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Michigan State vs. Savannah State Post-Game Quotes

Dec. 31, 2017

Recap |  Box Score |  Notes |  Photo Gallery 1  |  Photo Gallery 2 

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening Remarks…
Those of you who are back from the bowl game, welcome to this balmy weather we are having. I think it really effected us the first half, especially the first nine minutes. I think we had nine or 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes and then seven or eight the rest of the game. I was disappointed in that only because I thought it would show the maturity that we are having and I guess I still have to realize there are still a lot of sophomores and freshmen playing, and we played like it in the first half.

We knew they were going to press us, we talked about the turnovers. They were so sloppy, I can’t even understand it. And then we didn’t shoot it as well, and I saw a couple guys heads go down like we went through last year which was a teaching moment. Halftime was another teaching moment because I let those guys teach each other, and I think they did a pretty good job.

I thought we played better the second half. Cassius (Winston) went from rags to riches in the second half. Miles’ (Bridges) defense was as good as it has been. He finally got in there and rebounded like he is capable of rebounding.

That was a funny team to play. It was a hard team. They shoot 3s from everywhere. They average 41, and today shot 42. They missed a lot of them but made them in that stretch and that is why the game was one or two point game with seven or eight minutes left in the half. What was exciting to me was Cassius getting 13 assists, which is a career high for him. Miles gets 21 rebounds which is a career high for him. Disappointed that Nick (Ward) didn’t miss a shot, I don’t have anything to get on him for tomorrow. Thank God he did some average free throw shooting which will give me some reason to work tomorrow. But he gets 10 rebounds and 21 points. I thought he played very well.

Thirty-five assists as a team which is one off the school record. You can’t ask for more than that. Now we don’t have to question anymore. I’m trying to figure out where my team is a little bit just because of these last three or four games, but now we will know since this week things change a little bit. They are going to be like that the rest of the time and I am looking forward to it.

On coaching guys that love the game…
They love the college game right now. They want to be pro’s, but love the college game. That’s what I love about Miles the most. Still to this day, I have been around the game a lot of years and when you are in the locker room or listening to someone else talk, there are always things that come up and they never come up with Miles. That is a great leader for the rest of our guys and how to handle things. It has been a joy and at the same time, he needed to be motivated a little bit.

His defense the second half was as good as it’s been since he has been here. Jaren Jackson, we have to get him going a little bit. He missed some free throws and didn’t get enough shots, in my humble opinion. Some of that is him and some of that is us. He gets two rebounds, which is a low for him, and still gets two or three blocks.

We still have some tweaking to do, but it is fun to have guys around that appreciate. They appreciated the crowd. At one of the late huddles they even said something about the crowd.  Can’t ask for more than that

On the slow start…  
Which really, really bothered me. I’ll tell you why; I have spent a lot of hours talking to them about learning how to play the game and not the team – good or bad – meaning Savannah State or Duke. You still can’t play the jersey, you have to play the game. I thought for the most part this preseason we have done a pretty good job of that. I thought today, in that first 10 minutes, we didn’t. We scheduled like we scheduled it to have a one-day prep to see if we could simulate an NCAA game and things like that, which I always try to do.  I would say right now we didn’t do a very good job there. We have to do a better job as a staff and hopefully that will turn out to doing a better job as players. Where I have seen some maturity, is that other years the whole game would have gone like that. In this, the first ten, twelve minutes went like that. They regrouped a little bit and then really regrouped at halftime and did a very nice job of bouncing back and pulling through one another, trying to get different guys shots. Some of those huddles are so unique because of guys actually trying to help other guys. It is pretty cool.                     

On not liking these types of games because of the possibility of overlooking a team like Savannah State…
It’s a reality, maybe it’s not a good reality. I’m hoping that we respect the game enough, and that’s what I would like to see more. I believe some guys learned a good lesson tonight and we probably needed that too.

On being pleased with the 3-point defense in the second half…
Yeah I was. Especially Miles. But Tum (Nairn Jr.) also got a little better after he was shaky there for a little while. Josh (Langford) was pretty solid. (Matt) McQuaid was pretty solid. Jaren (Jackson Jr.) was actually pretty solid, with having to guard, really a guard out there half the time. Nick (Ward) and Gavin (Schilling) even guarded even when they put their small lineup in there.

Nick did what Nick is supposed to do. Nick got tired. I think Nick’s not used to playing both ends. Last year, he played one half of one end, we didn’t run as much. Kind of took a siesta after he got in the post, stood around and scored some points. Now he’s playing both, he’s sprinting up there. He came out that one time when he didn’t finish that layup and missed a free throw and I looked at him and he was huffing and puffing. I said, ‘now you know why you play 20 minutes a game instead of 25.’

