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Michigan State vs. North Florida Post Game Quotes

Nov. 10, 2017

Recap |  Box Score |  Notes |  Photo Gallery 

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement…
I feel good about part of (the game), I feel lousy about part of (the game). I thought our defense, for the most part, other than the ball-screen defense that were a couple of our bigs, was phenomenal. Guards played hard. Some guys stepped up well. I had a couple guys that just didn’t do the job. Cassius Winston took a big step in the right direction, but as I told him on the bench, in any other sport, when one guy doesn’t do his job, it makes the other guy look bad. Sometimes on those high ball-screens we just struggled a little bit, when we did it right, we were awesome. I was disappointed in their shooting. It’s a shame because I thought we had some good shots. I was really pleased with our rebounding. I was really pleased with some of our assists, some of our passes. It was great to get to the free throw line that much. But on the other side of it, it can be deceiving. The points you score can be deceiving, you’ve got to play a complete game, and that’s the only part of it. I got a couple of guys who didn’t play both ends, so we’ll try to crack that. The team we played, we watched them on film. You read the stuff on them, talked to their coach after, thinks he has a good chance to be good, so maybe I’m not giving our guys enough credit. I felt we did a pretty good job, hit some 3s, but I said (North Florida would) take 25 to 30 (3s), they took 29 3s. They hit a couple at the end, or otherwise I think we would’ve held them to 30 percent. We’re at 31 field goals and gave up a few at the end, which really bothers me that guys that don’t get a chance to play as much go in there and don’t play as hard I think they should play. So, I guess I’m happy about some of it, not very happy about the other, but I’m ready to move on. We’ve got a big game on Tuesday, after our big (football) game tomorrow.

On his assessment of Jaren Jackson Jr.’s performance…
I was really impressed by Jaren, because for the most part he handled the ball-screens. A couple of times he went brain dead which freshmen are going to do. But I had some sophomores and juniors that did it worse. He had four blocks, but I thought he had about four others that were intimidated. Really, really, really, and I should’ve let off. When you only take six shots, but go 9-for-10 from the line, so we got him the ball a lot. Thirteen rebounds, three assists, one turnover, four blocks - that’s a monumental day. And Miles (Bridges) getting 15 in 10. You know those guys played 25 and 27 and 22 minutes so it wasn’t like they played a ton of minutes. I was very pleased with Jaren Jackson, both when did step to the line he did what he did, he handled most of the defensive assignments pretty well. A couple times, like I said, he forgot, but considering it was his first game, I grade him very, very high on what he did and what he did for our team.

On trusting what Ben Carter sees when he plays…
I do (trust what he sees on the floor), but that’s going to be one of the problems that everybody’s going to have right now, wondering when who I’m going to play, when I’m going to play, because I don’t know either. Ben is, I mean he can only go so many minutes, Gavin (Schilling) actually played pretty good considering the minutes, that was a lot for (Schilling) tonight, 16 (minutes). Ben is going to work his way in, and Kenny Goins’ been playing pretty good, but he struggled to find the classroom a couple of days and is a very good student. . If you want to ask him why he didn’t play the first half, I’m giving you the answer so you know the answer before you ask him. But, we got some people there, Xavier [Tillman] came in there and did a very good job, and then lost a little focus. I know when you’re up big, you’re going to lose some focus, but I also know that if you’re trying to make a team or you’re trying to get better or you’re trying to improve or you know, you should be able to focus in if you’re not tired and we weren’t tired, so that was important but disappointing. And yet Ben Carter is, you’re right, he’s a guy that understands the game. He can play in the middle of the zone and he can do some things. He’s struggling to move his feet a little bit and his confidence yet, but it’s going to take a couple of weeks for him and Gavin and for us to learn how to play. I would say that is one of the reasons for the turnovers, we had different people in different spots sometimes trying to play those guys, but, like McQuaid, at least when he turned it over he really played well on the other end, but some of those passes were…strange.

