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Men's Basketball
Michigan State 101, Grand Valley State 52



Oct. 29, 2013

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Michgian State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening Statements…
What time is the football game? I’m just kidding. Grand Valley had a couple of injuries but I think we did some things tonight that it wouldn’t have mattered who we played, but like always there were a couple negatives which I’ll hit first.

I think we way over-extended on the dribble-drive didn’t do a very good job of containing and because of that, we gave up more offensive rebounds than we usually do so, that was disappointing. Then the free throw shooting was also disappointing, our top guy Gary Harris went 6-11 which made a difference in that statistic. It was also great to see my two point guards back and you can see now how much we missed (Travis) Trice last year. We played him and Keith (Appling) together, we played them separately and they were effective at both times. We tried to do different things with our lineups to see what it would look like and even BJ (Branden Dawson) said we can play a lot of different ways, and we can, but we just need to remember to play the right way. All in all, it was good. 

(Kenny) Kaminski didn’t play for a couple of reasons, mostly not meeting the expectations throughout the summer.  It’s not anything worth breaking the bank over, no eligibility issue. We had meetings and things that he’s supposed to take care of and he just didn’t get them all done. I gave him a couple warnings and told him he’s going to miss the first few games. He’ll be back on track though, and he’s actually doing pretty well now and hopefully that will be an end to that.

Like I said, those guys had a lot of injuries, but they have a very good coach and those guys hit a lot of three’s against us in that stretch. The next team is a nationally-ranked Division 2 team that’s been to the NCAA tournament, so it will be good. We needed a game like this tonight and we’ll need a game like that on Monday to get ready for the season. 

On how big it was for Branden Dawson and Russell Byrd make their first shots…
It’s funny because as small as those things may seem, they’re actually big in terms of confidence. We need to get some confidence with our shooters. Our three-point shooting tonight was 14-27 so, I thought we got a few more up, which was good and yet, we still got to the line 30 times. So, it was good to see those guys make shots, but they have to remember to turn around and play at the other end as well. There’s nothing like making a few shots and those guys did. When you’re subbing like you’re subbing and trying new things it’s hard to get into a rhythm, so under those circumstances I thought they did a hell of a job.

On his conversation with Russell Byrd after he made his first three-pointer…
When he sat down, I heard one of the guys say welcome to Michigan State. You know the poor kid’s been through so much with all those injuries and hitting a three doesn’t make the world change but he looked comfortable and confident. He’s worked his tail off and he’s the healthiest he’s been by far since he’s been here and after all those surgeries, I liked the way all the guys pulled for him. I don’t know how it will be in the end, but it’s definitely one of the most close-knit teams we’ve had and I think you could see that’s evident.

On the improvement of Keith Appling…
Keith shot the ball better and threw a couple nice lobs, but had a few turnovers so we’ll dock him for that. He didn’t start the second half because I told him if he makes three threes, he would be benched. He was very solid and didn’t try and do things he couldn’t do or not control. It almost looks like the game is slowing down for him. He took open shots that were there and never forced anything that wasn’t, so that was encouraging. He can still guard and get after people and with certain lineups, he’s really going to be able to get after people. 

On whether he will look to get the ball inside more with Payne and Dawson…
I’m sure when I watch the film that will be one of the other negatives. They really packed it inside though because they knew our size was a problem, but if we’re going to be a really good, that’s something we need to improve on.  

On redshirt junior Alex Guana’s performance and what he will need to do to be a contributor this season…
I was pleased with Gauna. He’s another one of those guys that needs to maintain this. He looked real solid. He and Adrian Payne are the best communicators I have and those of you who are around me or have known me for a few years know that you would not have heard that very often. 

On whether this performance met his expectations…
You never really know when you play these games, but I think you’ll be able to see that we’re going to be able to score more points and that we’re going to run more.  When you make threes, it doesn’t matter who you’re making them against, so I think there were some things that were very encouraging.

Grand Valley State head coach Ric Wesley

Opening statement…
I really appreciate the opportunity that Michigan State gave us to come over and play. It’s always exciting for our guys. We don’t get a chance to play in that type of atmosphere and a venue like that very often, other than the times we’ve come over here so we really appreciate and look forward to it. First of all, hats off to Michigan State. This is my tenth year at Grand Valley and I think that might be the best team that I’ve seen since I’ve been here. They’re so strong in every position, they’re too deep, they’ve got size, they’ve got quickness, they’ve got athletic ability and they have such great experience, not only in their starters, but what I think makes them so outstanding is the experience that they got with their bench. They bring guys in there, (Travis)Trice and (Denzel) Valentine, and those guys coming up, (Alex) Gauna, those guys have been here for a long time. Well, not a long time, but they’ve been here awhile and they’ve played big moments in big games and so you don’t really drop off much. Our hope was that we could be competitive for a longer period of time. Obviously, we weren’t able to do that. Our hope was that we could pack it in there a little bit defensively, make them beat us from the outside, but they just shot lights out. I thought Keith Appling was phenomenal; he was five for seven from the three-point line. It’s going to be hard to beat him. So, I think you’re headed for a great season. We just have to regroup, go home and rebuild. We’ve got a couple injuries. We’ve got to get some guys back, a little more size and strength in the front line and move forward into our league play.

On being able to hang with Michigan State in the first half…
You don’t take it as a moral victory. I think we had a little stretch there in the first half. I thought we started out okay. We had some good possessions, we got the ball into our better players’ hands and we made some shots. So, we had a nice stretch and that was probably during that time. After that, I thought we took some hurried shots, some bad shots - wrong time, wrong place, wrong person - and when you do that against a team like them, with their size, we weren’t really able to give them much resistance on the glass. They rebounded shots so easily and they just got their outlet going; their fast break was just on top of us so quick, there really wasn’t much we could do. That’s the thing I told my team, I said there were periods of time in the first half when the game was interesting and we could’ve ran our stuff a little better, had a little better judgment on the shots, so on and so forth.

On how Michigan State’s athleticism and size affected them…
Well, it was pretty obvious, they didn’t miss many shots and they got nine offensive rebounds. (Adreian) Payne, obviously, (Matt) Costello is really an improved player, (Alex) Gauna and (Branden) Dawson, even the perimeter guys are big, strong guys. Gary Harris and (Denzel) Valentine, those guys, for their position, are big, strong guys. So it was hard for us to get an easy basket moving. Then when we did something good and got it in inside five feet, they swatted it or contested it, made it difficult for us to get it in there. So even when we had good offense, they’ve got some great guys who clean up the mess there at the back hand. No question that was a huge factor.




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