On the probability of moving to the No. 1 spot in the polls…
Anytime that we can be No. 1 is great because it still speaks more about the program. The program can handle that, these players. Each group is different, but they came here because this program has been ranked No. 1 before. We’ve played in those big games before. So unless they’re in that stage where you watch what you wish for, I think it is a good thing. Who knows, it could last a game – been in that situation before. But I think that everybody would agree that there are five or six teams right now that are leading that line of worthy of being that one.

I watched Villanova play yesterday and I thought, the one thing I thought, especially over Christmas break, their depth hurt them a little bit. But I love his (Jay Wright) team. I really think they’re really good. Their point guard is special. I didn’t get to see the Arizona State-Arizona game. I think Arizona is a team that is better than their ranking too, because they got off to that goofy start. Kansas is getting a little better. There’s going to be a lot of teams beating a lot of teams because a lot of these conferences right now have so much parody that there’s going to be a lot more losses ahead, and how you handle those. That was my other thing I was disappointed in; the first timeout we were average, but the second timeout we weren’t playing very good. What I didn’t like is I saw heads going down and now we’re not guarding as well. We cannot do that, because there will be a lot of adverse times in the next two months. We have to figure that out as a staff and as a team, and correct some of that again and respond quick.         

On Nick Ward’s stretch of 35 of his last 37 shots over the past few games…
No, it has to be good coaching. It has to be, Fred, it has to be. You know, what he’s doing is, you know, we have our times when he is in the game that we really go to him, and he’s responding and what he’s doing better now than he was doing earlier, he’s kicking the ball out and either getting it back in or getting it a different time so his ability to move the ball right now has been good and now he’s offensive rebounding a little bit better. You know, we’re still, I mean I guess we got 14 tonight considering we shoot 63 percent, but I think we can do a better job in that area and Nick is doing a better job, but he’s taking very few bad shots. And that adds to it but no, I’ve never had anybody, I guess back in the Jud (Heathcote) days, Bobo (Ron) Charles did decent, set a record. But the difference with Bobo, he was a dunk and in guy, you know? It was either a dunk or a poster. You know, our guy’s getting some shots and he’s getting, you know, they’re the hook shots and that but running the court better. He ran the court one time so well. Nick has impressed me and Nick is going to be my next Morris Peterson you know, a little adversity and a little success. The only difference is he’s got a long way to go and we’re just going to keep pushing him because his condition is getting better. I was serious when I said he has to learn to play both ends of the court, because that does take up more energy and guard different people. Like now, we’re not afraid to switch with him on a four, because we think he can get down and guard him and that’s a big compliment to him now. And I think it’s a big plus for his future and whether he can guard different kinds of people and all that so, making some progress.

On his team shooting well…
You know, I didn’t think we shot as well today. I kept saying to DJ (Dwayne Stephens), how are we in the 60’s? Because we missed some, Miles (Bridges) missed some wide-open shots, Josh (Langford) missed some wide-open shots.

You know, I didn’t think we shot it as good, but you know, our fast break has been a lot better. I mean, we’re starting to push the ball in the regular bases and I think we’re wearing some teams down with our depth, you know, and that’s what should happen and that is one of the advantages we have even if it’s not always as potent, the depth. We get guys in, get guys a rest, and I still think that’s something we’ve got to work on is a little more structure in our substitution. I think DJ has done a good job of trying to manage that a little bit, but I think we get a little better at that too. No, I haven’t seen a team shoot it as well as we’ve shot it lately in a while. You know, maybe that’s why we’re one of the better teams in the country to be honest with you, but it’s our defense that’s going to do it. You defend and you rebound, that really helps your running game. They did a couple different things. They pressed after the rebound and we worked on that for the one day, but that’s where the one-day prep, I told them after, if we run into somebody in the tournament that does that, we did not handle that one-day prep. We went over it, we spend time on it. I did not think we handled it well, but to their credit, they did a better job second half.

On what it means to set records as a team…
I’m a big fan of personal goals and team goals and program goals. I really am. I think kids need to be motivated for something all the time. I still remember Draymond (Green) a couple years ago and I asked him, ‘is getting to 70 wins is that important?’ and his answer was, ‘hell yes.’

It’s good to do something where you can, as I always say, leave your footprint in the sand. It’s good to do some things that… I was talking to Will about it before the game and he said, ‘do we want to bring this up?’ And I said, ‘no I’ve been afraid of a lot of things the last ten years, and sometimes I think I hurt myself. No,’ I said, ‘that is going to be one of the goals is to try and score that’ just because I thought we could.

