a shot on one end and you almost got a layup on the other end. I said forget it, don’t even talk about it, it was an incredible play, that’s what you are capable of doing and he has incredible ability. He is just coming back. He has got a ways to go, but boy it is fun to have him back because he is a livewire and they know it.

On the rotation allowing for rest…
Yeah you know, I thought we did a little better job. Some of it was by necessity when (Gary) Harris got hurt or when we got in foul trouble. It wasn’t as smooth. D.J. (Dwayne Stephens)  and I did meet for the first time in three months trying to come up with something. D.J. had a list on how he was going to rotate them. But I can’t say we hit good, but I think we made a little bit of progress and we just have to do a better job so guys don’t get tired. Gary (Harris) for some reason tonight was cramping up at the beginning. I mean we took him out; D.J. took him out three minutes into the game. He said, ‘I just can’t hit my second wind,’ He never got it, but he made big plays too. He defended pretty well once he got going.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery

On if the game was allowed to be more physical in the second half…
Yeah.

On if Iowa was mentally in-tune to begin the second half…
Yep.

On the emphasis on hand checking and the difference in the way the game was called from the first half to the second half…
Yeah. I think you make a great point; it’s hard to play it.

On MSU’s three point shooting…
You got to give them credit, they were making them. They were shooting them in rhythm. Some of them were tough, but some of them were wide open, so that’s our fault.

On if there is a “common element” to how Iowa has given up points on defense…
I don’t think so.

On how he tries to see how the officials will call the game…
I don’t know. Your answer to that question is as good as mine. I give up. I surrender. Apparently, I’m the bad guy all the time.

On how MSU looked tonight compared to how they looked in their last couple of games…
They made threes. Again, like I said, it’s partly our fault, but you’ve got to give them credit. They haven’t been making threes in their losses. You look at their box scores – when they make threes, they win; when they miss threes, they lose. I don’t think there’s anything scientific, because they run good stuff. They’re going to get open threes, they’re going to get the ball to people where they can do some damage on you. But if they’re not making threes, which [Keith] Appling wasn’t, [Gary] Harris was off a couple of times, sometimes he’s on fire. When that happens, you can just pack the defense in and dare them to shoot. The same thing happened to Ohio State earlier in the year. Everybody was packing it in, they couldn’t make a jumper, [Lenzelle] Smith started getting hot, [Sam] Thompson started getting hot, [Aaron] Craft hit a few and they started winning again. I really think that when you look at this team, you wouldn’t think they’d have trouble shooting threes with all of the three-point shooters they have. Of course, they had some injures. [Adreian] Payne was out, Appling hurt his wrist. [Kenny] Kaminski, [Denzel] Valentine, [Travis] Trice; they’ve got plenty of guys who can make it. But some nights, you start slow, the other team gets ahead. I think one of the things that helped them tonight was that they were hitting early. So even though we were scoring, we played really well in the first half, too.

On Zach McCabe leaving the bench late in the game…
I just think that in that situation, there’s no reason to bring him in. It just makes no sense. Just go to the locker room, it’s over, no big deal. Now all of the sudden, a spark can become a forest fire and we don’t need that. I think everybody was settled down, I don’t think it would have been any issue, but why risk it.

On how he gets his team back on mentally for Illinois…
They’ll be fine mentally. We’ll be all right. We’ve done this all year. That’s what this league is. Sometimes you have longer preps, sometimes things fall out of the ceiling. You just deal with it.


 

 

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