On Miles Bridges’ performance…
Yeah, he missed a couple too and missed a couple of rebounds he had in his hands and knocked out. You know he would’ve had a monster night. But it’s pretty cool when a guy can defer a little bit and try to get other people in for all of them. I like how Miles played tonight. I wish he would’ve gone up two hands on a couple of those, and we had a couple of guys that went up one hand. We got a little sloppy, and so that made me not happy. But Miles, what I like about Miles is that he can take it. He can take what you give him, and that’s why he’s going to be a great player.

On pulling away in the first half and positives to take away from the defense…
Yeah I was going to say they were on 13 which seemed like, I don’t know what the minutes were, but a very long time you know. But our defense was pretty good. I thought we had hands up and we moved our feet pretty good. It’s a hard team to cover. They got four guys that can shoot, sometimes five, so it was good experience for us. You just keep going with these different kinds of teams. It seems like nobody is the same. Everybody is a lot different, and you get a team that can shoot. DJ (Dwayne Stephens) came in the locker room before the game and said, the shot the daylights out of the ball in the first part of the warm ups. You know that is a very positive thing because we weren’t even shooting great, but we were scoring off our defense and we weren’t letting them score. That’s good, because I’m telling you, that team is going to win a lot of games in that league I think. I’m a big fan of theirs.

On Duke and if they’ve talked a lot about the matchup…
You know I really haven’t. I mean every year I went  through my press book and I looked at who we’ve played and who we’ve gotten beat by or who we’ve beaten over the years. Every preseason is the same.  Everybody knows that were 1 and I think 100, or maybe it’s 98 against them, and everybody knows that. At least I do. Every single day I do. But, some of it’s because they played better than us, some of it is because they were better than us, and you know they’re going to be good every year. I was watching tv today and saw how Miles is the ninth-best freshman coming in. They got four or five ahead of him on that team and they got some from last year. And then Grayson Allen who was the guy that turned our Final Four game around when he came in as a freshman. So, very talented team. Extremely big team. It’ll be another different team, not your prototypical Duke team that a lot of time started four guards. These guys, one of the exhibition games started four giants, and sometimes three. We will start going to work on it. It’s a big game, I’m sure players are excited about it and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But I think it’s hard to use these games because we have them. We have Notre Dame, we’ve got UConn, Oregon, North Carolina. Our preseason schedule is really good and when you throw in a team like Oakland who could be as good as a lot of them. There’s a lot of waves. We’re more worried about how we play and what we do. It’s not just another game. I don’t think it’s just another game for them either, it’s one of the greatest nights of college basketball with those four teams playing. I’m damn proud that we’re one of the four that have done this year after year after year and made it one of the greatest nights of college basketball. We’ve held our own in it and we’ve been pretty good. We have a major step and a major hurdle to climb here and we’re going to try to do that.
 
On Josh Langford…
Josh Langford’s a very, very good player. He struggled last year because he was in very poor condition in injuries and never ran the lane last year. When I say never, I’ll reiterate, he never ran the lane last year. We were laughing on the sidelines for a minute, I think there was only one minute left in the second half, but it was with Josh and it was like, ‘Oh, scoring some points now aren’t you?’ He said, ‘Yeah, Coach. I think it’s a good thing,’ and I said, ‘Yeah me too.’ He does look a little more aggressive. Trust me, we’re going to come out of this little shooting thing because we’ve been shooting well all spring, summer and fall. If he does that, along with taking it to the basket like he is, his defense did improve. He got a little sloppy on some of those passes. I think last year, him and Miles, I could have counted on my hands until about probably the Big Ten season, the number of times they went to the line. Miles got there twice tonight, but he had nine in one preseason game and 10 in one and eight in one. We’re doing a little better job of that. 32 free throws. I don’t know what it was, but I think after five or six games last year we were up to 11 free throws a game. If that. Those are all positives. There were a lot of positives. The negatives, the only things that was negative to me are things that… like I told Cassius (Winston) before. I told Nick (Ward) before the game. I told Miles. You have to do things that give you a report card on how hard you worked on things that you weren’t as good at last year. I thought Cassius showed up a lot better defensively than he did. I thought he passed up some shots. We didn’t do a good job of attacking sometimes. He was way out when he started looking in the second half. In the second half he started shooting those three’s. Right now his shot ball is as good as anybody’s. Nick can’t have five turnovers and two rebounds. There’s some things there and that has to improve a lot. I’ll just leave it at that.
 