I thought we were going to give them opportunities. I didn’t know if we’d stop them, but I thought we’d get them because they don’t hold the ball very long and I think anytime you can do something to leave your mark at a place, as long as it’s not turnovers or opponents scoring. If it’s assists, if it’s scoring points, if it’s rebounds I think those are positive things that they’re going to remember someday when I’m gone and their bring their grandkids back here.

On his team honoring the military veterans…
That was a teary-eye moment for me because I said all the negative things that are said out there of kids not understanding what the military has done for us or the police or whatever. There are problems. We’ve already addressed those, but there are neat things too, and I got a chance to meet them all as I walked out. And you see a group like that and you got Mark Hollis, I mean the guy is phenomenal. You look at that’s his program that he put together and it’s just been, even the referee said something to me about how cool it was. And with the players it was Tum saying something to Mike Garland, and Mike Garland said, ‘oh I can’t take credit for that.’

But it was touching for me. I think it was really touching for them, but in a way with a team like this I think it was cool and touching to our players too.

On Miles Bridges reaching marks past Flint players have…
Well Antonio was here for a couple days this week too so maybe that has something to do with it. I told Antonio to go run up and down against Miles and see if he can get a little bit of that toughness and beastly manner. Antonio talked to the team, I think it was Friday, and those are the cool things about the guys who do come back. You know Antonio, one of the things he said to them was, ‘I love coming back’ and then he said, ‘and I need to come back because you guys motivate me.’

I know if you’re a Flintstone, and Miles is, I’m sure that will mean the world to him and I’m sure the first phone call he’ll get will be from Antonio. And it wouldn’t shock me since he was in last week too that if the second one would be from Gregory. And I can’t tell you that that means more to me than 80% of our wins. It’s just something special we have and I think it’s important and I think it is special and not everybody has it.

On what he’s seen from McQuaid recently…
Yeah him and Miles have been working together in practice on all these shooting drills. And it’s really been funny because it’s frick and frack, and yet I watch those two challenge each other every day, but it’s in such a positive manner.

I mean if one of them misses a couple they make sure the pass was even better so that he makes the next one and I said, ‘you two guys should shoot together for the rest of your lives.’ You know I think it’s helping the both of them. Miles has missed a couple shots that I think are right there and so I told at halftime two games ago that he was going to change his rebounding. I said, ‘you know Miles, you’re probably capable of doing a lot of things that you want to do if that’s what you really want to do, and not what I want you to do.’ He said after ‘you know I got to get in that gym more, shooting more.’

This will be a good week because we get some time, have a couple two-a-days. They get some time nobody else is around. They can come in at night a shoot. I think we can make some progress this week and I think that’s very important for us. It’s going to change guys you know this has been a strange way of doing it. We haven’t done it this way very often where we played all those big games and then we played since Oakland we played four games we should have won. I don’t know if we should won by the amount we won by, but it gives you guys a little feeling that maybe we are better than we are. It probably gives them a little feeling that we’re better than we are and I’ll be very honest with you it sometimes affect me a little bit and I’ve asked a couple of where do you think we are? The one answer that I keep getting from my staff is that we still got a bunch of big guys that still have goals, and we’re trying to make each game so that they have goals within the game. Some of them are what we hold opponents to, and some of them are the rebounding margin, and some of them are on our field goal percentage, defense and offense, and 3-point defense and offense.

We’re going to keep working on it. We’re probably like… the first ten minutes we weren’t as bad as we were playing and sometimes we’re not as good as we’ve been playing, but this team has been pretty consistent on both ends of the court and you can say well we’ve beat some teams that we should have beat. Well not that long ago we beat some teams that maybe some people didn’t think we were beat either and so I think we’ve had a pretty good cross reference here of what we’ve got and it’s just a little different because it’s four in a row and all of a sudden now that’s going to change a little bit, but the good part is I think we’ve got some confidence, as long as we’re not cocky. If we’re confident in our shooting – like McQuaid – that’s great. If we’re cocky about it we’ll go right down the tubes pretty quick.

So the next couple games are going to be a lot different than these last four, but they’re not going to be any different than the six or seven we played earlier in the year either. Have a good new year everyone.

Savannah State head coach Horace Broadnax


On how good Michigan State is…
I think they’re good. They’re going to always be good because they’ve got Coach Izzo there, but you know, it’s tough – what you mentioned – playing on both sides of the court, and that’s the only advantage that we probably had coming into the game. I think it was probably tough for Coach Izzo to have these guys ready for Savannah State, as opposed to a University of Indiana or Michigan or Wisconsin in that Big Ten Conference. They probably didn’t get off to a good start or like they wanted to, but the second half they pretty much wore us down.

