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Michigan State vs. Notre Dame Post Game Quotes

Nov. 30, 2017

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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement...

Very, very well-earned win on our part because we beat, I think, a great team. I thought our defense the first half was the best its been. Better than the North Carolina game as far as taking some things away. We did some things that we needed to do. Followed the scouting report. I thought Jaren (Jackson Jr.) was unbelievable early, and it really hurt us when he got in foul trouble, hurt us a lot. We played a very good 20 minutes and then halftime, we warned our guys about their comeback against Wichita State. You know, we're playing against three seniors and a junior, very veteran team. I love (Matt) Farrell and (Bonzie) Colson. Those guys are great players and like great players do, they bounce back. We made five turnovers in the first six, seven minutes after doing a hell of a job the first half, took a couple bad shots and they bounced right back in. So it's still a learning key. I think the youth showed on our part, the experience showed on their part in that stretch. And to our credit and our crowd's credit, they got us back in the game and it was great down the stretch. I thought Miles (Bridges) made some great passes tonight. He got Cassius (Winston) three big buckets in critical, critical times. We had a lot of guys that played decent. We had some guys that played real well but we got to keep Jaren Jackson in the game. I thought, man, there were... you get some tough calls but that was the big difference in the game. I thought his length and his athletic ability and the fact that the second half, we just weren't quite as sharp to start was the difference. Questions?
 
On the tone the team was trying to set with an aggressive offense...
I think that's what we were trying to do, exactly right. We were trying to be aggressive. We were trying to get our defense going. We wanted to move the ball well and run. I thought we were running well. We had mismatches. Poor Josh (Langford) was a little shaky with the ball and yet he was very good with his scoring. I thought (Cassius Winston) pushed it pretty well, Tum (Nairn) pushed it pretty well. When you look at, you know, (Winston) getting seven, Miles (Bridges) getting four, Tum getting five and Matt (McQuaid) getting four assists, that means there are a lot of guys and the ball is moving and that's what we said we were so poor at for the first couple games. We rebounded well, we defended well, we didn't turn it over much other than a five-minute stretch. I just thought the ball was moving better. We got a little tired. I mean, I'm a little concerned about our group right now. You know, Miles hasn't practiced much, not in great shape. Kenny (Goins) hasn't. McQuaid hasn't because of his injury. So what do we do? We still got two more games in this thirteen days and six games. That is probably my biggest concern right now.
 
On the stretch when Jaren Jackson picked up his first foul versus when he got his fourth foul in terms of defending...
That's a good question. Other guys weren't doing the job too. We weren't getting over the ball screens. They were dragging us out a little bit. They had some rolls. They shot 50 percent the second half because they got a lot of lay-ups and wide open shots. It was... We did such a good job on those ball screens. I just didn't think our guards let down a little bit. Jaren got into foul trouble and we weren't good there for a while. A little bit Xavier (Tillman), a little bit... I thought Gavin (Schilling) did a good job. I think the other guy that I'm feeling better about in some ways, but we probably played Ben (Carter) a little bit too much because he just, his legs aren't there yet to tell... You know, his heads telling his legs to go and his legs are telling his head where to go. It's been a little bit of an issue. I got to do a better job of subbing and with Jaren in foul trouble that eliminated that.
 
On his thoughts when seeing the statistics...
Well, I was thinking first of all, I was thinking about our rebounding. You know, to out-rebound them, double them up. Our offensive rebounding, they get 15, that was the first stat I looked at. The second one were the turnovers; I knew we had more the second half. Disappointing to have 13 but under the circumstances we had like three real early with Josh (Langford) and then we had five real early in the second-half and other than that we probably played 30 something minutes of very good basketball. I can't say again, I know they didn't look like it tonight but they didn't play as well as they've been playing and I think you can see stretches where they're... They're going to be really good. I love this team. It's very tough matchups to guard them all. I thought they missed some shots early. Some was us, some was them. But I love Mike (Brey)'s team. I think, you know, he switched defense's, he did a lot of things that I think are going to affect some teams this year.
 
