MSU Spartans
Rotating image
Men's Basketball
Alumni Game (White 125, Green 118) - Post-Game Quotes
 
 
 

 

 
 

Dec. 14, 2012

Recap |  Photo Gallery 

Michigan State Alumni Mateen Cleaves

Thoughts on playing at Jenison Field House ...
It was an honor to play on the same floor that Terry Furlow played, the original "Flintstone", and Magic Johnson, and Kevin Willis. All the tradition that is here, it was an honor to play in the same arena and just out here with some of the older guys that I always looked up to.

On playing with some of the players he looked up to...
It was the best thing in the world. I mean it was a dream come true to be playing with Steve Smith. I looked up to Steve Smith; that was my idol when I grew up watching (basketball). To be on the same floor with him in an actual game that was an honor. And to play with the guys I played with, the younger guys who came behind me, all the guys I looked up to it was just an honor. I am very grateful and thankful to be a part of everything.

Planning the dance ...
No, no, I didn't! It just took over man. You know what I mean? I was just having fun. It just took me over; I just had to get one last one in.

Importance of coming back to Michigan State basketball ...
It's the best. We heard all of the stories. Whenever the older guys would come back and talk to us, or an older guy was in the stands when I played, I wanted to play my best game out of respect for them and respect for the ground that they laid. Whenever they came back I wanted to give my best show. So just to be back here and interacting and sharing the floor with these guys is an honor man. Steve Smith that's who I grew up watching and that's who I really loved. I couldn't get 21. Johnny Green had 24, and Shawn Respert couldn't get that. Steve Smith had 21 so I had to flip it around to get 12. Just to be a part of this is great. 

Michigan State Alumni Morris Peterson

On coming back to play in the game...
It was a lot of fun to be back with the family, to be back wearing that Spartan green, and to be back home. It's always good because you get to see familiar faces and I never forget where I came from.  It's a great experience to be back. You have generations of basketball players and even guys who are out there playing with their fathers, so I mean any time you can come back and play, you get a chance to bond and it is always a good thing.

On Mateen Cleaves dancing after a made layup...
That was pretty funny. I started to go over there and do it with him but I don't have as much rhythm as Mateen.

On the competitiveness of the game...
All of these guys can play. Anytime we get out here it is going to be competitive and you're going to get guys feeling like they can do the same things they did 10 or 20 years ago. It competition; the guys came out and played hard and played well. 

On playing with many different generations of Spartan basketball players...
It makes me proud to be a Spartan. For the guys playing now, they can see that it is more than just about being here. Once you leave here, you are still family and we still keep in contact and I think that is the most important thing for us.

On being invited to play in the game...
I am very honored. You are talking about generations of players, and when Coach Izzo called me to come, I dropped everything because I know how important it is to come back and see old players and pay homage to them. Playing with guys like Dre (Andre Rison) is unbelievable. He has taught guys like me that wherever you go you have to always remember where you're from, and he has done a great job of it.

Michigan State Alumni Kevin Willis

On tonight's atmosphere...
It was incredible. The turnout was incredible and it reminded me of back when we were playing here and the electricity was good, and this is what Spartan basketball is all about. All of these guys from different areas is a beautiful thing. I loved playing in this atmosphere; it was a flashback from back in the day. Anytime you can do that, it is incredible. I'm very honored to participate in this game. It's always good to come back and be a part of it.

Favorite part of the night...
Seeing all of the guys is the biggest thing. It has been so many years, so to see all of the guys come together is special.

On what makes this basketball program so special...
Because we are Spartans. It is in our hearts and it has always been like that.

On Jud Heathcote not being there...
Something was missing. Jud is responsible for all of my achievement and I attribute all of my work ethic and discipline to him.

Michigan State Alumni Steve Smith

On being back in the center of the limelight...
You know, it was great for me. I'm kind of the player who bridged the gap between young and old. I played two years in Jenison and two years in Breslin. So it was great for me. I remember coming up here and watching Mike Robinson, watching (Scott) Skiles, and watching Kevin Willis. To get a chance to see not only those guys play, but to see the current team here. There's so many generations. You see, Kevin Willis is like 50, but otherwise he's at 30. Dwayne Stephens scored, it was great to see that because, you know what, when Dwayne scored it reminded me of when he got that steal and we won the Big Ten Championship. Unbelievable. It made me feel like a kid because of the smiles but not the body.

