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Michigan State vs. Nebraska Post Game Quotes

Dec. 3, 2017

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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening Statement…

It’s hard to say what I feel on this game. I did not… It’s hard to say with what (Tim) Miles, their Miles not mine, felt. No, we didn’t play very well offensively I didn’t think. We didn’t move the ball like we needed to. We didn’t do the things that we needed to do. I said on film I like this team. We have a lot of players that can do a lot of things. So, there are harder covers. We did an okay job not turning the ball over, but they didn’t turn it over either. We weren’t very aggressive defensively. We gave up… we only shoot 27 percent, they shoot 45 from three. That just goes to show the lack of aggressiveness on our part. We rebounded the ball pretty well because they missed a lot of shots. I thought on a positive side everybody but Gavin (Schilling) made their free throws. The six turnovers, I guess the rebounding was good. But, all in all I wanted to see if our team, and we have to remember - I have to remember - that we’re still young and we’re in this mess of a fifth game in, what is it, 10 days, 11 days? I wanted to see if we could handle a little success. Handle everybody kissing our tails and I didn’t think that the grip was there today. Our break was non-existent. I thought every time we got a lead Nebraska came back. Give them credit on that. I do like his team. He’s got some talent on that team. It’s just that there’s so many transfers right now that they’re not maybe able to play together yet. There are some pretty good players talent-wise on that team.

All in all, I guess we’ll take the win. We’ll look at the turnovers being a plus. We’ll look at holding them to 27 percent, being partly because of us and partly because of them. I think of all the things that I felt, we weren’t aggressive defensively and we weren’t aggressive offensively. Nick Ward did a good job. We did a good job getting him in. That was part of the game plan. Miles missed two or three layups, and we missed some shots inside and some good 3s. So shooting woes continued shooting 26 percent from the three. It was a win and now somehow we have to get ready in a day for a road trip.

On putting the loss against Duke into perspective with winning the last six games by a minimum of 18 points…
No, it wasn’t very satisfying today to be honest with you. That takes nothing away or says nothing about Nebraska. I have to look at what we do. Our break was non-existent, I give them some credit. They were very well-prepared for a couple of specialty plays that we wanted to run to get Miles (Bridges) posted in that. We didn’t maybe execute as well. I thought up until today we were doing a great job of that. I thought until today we started out a little sloppy. We didn’t execute, we weren’t setting screens and totally disappointed with what we did that we needed to do. Yet, we found a way to score some points and win a game, and mostly because our defense was pretty good. Not aggressive. That’s why we’re giving up so many 3s and they hit ten 3s. No, I’m not going to put that game in there. That is no perspective to the other ones. We could have won by less and played better and I would’ve been happier.

On Jaren Jackson Jr.’s double-double…
We’re trying to get him to be more aggressive because then you can see. We’re trying to isolate him a little bit and put him on the floor which he’s pretty good at. He wasn’t finishing great, but that’s partly getting stronger. He gets 10 rebounds and had, I don’t know how many blocks… Three? I thought he had more than that. But, three blocks. Just like he and Miles, McQuaid. They’re just not shooting it really well. They all shot it really well yesterday and today in the shoot around. Jaren’s definitely coming. I thought he was, again, pretty good defensively. He took a step in the right direction.

On the difference between offensive aggression and being able to draw contact…
I thought some other guys drove, we just kind of flicked it up there. Nick kind of went into them with some contact. That’s why we got to the line. Him and Jaren. It was our two bigs that did more than our guards. Although, Miles had a couple of nice drives, he just didn’t finish. That part of the game plan was to just go in. The problem was for a while there we didn’t get Nick the ball on the offensive end and didn’t do as good on the defensive end. Gavin was good on the defensive end and non-existent on the offensive end. Yeah, we have bodies, but we have plenty of work to do.

On foul trouble with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Nick Ward
Two good questions. I’m hoping that when you go down to the locker room you ask those guys that because in my mind, Jaren just can’t come down. Although I thought some of those were close. He’s just kind of coming down and he doesn’t have to. At the end he kept his hands up and he still blocked shots but ended up on the ground. He’s got good timing, he’s just going to have to learn. Nick, on the other hand, sometimes tries to go over guys’ backs and he has to quit doing that. That’s where our offensive rebounding...we had 13, I didn’t think it was really good because we were kind of just jumping over guys’ backs and not get around guys. Nick will make some progress on that. It was probably a good thing with Jaren. It was probably a plus that he played with that and didn’t do anything after that. Then again, that’s probably why they shot 45 from the three. We just didn’t get out on things, we didn’t switch out very well. We’re going to have to work harder on that.

On Miles Bridges’ performance tonight…
We’re trying to get him to take it to the hole and he did more. We just have to get some consistency. We need to work on coming out of those ball screens, but he definitely made a couple of great drives. Just barely missed two of those pick and rolls. I thought he drove it more. I thought he drove it and dished it more. He actually, even though he was 4-for-12, I thought he was more aggressive than he’s been. That’s one of the three things we wanted to do. To get him more aggressive, to get Jaren more aggressive and get the ball down to Nick. I guess in some ways we accomplished all three things, even though they had different kinds of results.