On if he remembers a better first ten minutes...
I didn't know that stat so the answer would be no. I can't remember a better stretch. Maybe, as I told my team after, I think it was in 2000 we played UConn here and we're up 50 something to 17 at halftime. That was a better stretch, I guess. But against a quality team that, you know, is very solid. Those seniors make that team very, very solid and I just thought the way we played, give us some credit and yet I don't think they were at their sharpest. A little bit of both ways. I think we both agreed, we both got good teams, they're going to win a lot of games. I mean, that was a good win for us. Our crowd really helped us when we kind of struggled a little bit, which is what the home court's supposed to do and you know, kind of went to Miles (Bridges) on a couple of isolations that helped us. He got a bucket, he got two big assists so that was something different we haven't been doing. But we got to have Jaren Jackson in the game. He's just too valuable of a player and he helps all those other guys when he's in. Yeah, it was a great 10 minutes. I was kind of hoping that the game ended then, to be honest with you.
 
On what it's like to have a player like Cassius (Winston) at the point guard position...
I think right now, you know, we got like four different guys we can go to. We can go to Nick (Ward) inside, he made a couple big plays. We can go to Miles anytime and as he gets in better shape now and back on track. I think Josh Langford is a guy we can go to when we need a bucket right now and of course, Cassius. You know, I don't know... Sometimes I think I play him too many minutes too. It wasn't bad, 26, but a couple stretches and a little sloppy at some things there; Turning that ball over for a layup and that, a little casual. But there's getting to be less of those moments, you know. I think what he deserves a lot of credit for, and this is what I told him before the game started, I said, you know, the big matchups of course it's going to be on (Bonzie) Colson and (Matt) Ferrell. Cassius, you spent the whole summer here, he didn't go home when everyone else went home. You lifted, you ran, you worked. You did it all for this so now you got... We were thinking of putting someone else on him, but we said no. We're going to put Cassius on him and god bless him, he did a damn good job, considering.
 
On the Jaren Jackson-Colson matchup and Jackson staying in the game...
We can't get foolish ones, you know. One reaching and one was foolish. The charge was... you know, that was just ridiculous. I mean, he had just pulled up, he hit a nice jumper in the middle of the lane. It's just going to be part of the learning curve. I mean you think about it, I asked him to guard an All-American in his sixth, seventh college game, and one that can move. I thought Jaren was, he really got us going, if you want the truth. His defense, the way he guarded him, the blocked shots, the way he ran, he did a good job in the middle of the zone. Sounds crazy for a guy that played 12 or so minutes but he was almost one of the stars of the game, just in the way he got us going. And then I thought Colson got a little, where he wasn't as active there for a while in the second-half and you know, those two guys showed what their true colors are.

On how the team reacted to being up by only seven or eight...

You know, we were disappointed in the fact that we weren't guarding. It wasn't our offense. We took a couple of bad shots, but we just weren't guarding the same. I'm expecting the world, as I always do defensively. This team has been way ahead of where I thought we'd be defensively, but we have to realize that we still... You win big games, you win championships. We've said it since the day that I got to this place, because of your defense and your rebounding. At the end of the day, even though they shot 44 percent, I thought our defense and rebounding won us the game. We said we have to lock down a little better, we have to get better weak-side help and then we started, we isolated Miles (Bridges) a couple of times. We tried to get it down to Nick (Ward) a couple of times. We did a little better job of that.

On being more level than last year or earlier this year...
Oh, definitely better than last season. I'm still waiting - and I told Miles this - I'm waiting for somebody to get mad in the huddle and say, `We have to do this, we have to do that.' We still need a little more out of a couple of guys if you ask me. Don't underestimate how good Notre Dame is, please. I shouldn't even complain about one thing, we beat a damn good team in not an easy situation for us coming back after those three games and that long trip. We got going right away. They had a little break. I was worried about that. I thought their seniors would rise up, which they did the second half. I thought our crowd and our young guys did a hell of a job, in that first half stretch.

On giving the team enough credit...
I think defensively, we are. I think we are doing a better job defensively and we're causing some problems. I think offensively we're still not executing like I think we need to, could or should. We have a little more balance, inside, outside, balance. The hardest part of this year has been when they changed and put these Big Ten games in and it really changed our schedule. We didn't get many breaks where usually you can play a game and then work on yourself. We just didn't have much of that this year. That's the only thing that's hurt this team a little bit. We're still young, we're still trying to find ourselves offensively. Yeah, I'll give us some credit defensively, but I'll give us some blame on some of the foolish turnovers and some of the offensive execution that was better tonight, but hasn't been as good in the past.

