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Men's Basketball
Michigan State 78, North Florida 48 Post-Game Quotes



Dec. 17, 2013

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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement…
I was pleased by the way we started out. We’ve had so much adversity here. To be honest with you, it was not a very good night for me because we thought we’d have those other two guys (Travis Trice and Gary Harris) playing. I found out late last night that they just didn’t think they could go and they tried today. It is what it is. It’s really hard on our team because who’s starting, who’s not starting, who’s this, who’s that. I just came in today and decided that those guys wouldn’t be starting even if they could play and we’ve just got to get a team together and go from there. It’s been hard. I thought we did a great job doing what we wanted to do. We went in to (Adreian) Payne early. (Branden) Dawson had some energy and (Denzel) Valentine was playing really good until, he was playing like Magic Johnson and then it went tragic on one play. Everybody knows I’m tired of that. It’s not one play, it’s been a year and a half of telling him the same thing so he’s got to grow up a little bit but he did a helluva job early, he was really good, and he did some good things later on too. If we’re going to win bigger, somebody said he (North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll) ranked the teams, I have no idea how that went but he didn’t rank our team because we didn’t have our team there. Right now we’re scrambling. I feel like the NFL, if you ask me who’s going to play Saturday I’d say game-time decision, I have no clue. So that part is a little discouraging but for the most part the way we executed offensively, the things we did defensively, didn’t turn the ball over, if (Keith) Appling – felt bad for him – kept short arming those layups, he would have had a 15, 16 point night. Probably the only thing that’s negative and thank God for holiday seasons, Christmas, any time that you have a week off then there’s no 20-hour rule, because we’re going to spend 20 just on free throw shooting so we won’t have to worry about the rule and that’ll start early tomorrow morning. That was the only disappointing part of the night. We didn’t rebound as good the second half. When you got a lead like that, it was hard. I guess in general I was pleased with performance. I was disappointed in a few things and still question marking where we are with this incredible injury situation.

On Gary Harris’s and Travis Trice’s injury…
These guys think they’re Kobe Bryant. We can’t not practice ever and play. Gary (Harris) has missed a lot of practices and Travis (Trice) tried to go to the shootaround today and he did layups and sat down. I don’t blame him, I just mean when he says he can go, where is he going? So I made a decision before the game that they weren’t playing, win, lose, or draw. But I don’t know what good that’s going to do either. His is bizarre, I’ve never seen or heard anything where you have blisters in December. You get them in September or October when you first start really getting after it. He’s had this problem through high school and everything else. It’s just one of those unfortunate, strange things that’s not lasting at all. In Gary’s case, he practiced a day and a half and I thought looked pretty good but he just doesn’t feel as comfortable yet. We’re still working on that.

On Alex Guana and Gavin Schilling’s play tonight…
I thought there were some positives. Gauna gets six rebounds, that’s almost a career. He did some better things and when he didn’t I let him know. He’s got to stay focused. I thought Branden Dawson on the 21-day watch we’ve got him on made some big time plays early. I thought Schilling really set some great screens and rolled, he’s just got to finish a little better. He’s running better, he’s getting more active. Alvin Ellis has done some nice things. It’s nice to see Alvin, he runs well, he defends well. He’s got to shoot a little better from the line.

On Branden Dawson’s play…
Believe it or not, he’s not one of those shooters that when you shoot well you starting playing (better). He did bring it defensively. Right off the bat he did some good things. When he plays, as he gets a little too happy he starts taking too many chances but he definitely did a lot of great things in the first half. It’s hard to evaluate the second half. It’s coach’s nightmare when you’re up 30 because you want to keep growing as a team, you want to make sure some of the guys that needed to – that’s why I was a little disappointed because I thought Alex had played very well and then a couple of defensive lapses just because of laziness. You kind of want to keep pushing them through it. They understood that. All in all, I thought it went pretty good.

On initial thoughts on Texas…
It’s funny, there’s always teams that there’s addition by subtraction. They had a couple guys that they got rid of, pretty talented guys too, by the way. This is a much better team than the one they had last year. Much better. You watch them, Felix, their point guard that played pretty well against us, he’s now coming off the bench. Those inside guys are playing well. It looks like a team that really gets along. They’ve got five guys in double figures. A lot of positive things for Rick (Barnes). I can sympathize with him and understand what he’s gone through. This is a much, much different team, but a better team. It’s a big game and yet it’s still a little difficult wondering who we’re going to have and who’s going to play. I guess the good news is after that game we have a little break.

North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll

Opening statement …
I told coach [Izzo] before the game, on Jan. 30, I think it is, he’ll turn 59. And I told him, ‘I’m older than you think I am, I’m 49.’ I told time that ever since I was a young kid, I had great admiration for him as a coach and him as a person because of the way he handles his kids. You can tell by Adreian Payne, like you can see their relationship [and] how it has grown over the years and why people have such a high level of respect for coach, whether he’s disciplining the kid for academics or disciplining the kid for something off the floor. It was an honor to come here. Obviously, we are on the back-end of our Big Ten ‘A-Sun’ challenge. Coach Izzo said to me, shaking hands after the game, ‘Coach, what happened tonight? I don’t know coach that well, but the one thing about playing against you guys is it’s such a physical game. You guys are strong and physical. You guys have a lot of guys that can make shots and space the floor. (Branden) Dawson, to me, is your guy, almost to the point where you might not be able to lose him because he gives you that one person that can put it on the floor and go get rebounds, guard multiple positions all the time - bigger, stronger, doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he has played inside his whole career and has kind of developed into this new perimeter guy. He can’t shoot, but he can go inside to the rim. I think he was a hard guard. That (Denzel) Valentine kid has surprised me, almost 3-to-1 assist-to-turnovers coming into the game. He surprised me on film as well, and you guys didn’t even have (Travis) Trice and (Gary) Harris tonight, and I don’t even know who the (Russell) Byrd kid is. We won the second half, so maybe when you coach you talk about moral victories or something like that, but we don’t believe in that. When you are at our level you have to play, the schools we have to play, it gets tough on the kids. Our effort is never a question and we are a very good team. I look forward to going back home and playing six of our next eight games at home.

On the benefits of a series like this …
First of all, this is our 28th-game, in my five-year career, against these kinds of opponents. Beyond the financial part, it does create some scenarios you can ever put into practice. For example, Alabama pressed us the whole time. Indiana’s pace of play, Michigan State’s girth and strength - we’ll never see that kind of situation. Ohio State’s ability to stretch you and guard you at all positions, and Florida being a pressing team. From a basketball standpoint, I can’t simulate that stuff in practice. They do get a chance to play in a place they see on T.V. all the time, so that’s what I’d say we get out of it the most. And then a check.

On North Florida’s effort …
Why do our guys keep playing? Because our guys have a belief, sort of like that chair you’re sitting on. If I brought a chair in and brought [one of] our guys in, he’d sit in it. Why? Because they know it’s going to keep you up. If you have the kind of faith in a chair, you have that faith in us. I told those guys there’s four games I can’t control - these last four-games we’ve played. Four out of the last five games we’ve played have been against Alabama, Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State. Those guys understand that, but here’s the thing about our level - if you aren’t truthful with the guys, they know you’re full of crap and they’re not going to believe you. So I just tell it like it is. There are certain things you can’t control during these games. We’ve got to be better, stronger, faster, somehow during these games and be resilient.




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