MSU Spartans
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Men's Basketball
Post Game Quotes: New Orleans



Dec. 28, 2013

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Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement...
We weren't very good early. It was disappointing, to be very honest with you. Adreian (Payne) played so well and I just didn't think he focused in. That's the battle nowadays, you hear more and more coaches talking about it, can guys maintain their hunger. He had seven rebounds and he should have had 15. I say that only because it's important to me, it's important to him. At Texas he went after everything, he looked like Draymond Green. He just said `I'm not letting anybody else get any today.' Gary (Harris) missed so many open shots early, but that's understandable with the time he's missed. Once we got on track, I thought we played better. There were some bright spots, Denzel (Valentine) 13 rebounds, Gary Harris nine rebounds. Maybe the biggest thrill of the night was Keith (Appling) coming off one of his worst games, really bounced back. Christmas was good, I think he's healthier. He pushed the ball. He had eight assists; if Gary hits a couple of those, he has a double-double. We could have almost had three, four double-doubles with Payne and Harris and Appling in different ways. I know the competition, I liked the way those guys played early. Yet our size I think bothered them, our rebounding bothered them a little bit. They did some things that bothered us, too. They took us off the dribble a little bit with our bigs. The (Branden) Dawson thing so you all know, yesterday he got kicked in the shin on a drill. It was kind of swollen this morning and he could have probably gone but we just talked together. Yet it was one of the more enjoyable things I've done, listening to him on the bench, he was a way better coach than I was today and he did a helluva job keeping our guys up when we weren't playing very well. He's fine, there's no problems, there's no bones cracked or anything like that he just got a bad bruise. He should be no problem. Some other good things were the 25 assists. I thought that was one of the things I said to my team, we've got to get back to getting 20-plus assists. Getting 25 on 36 baskets was impressive.

On assessing him team leading up to Big Ten play...
I keep saying, I don't know if I've had my full team. I had them for a while. I still haven't had (Matt) Costello, which we need as you can see. With (Branden) Dawson out today, I like the direction we're heading I just need more consistency but when you don't get the practice with everybody for three weeks, I shouldn't be totally surprised at the lack of consistency. We got (Gary) Harris some great shots early, they just didn't go. He bounced back and that was encouraging. Like I said, Adreian (Payne), when you become a star then you're going to get focus on you and you're going to have to respond to that. I think today was a good lesson for him that no matter who you play, you better be bringing it every day. If that means I'm calling him out, I am because I think he's a helluva player and I really thought he's matured and today maybe we took a half a step back. I can promise you, we're going to take a couple steps forward within the next couple days.

On Keith Appling bouncing back from his four-point performance at Texas...
I did talk to him a lot after that game. It was uncharacteristic of the way he's played most of the year. The last couple weeks after he took that fall from that North Carolina game, his wrist has been bothering him. We were worried about the hip. I told him when he went home, maybe don't even shoot, don't do anything, just get some rest. I think for the most part, that's what he did. I reminded him that the more he runs the team, the more assists he gets, it seems like the more points he gets, today was another example. Really proud of the way Keith played today. As I said, he has a double-double if we make a couple more shots. Those eight assists and one turnover, guarding very well, hitting his threes, getting in the lane, getting fouled, and doing all that with only 10 shots being taken is very efficient. I think the reason for it; number one he's really played well most of the year. I think the game has slowed down and I think he's looked at the game more who can I get the ball to and it just kind of opened up everything else. It's been amazing. Really happy for Keith because he works at it, he's a tough, tough kid; spends a lot of time in here, and he's starting to get some of the benefits that all that hard work has done for him.

On Kenny Kaminski's return...
I told you, we're going to make sure he handles himself off the court, on the court, and in the classroom. We suspended him for the rest of the semester. What brought him back is, coaches for the most part are going to give kids second, third, fourth chances, or as many as they can give them. Kenny has got to grow up. That growing up means that him and I are running out of chances. He's going to do it my way or he's going to hit the highway, as they say. He could help us. He's a very good shooter, he's just immature. That immaturity is hopefully going to change now. I think he's got players on his side and yet on him. Kenny could be a big help because we are struggling inside right now with Alex (Gauna) and - (Gavin) Schilling played really well at Texas, just got in some foul trouble. The one thing (Kaminski) gives us is a guy who can shoot it, like AP. He would be a good sub for him. I think Costello coming back, somebody is going to beat somebody out there. The nice thing is, I feel like Mark (Dantonio) with his quarterbacks, I don't have to feel guilty about anything because I've given guys a chance, both to play and redeem themselves. Right now, it's going to be a helluva battle in the next couple days to figure out which five of those guys are going to end up in three or four spots. They've all had their chance and the strong survive.

On Colby Wollenman playing early...
I love Colby. He's going to be a doctor. If he gets a B, I'm kicking him off the team because I don't want to ruin his grade-point. He's been an unbelievable student-athlete here and just an incredible kid. He impressed us so much after his first year that we redshirted him last year. Even though he's not on scholarship, we redshirted him, because I can see down the road him playing. He's smart, he understands. He's a lot stronger than he looks. We were just searching, we had guys in foul trouble, and I don't regret that, I didn't feel uncomfortable with it. We're going to make sure that Colby keeps getting reps because he's a kid I know will bring it every day.

New Orleans Head Coach Mark Slessinger

Opening statement ...
We opened up and had a very good 10-minute start in a game that we played at a very high level. This was a possession game for us. They're so good in offensive transition and they're so good on the offensive glass. You can't give them second opportunities, you can't give them easy breakout stuff and that's what I thought happened after about the 10-minute mark. They had a big run. We have to come back and be able to handle those runs and be able to play at a higher level for a sustained period of time. We've had a very tough non-league schedule. Coming into this week, we were the No. 2 toughest non-conference schedule in the country, behind Kansas. I would think after today it may bump up closer to them [Kansas]. It's really helped us and made us better. We played long stretches in those games and we played a good 40 minutes at UTEP and got a win, but we just didn't have enough good minutes strung together today to play with them. All the credit goes to them. This is one of the better basketball teams in the country. They play a very direct, no nonsense style of basketball. It's very, very good and they're going to beat a lot of people.

On the change in pace after the first 10 minutes...
I thought that we took some ill-timed shots. We went outside of our game plan. We had a pretty specific game plan of how we wanted to manage possessions and how we wanted to shorten the game. We wanted to almost make it a little bit ugly and really try to work the clock and try to get the best shot we could. We knew that we were probably going to be limited to one [shot], and so we were pretty defiant in what we wanted to do on the offensive end. We took some ill-timed shots and those ended up being long, leak-out shots - a point guard taking a three when we didn't have someone back in transition. We got out of our comfort zone; out of our game plan in playing what we thought was the right way for this game. We've got to be better at being able to stay composed. This was a great environment and a great test for our guys to be able to make ourselves better.

On Keith Appling...
I think he's undersold a lot. Being from the Midwest, I'm still a little bit of a Big Ten junkie. I still secretly sneak watching Big Ten stuff. I think he has always been a little underrated on the national scene. We didn't stop him in transition and we couldn't make quick decisions. He played a very, very efficient game today. We didn't contain him when we needed to and he got to the free throw line. His size and strength was key against our smaller guards.




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