On beating North Carolina and Notre Dame without Miles being the best player on the floor...
He wasn't our best player in some ways, but you have to remember that teams kind of lean to Miles. Other guys get open because he has the ball in the wing and he can do some things. What Miles gives us and will give us, you don't always see just in his stats. Like I said, he threw two of the nicest, simplest passes to Cassius (Winston) tonight that were game changers. That was two three-pointers, six points. I don't think Miles could have done that last year. I think he's just better with the ball. His ankle's 90 percent, but now his conditioning has to get there and he needs the practice time. I'm excited because I think that Miles is going to start taking some steps forward and Jaren (Jackson Jr.) If we can get those two guys moving, and the rest of those guys keep playing at the level they've been playing at, then we become a great team.


On playing against Mike Brey...
I love Mike. I got to know him when I was a GA here, he was an assistant coach at DeMatha. I recruited Carlton Valentine who's Denzel's dad and Mike was the lead guy. He was to go through Mike because Morgan Wootten had his own thing he was doing. So, I got to know Mike real early at a couple of tournaments and I followed him at Duke. I think he's done a phenomenal job there. He's at a place where football's so big, but he's made basketball important. His teams are, I guess the best words are, disciplined and efficient. Every year they're one of the most efficient offensive teams. If I'm looking at them, they're a better defensive team this year, then some I've seen in my humble opinion. Our running game hurt that a little bit early. They moved some things around and did a hell of a job. But, Mike Brey, Notre Dame, his team, I think they'll be playing a long time come March and April. I really do.

On transition performance and Cassius Winston's impact on it...
I think Winston does a great job, I think both of our point guards do. What I didn't do tonight was put them together a little bit, which I think really helps, because Cassius can run that lane and he can score so well. What really helps is when you defend and rebound well and people aren't getting offensive rebounds. They had five offensive rebounds. You can really push it. I thought that was the difference, when you defend, you rebound and you run. That's been a staple of our program since the day I got here. If it ain't broke why fix it? I do think that's one of our strengths just like I think one of their strengths is their efficiency. They run their stuff and they're very good on ball screens, that was a difficult cover for us.

On the schedule being so different this year...
It's scary where we're going as we're going into twenty games. Conference games and non-conference and balancing it out. The tournaments are great, but they're always in places where you travel and play three games in four days or three games in three days. The negative about that is that you get no practice time. Everybody wants to get better in November. You're not getting better in January, you're getting better in November. If there's something you don't do and you play a good team and they kick your butt so you go to practice like Duke did. They killed us and since that game, we've rebounded a little bit better. I don't trust the lawyers anymore, we didn't even put on pads. We just emphasized it a little bit more. That's what you try to do, but we have not had a lot of time and nobody does, if you're playing in those things. There was a guy named Jim Boylan who played for Marquette with Al McGuire. He was our GA and our restricted earnings guy. He's with the Cleveland Cavaliers now. He always used to say in our meetings, `Al McGuire used to say that the most important thing in basketball is scheduling.' It was over recruiting and it was over game preparation. It was scheduling. He said he had a three-year schedule. I have to call Jimmy and figure out how I do a better job. Not necessarily who we play, but when we play them and how we get more time and things like that. It's been a little difficult. It's hard on the players. We got in at six o'clock the other morning. That means Monday's bad, but Tuesday isn't so great either. It usually gets you the second day and that's tough.

On Big Ten play so early...
My thoughts? Why? That's my thoughts. Why are we doing this? I understand why. It's kind of a one-year thing. It wouldn't be bad if we had done this two years out so that we could have made the rest of our schedule. That's the only thing that I'm a little upset about. I understand why they do it and they have to do what they have to do. Nebraska comes in here. They had a big win the other night. He's a good coach, he's beaten us here I think more than once, at least once. Nothing's going to come easy for us right now. I'm trying to survive until Tuesday. Then we get a little break. Hopefully a little practice time. A little time off. A little time to heal. But this stretch... Last year's was off the charts and Miles recovered. It's been unbelievable so that's going to be as big of a concern for our team and our health and our well-being, just as much as the team's we're playing.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey

Opening statement...

