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Michigan State vs. Stony Brook Post Game Quotes

Nov. 19, 2017

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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening Statement…
Well, there was some good and some bad. When teams start out hitting six of its first eight 3s, and most of them were their big guys, and like I said, we don’t guard very well with certain people. We proved this point tonight. I thought we were two different teams. We had offensive players on one end and we had defensive players at a different point and we have to get more guys that can do both.

Everybody wants to know about Miles (Bridges). It’s a sprain. Thank God it’s not a high ankle sprain. It’s just a sprain where he rolled it. It’ll be day-to-day, but it’s not a high ankle, which is encouraging. I thought the two guys that might have played the best tonight were definitely Xavier Tillman. He showed a lot. The whole adage, tough people - he’s a tough kid. He did his job. He guarded who he was supposed to guard, rolled to the basket. He played on the scout team all week so he really learned while doing it, which is sometimes better. He made his free throws, gets five rebounds. I’m really, really, really pleased with him. But Josh Langford was the best player on the court as far as the guy that did things on both ends. Miles was actually playing pretty good defense, too, until he got hurt. We got a lot out of Tum (Nairn Jr.), he got us going. Of course, Cassius (Winston) hit some shots, but it was early. When we gave up those kinds of 3s so early in the game, it’s almost inexcusable.

And maybe the biggest thing that happened in my mind was, it was a team like Middle Tennessee. Two years ago we lost Kenny Goins and had to play DD (Deyonta Davis) at the four and they killed us in that game. Of course with Goins out, we thought Jaren (Jackson Jr.) would be a great matchup and he just showed his rookie-ness a little bit. Not realizing when you have two fouls, we put him back and told him no matter what, don’t do this, don’t do that. It’s hard for a freshman, and he did. The last one just happened. He didn’t even really play. He was in the game 14 minutes, but eight of those minutes he was playing not to foul and not to play.

All in all, I know it sounds stupid to an 0-4 team, but I watched them all but beat UCONN and give Maryland a good game. It’s not like it’s a bad team. It’s a team that gives us trouble because we have a couple of bigs that can’t guard right now and that has to change. But, we won’t run into many teams that have a four and a five that are their best three point shooters, either.
 
On Josh Langford being more aggressive…
I was really pleased with Josh. Miles tried the happy medium, he took some things in there, too. He got some boards. Josh got two offensive boards early. Josh defended better. That’s the Josh Langford I think there is. Some of it is him and some of it is us. We have to do a better job. I was really happy for him because he let the game come to him. He didn’t force things. He let it come to him. He looked so comfortable today. I thought it was the first day that he looked really comfortable on both ends of the court.
 
On Jeff Boals as a head coach…
Honestly, when I watched his games against UCONN and Maryland, I thought he did a hell of a job. I do know Jeff well. I think he has a nice team. I don’t know what his league is like. He runs some great stuff. They’re pretty good defensively. We shot the ball really well. At times I think we wore them down a little bit inside. We had a lot of subs and even though some of them didn’t play well. Those guys, they don’t have as much depth in there so they have to play a little like Jaren did. I think that he’s going to be a hell of a head coach. His team played hard, his team ran their stuff pretty well. I thought they were pretty solid defensively and he’s playing a brutal schedule. Three of the four teams, then they go and kind of lose a game that I think that they could have should have won. He has a chance to get that thing going out there like Steve (Pikiell) did. It’s a great, whatever level program. I don’t want to insult it, I just want to say that it’s probably below the BCS level, but I think that he could have a very good team in that conference.
 
On the tradeoff with Nick Ward scoring well versus not playing good defense…
 
I saw a great commercial today. It would be great for Rico. No insult intended. It was a thing about the Saints. They showed a big block of cheese. If you eat too much cheese, you’re going to get caught by the traps. And the cheese is you guys - fans, media - they all think that 20 points is great. It’s not. Last year we scored a lot of points and we won 20 games. Around here that’s not good enough. There were some assignments that he missed that I’m upset about and I’m going to be, because he did a hell of a job yesterday and a hell of a job in the locker room, which means he has to learn how to focus in on the game. If he plays any kind of defense and scores 20 and gets 10 rebounds, we got ourselves a hell of a player. If not, then we got ourselves a good player who can do the job, but you can’t hide a big guy. You can’t hide him down there if there’s a decent guy that’s playing against him. I’m a little concerned that he thinks… Well, you know when you look at the stats you say, ‘Wow.’ When I look at the game film I say, ‘Oh no.’ We have a couple of guys that are in that boat that have to change. I thought Cassius was better the second half. When there’s two in there, sometimes it’s difficult.