On playing in remembrance of the historic weekend...
With this game, the historic weekend, what Michigan State did back in those days - this is unbelievable where we come from as a country, from the game all those years ago to now, to see everybody blended as one.

On his importance to Keith Appling and Derrick Nix ...
Well, you know, they're important to me because they keep me going and they keep me proud. Not only them. I remember Denzel (Valentine), when I was playing with Carlton (Valentine), when he was a baby and running around. 

Michigan State Alumni Mike Peplowski

On his intensive preparation for this game...
I started training for this back in July. I started losing a lot of weight about two years ago. Dr. Mike Shingles, who has been my surgeon for awhile, and Herb Ross, all of these guys as well as the trainers and everybody here at Michigan State, probably most importantly Mike Vorkapich, really helped me in getting to a point where I was able to do this. I'm not saying I did it very well, but I did it and that's it.

On the playing with the other alumni and playing in Jenison...
What it is, is it's really about us. Listen, we're not getting any younger. None of us are. This was my last chance to do this. That's it. So call it a mid-life crisis; it's a pretty good mid-life crisis. I did it. I'm with a group of men that, literally, I'd do anything for and that I love to death, truly love these men and they love me back. It's the greatest fraternity in the world.

On playing for tonight's crowd...
I couldn't believe 6,500 people wanted to watch us play. I mean we're just a bunch of old guys. It's amazing. Thank God we went to school here because I don't think this would happen to anyone else.

Michigan State Alumni Andre Hutson

On visiting Jenison during his recruitment process...
They did bring me over here. They told me Magic (Johnson) played here so I had to come check it out.

On playing with some of his old teammates and when they've played last...
I told each and every one of them I love them and that it was a pleasure to be back out here with them again.

Probably since we played 12 years ago. I mean, someone must've played together in open gyms in the summer but to have us all out there like that was pretty special.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

On what he told his players today...
I told our players today, make sure you rub shoulders with some of the greatness that has been here. These guys have not only been here, but they've been in pro ball, they've played in Europe; they get it. There wasn't one guy who wasn't incredibly appreciative of coming back.

On Mateen Cleaves' dance after a made basket and a foul...
Wasn't that unbelievable? That was special. Only he could come up with it, just like he came up with it in the first place (after the national title game in 2000). I didn't know what the heck he was doing the first time. I knew what he was doing the second time.

On Cleaves saying it was a spontaneous move...
I believe that. It's like kissing the S and all of the other things he does. He's a spontaneous guy, but a special guy.

On if he was impressed with the quality of play, and if they were getting after it...
At times, they were. At times...I'm questioning Mark Dantonio right now. (laughing) He's one of the best defensive coaches in the whole country - but there wasn't a whole lot of checking going on with his team. So I told Mark after, `hey, you let me down a little on that.' He said, `I'm turning into an offensive coach.'

On watching the players get up and down the court...
You know, it's funny. They all said it wasn't that they got so tired, it was when they sat down. As Pep (Mike Peplowski) says, when you get a diesel engine going, you don't want to shut it off.

On some of the players he enjoyed watching...
Well, the Flintstones, they're special guys, they have a special bond. That bond was fun to watch.

On having all of the players back...
This is what it's all about. If you work at a place and you get players that want to come back, that means they appreciate it, they respect it, they have a good time. They liked what they had when they were here. All of those things are really critical to me. That's why you coach. Banners are great, championships are great, but it's the people and the memories that are so special. These guys mean a lot to me. Some that I coached, some that I never coached. They mean a lot to me.

Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio (head coach of the home team)

On having a smile on his face during the game...
Well, there was no pressure. People say, `why don't you smile more?' And I say, `hey, that's my job.' This wasn't my job tonight...It's a fluid game. A man has got to know his limitations, so I didn't tell people much, I just watched. I'm 1-0, and I'll probably retire.

On his big coaching move of the night...
Did you see us have the weave out there? That was my move. I said, `let's weave it on the top end and let's low post, high post, and get some picks there.' But they broke away from that quick.

On coaching from the bench...
It was a great experience, just being involved. I said it earlier, it just speaks to the tradition here built by Tom (Izzo) and Jud Heathcote and so many other people. The tradition. When I walked out here, I saw these guys and I listened to them. It just spoke about the tradition of excellence that they've had for years and years.

 

 

SHOP NOW

at the official
Online Store