Well, you know, my worst fear was them getting off to great starts because when they do that in this building it's a heck of an uphill climb, and they really got off to a great start. As much as you try and practice transition and defense, you can't simulate how they get down the floor. I loved our fight in the second half. What did we get it to, seven? I'd like to go back and look at the tape tomorrow with them because we probably made some mistakes when we had it to seven, but they're really good. They're a heck of a team. They're as good as anybody in the country. We probably learned a little bit about our group, but hats off to them because they were really ready to play and any time we made little runs that second half, somebody made a big shot again.

On getting his team into a rhythm early...
Yeah, I don't know. It's something we've got to think about. You know, our offensive rhythm I think I would give credit to poor offensive rhythm (against) two great defensive teams we've played in a row. You know, Wichita State and certainly these guys, but it's grueling when you have to dig out of a hole and hopefully we can be better in first halves so we're not digging out of a hole.

On what his team can do better on the backboards...
Not play Michigan State. We don't play them again, do we? It's the best rebounding team in the country, so we're okay. We're good.

On what the key at halftime was...
We talked about it, of having the field at the Wichita State game so I really give our guys credit. We defended and executed to start the second half. We took a couple charges and you're feeling (like) you got a shot at this thing. The difference was they made a big shot every time we threatened. Wichita State didn't, and it's the first time I've been in this atmosphere. What an unbelievable home basketball atmosphere. You know, I've watched it on TV and they always do a great job. So a lot more fight, a lot more grout, and you know some things we got to work on and be better at. It'd be good to play at home because we haven't been at home for a while. So we're going to play at home Sunday and Tuesday. I hope our fans come out.

On Bonzie Colson's match-up with Jaren Jackson Jr....
Well you know Jackson's length really bothered Bonzie early and he's even bigger than I remembered. We recruited him. He's really long and that length really bothered him. I give Bonzie credit that he kind of figured it out a little bit in the second half. Obviously it helped that Jackson was in foul trouble and he let the game come to him. He didn't freak out because two shots were blocked early, but that length is bothersome and we have to keep helping him with that cause we're going to see a lot of length in our league. He practices against the guy on our team, Juwan Durham, who's long so he gets that look, but their length and power in the paint was really hard to deal with.

On what he's learned about his team...
I've got a tough group. I mean, they're really poised. There was no panic at halftime and they talked about making a run. There weren't a whole lot of things I needed to say. Colson and Farrell set the tone and I love how they prepare and how they talk, and we made the run. We just couldn't get over the hump. When they come at you with fresh bodies, they just keep coming at you with fresh bodies and that really takes its toll and it did on us.

On playing Michigan State every season...
Not happening, it's not happening. We've got two Big Ten games that are always spoken for. The ACC/Big Ten (Challenge), and maybe we'll see them again in that and we also play in the Crossroads. I don't need to play a third Big Ten home-and-home. I'd like to maybe get back. We're going to play UCLA next year and again, it's a great match-up and an easy ride, but I just don't want to play too many Big Ten games. The other thing that is going to be interesting in non-league scheduling is both us and the Big Ten are going to 20 league games. So what's your philosophy with your non-league? I think you have to be smart and not over-schedule in your non-league (games) because we're both going to play 20. I'd be fine meeting them every five years in the ACC/Big Ten (Challenge), but they're a great program and they're a great measuring stick for where your program is.

On what he needs Harvey to follow up on...
You know, that was a really intense atmosphere for D.J. Harvey. First time in that atmosphere and I thought he was a little wide-eyed, which I can't be surprised that I saw that. I thought he was really good in Maui and he was really good in the Wichita State game which was a big atmosphere, but this was a different level. We've just got to keep helping him and coaching him and getting him out there on the floor. Some guys didn't play as well as they wanted but you got to give, Michigan State really defends and they've got fresh guys on you. For us, I talked to our guys. You know, our schedule is so hard. We knew we were going to take punches throughout this season. It's all about how you bounce back, and we get to practice that now and we're going to be in this situation again so I don't want to over-analyze, over you know we're going to start the same guys on Sunday and let's get up and down on our own court.