On working on making sure bad habits don’t become regular…
Well we’re trying to change bad habits. We’re already past the bad habits, we already know there’s bad habits. We’re trying to get those habits, better habits. That’s what we tried to do tonight and then we put them back the second half, we went over at halftime, a couple of switches in the top and we just didn’t do it the second half. The focus thing is the biggest thing. Focus is usually caused by distractions. Distractions are usually caused by not being able to sustain anything and Twitter, and those two things screw things up. I was so pleased with Nick (Ward) last night and this morning in his focus and then we get in front of people and it changed. I mean, we made mental mistakes that we shouldn’t have made.
 
On if Miles Bridges’ ankle sprain is day-to-day…
Yeah, I mean they say 24 to 48 hours is usually when you know more on a sprained ankle. Swelled up a little bit but then it didn’t swell up much more. When I saw him after, they just kept him in so they could put ice on it right away. I’d say by Tuesday morning I’ll know a little bit more, maybe tomorrow. Miles is tough enough to play through it, but we’re not going to take any chances either. We’re going to have to see where it’s at.
 
On the pull up 3 dimension that Cassius Winston has…
I told you for three weeks, the best shooter on my team right now, the best pure shooter, is Cassius Winston. That’s why I’d like to see him even pull up more; pull up at the free throw line, pull up instead of taking it way in there and getting caught. Cassius is very, very, very good offensively. He knows it, he knows what he did the first half. What I liked is a couple times he vowed, ‘Put me back in, I’m not doing that again.’ That’s good. That’s a good change. I think he’ll come around and I’m being honest with you, we play him and Tum (Nairn Jr.) together a little more too, because that gets him at the two a little bit so he can do some things and score some points. A little easier than it is at the point sometimes. So yeah, best shooter we got right now.
 
On Xavier Tillman being energized today…
He’s a unique kid. He’s another kid we talked about redshirting but we weren’t sure what we could get out. In fairness, I’ve tried to tell you that the Gavin (Schilling), I think I’ve started to kind of become a fan with thinking they could do more than they can do, yet. I mean, Ben (Carter) is not in the shape he needs to be in. We’re a little step to go there in how much we play him. There’s no question that Gavin isn’t the same right now either. What X does is he’s just… He’s just a kind of an old school guy, man. He just wants to set screens, hit bodies. Then our guys don’t even know Al Anagonye, but Al was up this summer and he started talking about all the stories of all the people he maimed during a season and so now they’re calling X, Al, because he has the same mentality in him. I’m hoping that helps us because right now we need some help. Like I said, Jaren (Jackson Jr.) didn’t play in this game. He played 12 minutes or something but other than the first five, he was out of it with the foul trouble he was in. That’s another reason. That’s a tough team to play if your bigs aren’t playing well and they’re shooting it like they did.
 
On the sophomore class scoring 74 of the 93 points…
Well Cassius (Winston), Nick (Ward), and Miles (Bridges) isn’t quite where he needs to be but he’s making progress and Josh (Langford) is, we’re not going to say one game and we’re going to feel good about it but are they making progress? Yeah. I like that Josh has made some progress defensively and we got to get some other guys making that same progress. I mean, we held another team… I mean, it should’ve been 39, they hit that last shot and made it 40 percent, but we’re holding teams under 40, which is decent but it’s not great. We outrebounded them by what, 15, 16. That’s decent for us, it’s not great. Then again we didn’t have Miles (Bridges) in there for at least 10 more minutes, we didn’t have… Jaren (Jackson Jr.) gets four in really about the first six minutes then doesn’t get many after that. Considering what we played with I think we probably did a better job than I give us credit for. I just can’t figure out how we could go over and over and over what they’re going to do on these cross screens with two bigs, all we’re doing is switching them and we were in the fog a little bit on that. I guess we’re going to have to, I’m going to have to get on my assistants and myself because we’re going to have to do that more and more and more.

Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals


Opening statement…
It’s always great having a game in the Breslin Center. I always enjoy coming back here. You know, it’s one of the best environments in the Big Ten with the Izzone. Obviously I have a lot of respect for Coach Izzo and his staff for what he does and how he does it. We had a quick turnaround. We played Friday at Ball State then to tried to get everything in with the 100 sets that they run. Talk about their personnel coming into the game, we were really focused on us.

Most of you probably didn’t know, but we played Maryland pretty tough in the second half, outscored them, got beat. UConn, we were winning 35 minutes in that game, and end up getting beat. At Ball State we had a halftime lead, so all we were concerned about was us coming in and really competing for 40 minutes. I thought we did that, and I was really proud of our guys.

