Michigan State 71, Northwestern 61
 
 
 

 

 
 

March 10, 2013

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

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening remarks…
How about Nix-500 and some practices, 130 and some games he has played. DJ (Coach Dwayne Stephens) says it’s the eighth wonder of the world that we got him through it. He was the one guy that actually played pretty well tonight. I think what I said out there happened to all of us.  The crowd, the players and everybody -- their mood changed a little bit. We had something to do with that and in all honesty, a lot of people get a lot of credit in these jobs. Bill Carmody did a great job. For him to get his team out, they had played so many people pretty well. I love the guy. He’s got about as beat up of a crew as you can have with three starters on the bench. I think he had something to do with it. So it wasn’t one dimensional, but it did bother us a little bit I’m afraid to say even though I talked about not trying to worry about anything else other than what we can control.  For me, it was a no brainer--just control what we can control and move on. Players--you know I’ve won seven of those things and some of those guys haven’t won one yet--so I think it has a bigger effect. Yet to shoot 66 percent, 60 percent from the three and 75 percent from the line, and struggle to win is a little concerning.  I didn’t think we covered great and I didn’t think we rebounded well. Then when the first play of the game they banked in that three, I kind of swallowed my tongue and said uh-oh. They hit a couple of long shots and we missed some too.  All in all, I’m just proud of this team for showing up 31 different times. We’ve found a way to not do what so many other teams have done. Now we’ve got something to look forward to and try to move forward in this tournament, which will be like a final four if you look at the number of teams ranked. This is way bigger than some final fours I have been in. 

On whether he could forgive them for not having their best game after so many big games…
I don’t want to forgive them because at this time of the year you want to be moving forward, but I understand there was so many emotional things that went on this past couple of days. I understand that, but we opened the door for Northwestern when we had them down eight or 10 moves ahead. To their credit, they did the job and we didn’t. You have to win tight games too.  When it came down to it, we started getting the ball back inside and we did the things that we had to do. That’s going to do well for us in the tournament. Bill did a great job; we thought for sure he was zoning. He had been zoning all the time and he completely fooled us. All we really worked on was against the 1-3-1 and 2-3, then they came out and manned the whole game. So free pass, I understand it, but at least the focus when I came into the locker room this morning was great. So like I said, they’ve shown up every time. I’ve had a lot of great teams, including a national championship team that didn’t do that. 

On if not having a Big Ten title changes what the team is about…
I hope not. It won’t for me because there is no question if we were picked third and forth in this league, I still say we had the toughest schedule of anybody in this league and we were right there in the last day still with a chance to win the Big Ten championship. Since we won our first one, that’s where I’ve wanted the program to be. We didn’t win them all and I think we’ve lost three now in the last day-two on our own and one with other help. I don’t think it should change it, but some of it’s going to depend on what we do as we move on. It won’t change the fact that this team went through the most brutal schedule. I don’t know what it’s ranked now, but it was number one at some point last week. It is one of the most brutal schedules in the whole country. Last year, our schedule was ranked number one in the country. We’ve ducked nobody and I’m so proud of that and Mark Hollis is and the president is. We’ve got a lot of things to feel good about, but it’s this time of year now when you get measured a little bit on what you do from now on. The first measuring stick, I think we passed, I really do. Now the ones coming up are going to be even more crucial. 

On how far Derrick Nix has come…
His high school coach is a heck of a guy and he’s been here the whole time. His mother--when I went through tough times with him a few times, one time in particular--was a rock.  She was so good that I swear to you at that time, one of the reasons I kept banging my head against the wall was because of her. She understood it, she didn’t make excuses, she told me how she would of handled it and it was probably worse than I would have handled it. I meant what I said, Antonio (Smith)’s taught me a lot, the Mateen (Cleaves)s have taught me a lot and the Travis (Walton)s have taught me. I learned a lot from this kid. I just hope he continues to move forward now.  When he walks, the party is at my house. He has to get himself healthy again. With the fluctuation of weight and how hard he has had to work, he’s got some wear and tear on that body. I think if we can get it back down to exactly where we want it and get him some rest, he’s going to play somewhere. So I guess, off the court we’ve learned a lot. Everybody doesn’t have what I have and I don’t have what some people have. You better give your kid a chance to fail and succeed. 

Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody

On the game…
We have been turning the ball over a lot lately, which is uncharacteristic and we wanted to stress and emphasize not doing that. We had six in the first half and only one in the second half, so we certainly did what we came in trying to do offensively. I think if you’re going to beat a team like this, you don’t have to be perfect, but you have to play really well and knock down shots. It was tied at both 51 and 53. We had a good shot from (Kale) Abrahamson that looked like it was down and popped out and then we had a drought. I thought the guys executed pretty well. That’s a very good team and they didn’t miss too many shots and had a lot of stuff around the basket. They didn’t kill us on the boards, but they didn’t miss too many shots either. I thought we played how we wanted to play, but you have to knock down some shots.

On his team heading into the Big Ten Tournament…
We played pretty well tonight. Right now, it is day-to-day and week-to-week, especially with a lot of young guys out there. I thought our freshman played well tonight. I thought that coming into this place, they were aggressive and did a nice job. We have Iowa who has beaten us twice pretty good. I think Illinois and Iowa are the two most veteran teams, so we can’t trick them because they don’t make too many mistakes. We have to figure out how we are going to play and see if we can control the game because they have a lot of guys that can put the ball in the basket.

On the play of Alex Olah…
I thought he was good tonight and this was one of his better games. I thought defensively he did a nice job against a couple of big kids in there. He knew when to pass and when to try and score. I thought the game slowed down for him which is a good sign. There has definitely been some improvement there.

On the teams play over the last two games…
We lost to Penn State so we didn’t play well there. We have had a couple decent games against Ohio State who is pretty good. I thought tonight we did a good job and just weren’t able to close the deal.

On the team’s play the first 15 minutes of the second half…
A couple of turnovers late or run-outs hurt us. That is a pretty good transition team. We tried to pick and choose when to double team Derrick Nix. He hurt us a few times finding another guy under the basket in the first half and he threw it out to (Travis) Trice a couple of times. He is a big kid who sees the floor, so we tried to change up our double teams.

On the momentum shift the last five minutes…
They are a good team at home. I don’t know exactly what shifted the momentum. I thought we had a nice shot there from Reggie Hearn right in front of our bench that he just missed. To beat that team, you have to be 12-27 and not 7-27. I’ll look at the tape and see, but for the most part they were pretty good looks.