On if he expected Matt Farrell, T.J. Gibbs, Bonzie Colson and Rex Pflueger to play over 36 minutes...
You know, when you're digging out of a hole and it's fragile that it may go to 30 and you have no shot, it's kind of hard to get them off the floor again. I thought D.J. Harvey was a little bit overwhelmed, and even our young big guys were maybe a little. That's why I went to (Austin) Torres with the second half because he's a veteran. I would've liked to keep those minutes off but it's hard, and you know what, in big games our main guys, four of those starters are going to play 30 some minutes. That's kind of how we've run the program and tonight it was a little overwhelming because their fresh bodies wore us out.

On the challenges MSU presented when preparing for the game...
The first thing you start with is `Can you stop their transition?' and as much as we talked about it and tried to practice it, you couldn't simulate how fast they were coming down on us and that had us on our heels, and they can affect us offensively, too, but they have a lot of different guys that can score the ball. We try to help on the first possession a little bit on (Miles) Bridges, (Cassius) Winston hits a big one, (Joshua) Langford hit big ones all night, (Jaren) Jackson rattled in a 3 at a time where we thought maybe we're coming back and he rattles that one in, so they've got a lot of different options. When you put down that they can go and they can get 15, 18 offensive rebounds, that puts a lot of pressure on your defense. They're as good as anybody in the country and I'm glad they're not in our league. I'm glad we don't see them again.

On Jackson, a freshman, vs. Colson, a veteran...
It may be. That may be the toughest guy to deal with for Bonzie Colson. Obviously, Duke has size but I don't know if they have active length that can move their feet like Jackson does. That was a whole different level, I think he was a little shocked that he couldn't get a shot off there. Again, we're not going to see that much the rest of the way. I give him credit that he figured out how to get inside on some other guys and get scoring for us, but that was really hard early. We couldn't get Farrell and Colson going early, and those are our guys. If they don't get it going early, the rest of our group gets a little worried and concerned and again, I give credit to Michigan State at taking away our two main weapons for really the first 15 minutes of the game.

Michigan State sophomore guard Cassius Winston

On his performance vs Notre Dame...

I think I did pretty good in some stretches, I had a little stretch there where I didn't have enough energy, enough intensity, but for the most part I had a pretty good game.

On how the team has played since Chicago...
I think we just locked in, we're more focused as a team, we don't want to let a game slip away again, not on our watch. Another team is going to have to come in here and have to beat us, and we come in with that mentality every game.

On being a part of an offense with as many options to score as they do...
It's great, any given night somebody is going to blow up for a bigger game, and this team's unselfish, so if somebody's going off, we're just feeding them the ball. We're just getting it to them, and that's what's great about this team. We got so many options, so many talented people, and so many unselfish people that is just works out for us.

Michigan State sophomore guard/forward Miles Bridges

On back-to-back big wins helping with the B1G schedule...

I mean, there's going to be a lot of good teams like that in the Big Ten, so it's really preparing us to lock-down on defense and keep winning the rebound battles.

On getting off to a hot start to open the game...
We were making shots, we moved the ball around, we weren't slacking on offense, and our defense played a big part of it.

Michigan State sophomore guard Joshua Langford

On what was going right to start the game...
We just wanted to go out there and play Michigan State basketball, we've really been doing a great job with just growing in what we need to get better at. We wanted to go out there and do our jobs and that's what we did.

On his string of stellar performances...
I've just been trying to get my team a win, just to do the best I can, just to do my job. The floor's open enough for me to make shots and I try to go out there and do it and that's what I did. I'm a scorer and that's what I can do. I know those shots at the beginning of the year weren't really falling, but I knew I put in a lot of work so I just stayed patient and I just kept doing my job. I'm glad we got the win.

On where the team is heading into Big Ten play...
I think we're excited for the Big Ten, it's kind of earlier than last year. We're excited and we look forward to the challenge because we know the Big Ten is really, really tough, and a lot of great teams in the Big Ten and we're just looking forward to it.


 

 

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