On Jackson Jr.’s fouls…
You must be talking about his facial body language. He’s still, remember now, he just turned 18 a month or so ago. He has his moments. I thought when Josh (Langford) missed the two free throws, he reverted back a little bit to getting down on himself, which guys do. But then Josh came back and had some big rebounds. I thought he was different. As far as Jaren goes, everyday he grows in one way or another. I told him he has to rebound better, and he did rebound better. He got that tip dunk and he’s starting to get more aggressive going to the boards. Like I said, he’s not afraid. There’s two types of players, if you ask me. Those that are weak and afraid, and those that are weak and not afraid. What I like about him is that he’s not afraid of anybody. He just has to keep getting stronger and learn how to play with the new 20 lbs. that he has on him. He’s getting better at it. He’s getting better. It wasn’t always an easy cover too. They went with five kind of shooters there for a while and we tried covering them differently. They hit two as the shot clock went off and then they hit two with that kid came in that hasn’t been playing much. One kid was shooting 20-some percent. Their three starting out, that was the difference before halftime. If we could have kept it at 20 points instead of down to 12 I think we could have had a different game. I do like the talent on his team. I think that with so many new guys they haven’t learned to play together yet, either. There’s times they moved the ball well and penetrated and kicked out well. I think that team’s going to grow into a decent team, I really do.

On the effect of playing Big Ten games this early…
Yeah. I mean, you know, this is where to me we really struggle because if we could play a noon game today like… Couldn’t do that. It is what it is, you know. The biggest part of it is, it’s going to be the sixth game in a thirteenth day. That’s more important than when they prep. We’ve been kind of skating and in fairness to my team that I’m not satisfied with offensively. We haven’t worked on much, we haven’t practiced much. Been more walk-throughs from out at the PK80 to now, it’s been a lot of walk-throughs. A little bit of shooting and free-throw shooting. We just haven’t been able to do much. So I shouldn’t be surprised by our lack of, maybe running things efficiently. But I think they’ll improve if somehow, some way we can get through tomorrow. Yeah, it’ll be a walk through here for an hour and a half and then fly out there and look at film at night, and then the hour you get for the day of the game and then you play. Rutgers is a much better team. That guy is a hell of a coach, I think. I think he was one of the great additions to our league. Some of those guys that were freshmen and sophomores getting their brains beat are now juniors and seniors. They got to guard (Corey) Sanders, that’s a hell of a player. So first kind of real, real road game, isn’t it? As far as playing on an opponent’s home court. That’s always a different thing, too.

On staying on the offensive glass and keeping Nebraska off of the offensive glass…
Yeah. I don’t think they had any the first-half did they? Then they had like five, five minutes into the second-half. That’s what I said, I thought we played the score. I thought we played like a team that does not have the step on the throat mentality and that part disappointed me. I made no qualms about it. You know, I just don’t like when we’ve given up a wide-open 3 because we’re not getting back on defense. You always worry as a coach, as the more credit your team gets then the more, I wouldn’t say the more negative I got to get but somehow there’s got to be a balance or you start, as they used to say back in the old days, reading the press clippings. Now it’s probably reading the Twitter feed or freakin’ what else do they do? ChatSnap. Whatever they do. I just prefer them just thinking about what we’re seeing which is so much harder to do these days. You know, we’re not big-headed, we’re not looking at it that way. I just think there’s a sense of urgency. You know, I really enjoyed this morning at shoot-around and then I kind of watched a little bit of the football. You listen to those coaches at those top programs that have been there, three, four, five years in a row, that it’s all about consistency, it’s all about culture. That is the one thing getting harder in basketball is to have a culture because you got so many guys leaving and going, you know. Today I thought our culture wasn’t like our culture the great teams we’ve had used to be. That’s what we’ve got to keep working toward. I guess that’s my job and I’ll try to do a better job than I did today.

On Jaren Jackson Jr. falling to the floor a lot…
Well, not his health I don’t think because when he falls there’s… I don’t know, he’s got a big, long body. I think it’s like the beanstalk once it starts tipping, it goes, you know. But he does get to the floor a lot. But he does and then pops right back up. That’s what I say, he’s not soft. He’s just… he’s still trying to find himself. He’s getting better every day. I absolutely love the kid because he listens and he’s trying to learn and he’s trying to get better. But different teams throw different things at him too, you know. Some are going to want to be physical with him, they think he can’t take that; Like he spun a couple of great jump hooks and he just missed them. He makes all those in practice. I think sometimes he doesn’t realize what he can do yet. Put it on the floor, we kind of ran a clear play from the first play and I don’t know, he was so surprised that it was open, he just double-dribbled. But I don’t have any problem with… Our guys had good practices, they were focused in this morning. It’s just that the mentality of put your foot on somebody’s throat when you get them down because if you don’t do that on the road, then you’ll lose games. You saw the little bit against Notre Dame, the start of the second-half. But hell, if we didn’t have anything to work on I wouldn’t have a job so it’s good we have something to work on.