You know what’s kind of cool? The big thing about this game now is the committee stuff is on in between games so maybe football finally needs basketball to get enough attention so they can get the rankings out there. You know, it’s the problem with basketball there. Right now I think we’re in a difficult time as far as we’re getting better in a week, two weeks, three weeks; when you’re looking now, the month of December is not an easy month for basketball because of all the bowl games and because of the football conference championships. Would I like a couple more games under my belt before I play that game? Yeah. But I don’t know…we’ve played in it six times and our record is 3-3, hasn’t been all bad. So we’ve got six times we’ve played in it and it’s been about the same time every year. I think it is…when you can look at the second game of the year for most of us – I think Duke plays one other game and I don’t know if anyone else does – the second game of the year let’s say for most of these four teams. It could be on the biggest stage and it’s being talked about as the biggest night of basketball until the Final Four. I think that’s pretty good. I think there’s got to be something good to it. I’m cool with it. Whatever it is, whenever it is, wherever it is. That’s been our motto anyway.

On the green suit jacket and opening the game in a zone defense and if that was a tribute to Jud Heathcote…
Yeah, especially when they hit that three I swore at Jud under my breath and I told him what I thought of it. You might (see the zone again this year), you might. We didn’t play it much later on, a lot of reasons why. The green jacket is a tribute to him and I’m going to retire it until maybe his tribute game. It was kind of an emotional night for me in a lot of ways and I told him I was going to do that this year two weeks before he died so I stuck to it for one play and the jacket – I don’t know, you know, I just wore it. But it was a tribute to him. 

North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll


Opening statement...
That was our second time playing Michigan State, and when you have an inexperienced, untested team like we have, that early barrage that we came out with makes those guys think that it becomes a little bit easier when in reality, it’s never easy. I think the best thing about Michigan State, what you should be most proud of, is if you go back and look at 2:45 in the first half against Miami, and you run the clock from 2:45-1:59, that completely demonstrates how powerful and how good this team is and why they have a chance to win the National Championship. They miss a three, they all rebound, they get the rebound, kick it out, Winston makes a three. Then they come down, and make Miami take a 27-foot horrible, terrible shot, get the rebound, one dribble, three passes - Ward gets a layup. That is who they are. They’re as fast as any team in America from baseline to baseline. They have as much length as any team I’ve seen - when I was at Baylor in the Big 12, and when I was at Clemson in the ACC. They are long at all positions, and Jackson is such a puppy. He’s going to learn so much, and the great thing is he doesn’t have to worry about being the star or the man or the go to, because he has all those other guys around him. It’s going to make him faster because he’s not going to have to worry about having to make plays. I think you all play Kansas on Tuesday, right? Duke? Duke, Kansas, same thing. They’re the two longest and tallest teams in America, maybe Duke and Michigan State. You guys have a chance. We played them last time, they were fifth, when we played you with Adreian Payne and that group. This group to me, one thing I noticed about Miles Bridges which is really interesting, is how well he coached the guys on the floor. I think that’s a credit to coach and him. For a guy that has so much accolades and credit put upon him that he continues to help the other guys get better in the right way. It takes a special person, and I know spiritually where he is. I can see why he is that way because of where his heart is spiritually, so it’s going to be a fun season for you. I’d start booking your tickets. The only thing is injury, and you obviously have to be careful about injuries and how they effect you. You all are pretty deep too. Schilling was boarder-line a starter until he got hurt. Tum Tum (Lourawls Nairn Jr.), he was a starter when he came in this mix. And they’ve got some really good depth in them too, which makes them even that much more dangerous.
 