That’s the difference between a Power Five and Savannah State, but they’re going to be good because they’ve got several guys that are capable of playing at the next level, and Coach Izzo is going to make sure that they’re ready. You know, it’s kind of hard for those guys to get up for Savannah State. I think that’s the only advantage that we had for this particular game because sometimes you take smaller teams wider. As a basketball player at Georgetown University, we used to hate playing teams that we were supposed to, were expected to beat, because Coach Thompson was a little bit furious. He was relentless against those teams because he knew it was kind of tough to get up for it.

I think they’re going to be good. They’ve got some young guys. Miles (Bridges) is great. Jaren Jackson Jr. is going to be there. It’s got to take some time, but when it’s all said and done they’re going to gel. They’re going to be pretty good.

On the message in the locker room at the half…
It’s always, we want to stick to what we’re trying to do. I always use the analogy that this is not the jungle that we’re supposed to be in. This is a different jungle that’s got different animals in this jungle. We’re trying to survive and get through so that we can look at some clips, pull some clips and show that tape. You know, we executed under some tough defense. In the second half, you could hear the guys, the defense was in front of us talking so we wanted to come out and execute. We didn’t, you know, we didn’t want to give up easy baskets.

I think a lot of times in the first half we gave up easy baskets down the last eight minutes, seven minutes of the game, that’s where I called timeout and said, ‘we’re not participating or scoring anymore, we’re participating and doing things right and just competing.’ We gave up too many easy baskets. I think if you take away all the easy baskets, even in the first half, offensive rebounds. We just tried to do what we could do and move away. Coach Izzo is probably glad that non-conference is over now. It’s all about conference. From his standpoint, from my standpoint, it’s about conference, how you do in the conference to try and position yourself for postseason in some kind of way.

On the benefit of playing a team you have little chance of beating…
Well, we just ran out of gas. I have to take the moral victory that the guys played well in the first half. It’s Power Five. Early on in my career, I probably would’ve lost a few of them, a few players in a situation like that because you want to compete. You got two guys that are possibly lottery picks, you know. Coach Izzo did it right. He got them punching inside. They buried us. We weren’t strong enough. You want the guys to compete. When I went in the locker room, I put our non-conference schedule record up, and I put our conference schedule record up and I put our potential postseason record up, which is one game.

You know, in the postseason we’ve got one game and we’ve got 16 games that we’ve got to be there. We’ve got to focus on a 16 game schedule. For us, non-conference is like a bad case of diarrhea. You hope that it gets over and be done with it and we move on to our conference. I tell our players that’s what they pay me for. They pay me for being effective and competitive. I’m not effective and competitive then I don’t need the job.

Sophomore guard Cassius Winston  

On three different guys having double-doubles today…
We’ve got a well-rounded, talented team. We got a lot of pieces and talented players. The fact that we all work together for each of us to get into double figures says a lot. It is not one person stealing the show or taking control of the ball, we are moving it and letting everyone get involved. 

On ending the game with a 32-0 run… 
Their team shot a lot of 3s, so once we pressed up on the 3-point line they were going to miss some shots and we grabbed every rebound. That is big. They don’t get any second opportunities and now we are on the fast break getting easy shots.  

On the second-half focus…
We are proving ourselves. Each and every one of us  has something to prove every night and that is how we go out there to play. First half we might have looked at the opponent and didn’t have that pop and energy that is going to take us to a great team, second half we came into focus that we need to get better and get better as a team.  

Sophomore forward Nick Ward

On today’s performance…
I give it my all every possession and do what I can.  

On finishing the game on a 32-0 run… 
We upped the tempo. We were playing their speed, we were turning the ball over and not playing Spartan basketball at first, but the second half we kicked it in.  

On what to improve on at the start of the game… 
We have to start off early. We have to put our foot on the gas early. We started off relaxed and we cannot do that. We have to continue to improve

Most important thing heading into Big Ten games… 
Keep focused, keep getting better, and let’s win the Big Ten games.  

Sophomore guard/forward Miles Bridges

On his 21-rebound performance… 
I just give all the credit to my teammates. We did a good job on the defensive end. They were missing long 3s because of our defense, so I was able to get in there and get some rebounds.  

On a history fourth-straight win while scoring 100+ points…
Again, it starts with our defense and rebounding. We can’t get off to a fast start offensively if  we are not playing defense or rebounding. It all starts on the other end of the floor.   

On locking down on 3s in the second half… 
Yea, Coach really got on us about them hitting 3s. Once we came back we figured we were not going to let them hit any more 3s because that is what teams do when they want to upset other teams. We were only up by 13, so we really focused on that which got our offense going.  

On the amount of turnovers early…
We were being casual with the ball and they were putting pressure on us. It was hard for us to get going but once we calmed down we were able to get the ball moving and stay out of turnovers.         



 

 

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