On being disappointed with a 29-point win over a Big Ten team…
Yeah, I know that sounds bad for Nebraska so let me make sure I straighten that out. I just didn’t like the way we played. Whether we score points or not, you saw that our break wasn’t there. You saw that we didn’t defend the 3 at all. You saw that we just didn’t execute. We were dribbling the ball too much. We didn’t look very efficient. When you have a good team you want to continue to work on the things that it’s going to take to be a great team. If you give in to those things that we’re not doing, that’s not good. So I’m not overly upset. I’m not taking anything away from Nebraska. They played well in stretches and they played poor in stretches. They cut it back to 12, they cut it back in to 10, whatever, and did some things on the road. Then, you know, I think our depth hurt them a little bit too. Even though some of our depth didn’t play as well; We got to get Kenny Goins now back in there a little bit more in the rotation. I think he’s good enough to be healthy enough. It would be nice if we could get to the point where we have a true rotation, pretty soon you know. That will be the next job of me and my staff. Next job of our players will be to execute a little better offensively and figure out what we got to do when we have some success. So that I’ll be fighting you guys, I’ll be fighting our fans, I’ll be fighting the world because we won a few games. We won a few big games, okay? And we played pretty well in two of them, defensively. Played very well offensively against Notre Dame, during Oregon against North Carolina. I said all year, we have not been playing real good offensively. That’s why we’re averaging 16 turnovers. So today we didn’t turn it over but we didn’t execute as well. We still got some things to work on, which we should have. I mean, we’re still awfully young too. We’ll try to get better. It’ll be a tough turn around but a big game for us. If you have aspirations of winning the conference, these are the kind of games you got to win. These are sometimes harder to win than bigger games. We’re going to go out there and try to stay as fresh as we can and see what we can do. Thanks a lot, enjoy the day.

Nebraska head coach Tim Miles

On Michigan State controlling the offensive boards…

I’m really impressed with Nick Ward. He has improved and is running better. With Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges, it’s hard to double them without giving up too much of the glass or perimeter, so they put you in a conundrum. This is an excellent team – the best team I have seen in my six years of being in the league, and that includes the team that went to the Final Four. They have better depth and I think   their defensive is better.

On seeing Jaren Jackson Jr. play for the first time...
I can’t wait until he goes pro. (laughter) He is very impressive. I remember seeing him play in high school – he was big then, but he got even bigger. I think he has good skill, and defensively he really alters the game from his spot. He can come over and make so many plays – whether it be rebounding or blocking shots. I think he blocked two shots on Copeland, and Copeland isn’t bad. You have to drive to pass, you can’t drive to score with Michigan State. We have been able to do that – drive to pass – when we won here, but there is no way you can do that with this team.

On his relationship with Tom Izzo
What I love about Tom Izzo is that he’s a mentor to young coaches. He has been someone who has called me at times and has been really gracious with his time . If I have questions and need to call him, he gets back to you fairly quickly. You just learn a lot about yourself and your team, a lot in terms of how to be successful . Tom Izzo has a standard, and I don’t mind playing them early. Tom Izzo is a gold standard for the league and it’s fun to compete against him. This is an excellent team and he’s doing a great job with them.

Michigan State sophomore guard Cassius Winston

On how the team played tonight…

This is probably one of the worst games we’ve played, actually, this season. We weren’t playing Spartan basketball, we weren’t pushing the ball, we weren’t defending as well. We’re a talented team, so that’s how we hit some shots and made some plays, but we didn’t play our basketball out there.
 
On what the team can learn from this game…
Just that no matter the opponent, no matter who we’re playing, we got to play our type of basketball. If this was a road game, a lot of things could’ve went [Nebraska’s] way, so if we don’t come in with that energy, that focus every game it can hurt us.
 
On the support from the Izzone…
That’s huge. They basically won us this game, just them bringing that energy. A lot of times it’s hard to bring energy throughout yourself, but if you got the Izzone out there, bringing that energy for you, it just helps a lot.
 
On the importance of the upcoming road game vs Rutgers…
Any road game in the Big Ten is a big game, no matter who you’re playing. So, we got to set the tone for the freshmen, for a lot of us guys who haven’t had this road for last year, that each game counts. It could be just one game that hurts you in the end. So, we go in with there with that mindset then we’re going to be alright.

Michigan State freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr.


On what it means to get their first Big Ten win of the season…
It means everything, especially because the game has come a lot earlier than before, and it just shows how if you lose a game like that it can hurt you in the long run, so we wanted to make sure we come out there and make a statement.

On what Izzo’s message was to the team coming into the Big Ten opener…
Just do what we’ve been doing and not look at the opponent in any way and just play our game, because you try to get up for big games against like ranked opponents and that’s what we’ve been playing a lot of. When you come across a team like this, this is your conference, you have to play well and hold down the conference, especially at home.

How to take the win moving forward…
We just take it as we know we can play a lot better. We know we can shoot a lot better, but we did some good things out there. We can’t think about it too long because we got Rutgers in two days.


 

 

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