On MSU's 3-point defense...
I think the one thing is that when you play a team like us and you have open looks and when we shared the ball and moved it from side to side, we got whatever we wanted. When you have that many guys that can stretch the floor, it makes it that much easier. With them, they’re so man to man, they’re so dominant, that when you have guys stopping the ball that guy gets an edge that when they run to break down, so that’s what we try to get into those kind of scenarios, which isn’t easy. The other thing is foul trouble for you doesn’t become as difficult as it is for us. For you guys, you can expend a little more and get out to the three a little bit more because you can get out to the rotations inside if they do get in foul trouble. When you look at this team, you say what would be their weakness? When you watch them on film, which I did a lot, and when you know what they do, their weakness to me can only be themselves. The kryptonite within themselves to be selfish. To get to a point when they are selfless, and that to me would be the only thing this team could do to implode because they’re too talented in all facets. They do the two fundamental things to be the greatest. They keep the ball in front of them, and they rebound the ball. They push it down the throat as fast as they can, so God bless you when you play them, Duke.


On hanging if he's happy to have 'hung' with MSU tonight...
No, I’m not a moral victory guy, but it was a great question. With this group that is inexperienced and untested, we just need to continue to help them grow through the fundamental areas that we’ve always been great at. These guys have been thrusted into some situations that they’ve never been in before because they never stepped foot on the floor. There’s only two guys that started the game that ever played a Division I basketball game before, so what we can say is that they shared the sugar when we moved it from side to side. Defensively, we were in our principles, we were very good. That I did share with them, but that many shots that early… I believe this, early shots mean nothing unless you defend the rebound. I think we were down 16-14. Even though we were scoring, so were they.  

On what North Florida did to challenge MSU...
We tried to be aggressive on the ball, and we thought that if we can make them take two extra dribbles, then we can get our extra guys a chance to get back. When they do pitch at least we’ll be set. Instead of letting that guy be naked, and get it and go. You’re so good at one-dribble pitch, so we try to make them take two if not three dribbles. Then we felt like we were in good position to be back. Hope we aren’t giving secrets away to Coach K.

Freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
 
On what it means to him to be the third freshman to record a double-double in the season opener...
It means a lot  that I was able to do that. We still won the game I was happy to get the win even though we didn’t score 100 points, which would have been fun.  Now onto Duke.
 
On finally being able to count the win in the stat sheet…
It was great obviously in exhibition games, we knew in the back of our heads it didn’t physically count, but we still played like that. I try to replicate what we did in the exhibition games.
 
On getting to the free–throw line…
You have to be aggressive; most of my free throws came when I was hustling off the ball, when they would hit or bumped me, staying aware and blocking my opponent.
 
On being a force inside on defense...
That is my MO. I try to protect the rim at all cost, if someone gets by my teammates especially the guards I come over and help them. I always try to say in front of my defender and block the ball while staying at of foul trouble.
 
On playing Duke on Tuesday…
It’s just another game. It’s obviously hyped up because of the rankings; we’re going to get back to practice work hard and replicate exactly what we do in practice.
 
Sophomore guard Cassius Winston
 
On what was going right tonight and improving from last game...
Everything was going right for the most part on defense we locked in, we got good shot attempts,  and the ball was moving. Everyone was getting a touch we need to take care of the ball for sure. We got out on the break and had a lot points in transition  which was a positive.
 
On where he needs to improve heading into next week...
Limiting turnovers and remaining focused. We had a strong first half. In the second half, we didn’t come out with that same energy and focus. If we can limit the turnovers and remain focused, I’m looking at a pretty good team.

Sophomore guard Miles Bridges
 
On getting his teammates involved early on…
Mainly, I don’t want to force things I want to get going. At the need of the day, we have great team with so many weapons. We have shooters and big men that can score.
 
On facing Duke  early in the season...
I want to dive right in we have been practicing all fall and summer. We want to show everyone what we’re capable of. Duke’s is a great team, and it’s going to be a great game.
 
On having a lot of players score tonight..
Our offense is flowing we’re finding the open man , we have to cut down on turnovers, and continue to make great shots.
 
 


 

 

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