On running out of gas in the second half…
Yeah, we did. We are normally a pretty deep team, but we had eight keys going into the game. The first four were transition defense, and the last four were boxing out and rebounding. I talked to Will (Tieman) before the game on Spartan Radio Network, and it’s like Groundhog Day before you play Michigan State. Transition defense and rebounding, you can’t afford not to do that against a team like this. It’s a high-powered offense. I think we did get a little tired and gave up some easy baskets. We went from 9-11 points up to down 20, 24 points.

On comparing this Spartan team to other Spartan teams he’s seen…
I really like this team. You know, they’ve gotten better since game one. Watching the Ferris State, Georgia, to the Duke game, it’ll be an evolution like most Coach Izzo’s teams are. He’ll have them prepared and ready to play. The Jackson kid, this might be the only time in his career where he will not score a point. He’s an unbelievable talent, and obviously Miles Bridges playing the wing. His best team might be with him (Bridges) at the four, but that’s not for me to say or decide. I really like the talent. All those guys are a year older, more experienced, and it’ll be really fun to watch them.

On the positives from today’s game…
I think the biggest positive was coming out competing for 40 minutes. I was really happy with our guys. They followed the game plan. We did get a little fatigued in the second half, but we kept on fighting and kept chipping away. I think we led twelve and a half minutes in the first half, and our biggest thing was coming out and getting off to a good start. Against Ferris State, Michigan State was down 12-2. Against North Florida, they were own 8-3, so we wanted to get off to a good start to build some confidence. It was good to see us hit some shots, 3-pointers. We knew that we would have to hit some shots then, and I was just really happy with our guys with the way they competed for 40 minutes.

On improving upon today’s performance…
I think we got better today. I know we’re 0-4 right now, and it doesn’t look like it on the wins and losses. We’ve competed for spurts in every game we’ve played, but coming in here with this atmosphere against the No. 2 team in the country, I was really worried about us competing. We did that and I’m proud of our guys.

Michigan State sophomore guard Cassius Winston

On evaluating today’s game…
We changed a lot of things, we got to the board a little bit better, our break was definitely a lot better. We took some gains from the past game and transferred it over and learned from it, so that’s a good thing. A lot of things we still have to get better at to be that team we want to be, but for a little bit we took a step in the right direction.

On adjusting to Stony Brook’s 3 point shooting offense…
Just got to close out on them, make them put the ball on the floor, trust our help. They shot the ball pretty well tonight from the 3 especially. We knew they were going to be a team that got a lot of 3s out, knock down a lot of 3s, so we just had to get out there, close out, and trust our defense.

On after taking the lead in the first half…
I just had those moments in the game where you just let the offense come to you, pick your poison, pick your spots. Usually it came from us running our lanes hard, so the defense was shrunk down so I was able to get a couple easy baskets and things like that.

On preparing for the PK80 Tournament…
Just buckle down, we got to keep our focus on 100 percent at all times. I think that’s a little bit where we struggle with, just focusing in. When we focus, when everybody’s locked in, we’re a hell of a team. But once some players lose focus then we kind of just dwindle down a little bit. So if we keep that 100 percent focus at all times we can be a good team.

Michigan State sophomore guard Joshua Langford

On evaluating today’s game…
I think that overall we did a pretty good job, I think we had some mishaps on defense, some plays where we could’ve got up more, got our hands up, because we knew they were a great 3 point shooting team. They kind of live and die by the 3, but not really, so we did an okay job. We have to do a better job when we know our defensive scouting report and following it. But I think overall we did a pretty good job.

On his offensive performance and settling in to his role…
The game is just starting to slow down more. I think the biggest thing for me is I just want to go out there and just try to do the best I could for my teammates because with the game we had recently against Duke, you kind of just want to hurry up and get back on the court and just try to get some redemption. So that’s what I wanted to do, I just wanted to go out there and just play as hard as I can and do my job.

Michigan State freshman forward Xavier Tillman

On his personal performance…
I think I did a good job just doing my job, getting up on ball screens and finishing my layups and taking my time on my free throws, and just communicating on defense.

On if he’s feeling comfortable in his role…
Absolutely, absolutely. I started to tell myself - it was a couple minutes into the second half - I said, ‘you done being scared?’ I told myself that. I was like okay, yeah I’m ready. I’m back to playing basketball. It felt good.

On the key to the team playing well…
Everybody went back to doing their job. We kind of played out of character in the first half and nobody really did what we talked about in the locker room before the game. But then in the second half, Coach brought us back together and we all told each other that we wanted to win this game and we wanted to win big and we had to do our jobs in order to do that.

On the team playing unselfishly…
We just play team basketball. We love each other and we want everybody to shine. When there’s an open man we give it to him every time.



 

 

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