Tom Izzo Weekly Press Conference Coverage
Senior All-America forward Draymond Green also meets with the media before the Spartans leave for Phoenix on Monday night.
March 19, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Prior to leaving for Phoenix and the NCAA West Regional Monday night, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and senior All-America forward Draymond Green met with reporters to talk about the Sweet 16 matchup against fourth-seeded Louisville. The top-seeded Spartans (29-7) will meet the Cardinals (28-9) Thursday in Phoenix at 7:47 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on TBS.
COACH IZZO: Well, as you know, it's my favorite time of year to play. It's kind of ironic when I look at the two teams and see some of the similarities. It's interesting that Kentucky's leading the country in field goal defense percentage, and I think us and Louisville are tied for second. Doesn't seem to change no matter what sport, no matter what we talk about it, those are always common dominators.
As you know, we played them in 2009, haven't played them since. So we kind of have an idea what they do with different personnel. They have an idea what we do. I think the only guy to play in that game with any significant minutes was Draymond. But he did play a lot, because that's when Raymar broke his nose and had the foul trouble and things like that.
But I think the real resurgence in our group right now in this post season play, you know, Draymond is shooting off the charts. Shooting I think over 57% in the tournament...We've also gotten some improved play out of Thornton, shooting 50 something percent from the 3 and Nix, Payne. We don't look at it as a big deal, but when they're combining for 21 points and 10 rebounds, it's still the center position. So we've gotten a lot out of that.
The field goal percentage, as I said, about Louisville is good. They create a lot of turnovers. They're a pressing team, create 16 turnovers a game, average nine steals a game. They've been a hot team, winning four days in the Big East tournament, and yet I'd say we've been kind of a hot team now lately, too. I'm just proud of where we are and what we've done, get to another Sweet 16. It was a war of a game. I think we learned a lot. I think we're going to grow from that. I think our young guys are going to grow. I think other than a little tough trip back, it was a great weekend for us. So whatever questions, you got me up here for the whole time.
Q. Sweet 16 isn't the goal, but what does it mean that you have been to 10 of 15, only Duke has more? This is a unique turnaround, Sunday to Thursday. What challenges does that present?
COACH IZZO: It is a unique turnaround and we were hoping to get back early last night. We had over two hours delay in Columbus.
But I don't think we've done this (turnaround). Always looking for something new, and this is something new. I don't think it creates a world of difference, especially going out a little early. Guys are in class now, we'll have practice, then going out tonight. We'll get some time for more meetings and things when we get there.
But it is a little different. I think in their (Louisville's) case, they were already out there and they played on Saturday. But I don't think at this time of year it's that big of a difference as far as the Sweet 16 games.
It's fun to be where some of the great programs are and I guess consistency is what we've always looked for. We have some consistency going, at least so far.
Q. You've been able to maintain consistency throughout all these years in the NCAA Tournament without suffering a major upset. What has led to avoiding a major upset?
COACH IZZO: Maybe that kind of level (a No. 15 seed beating a No. 2 seed). Although a couple years ago (2006), when it was George Mason, although they ended up in the Final Four, it was a 3 14. Oh, it was 6 11, you're right. Not as bad as I thought.
You know, I don't know why we've been able to. For the most part some of those programs that did it, I mean, Duke hasn't done it very often where they've lost either. I think that speaks about some leadership, I really do. Because when you go to these tournaments and you get in those hotels, that's where all the distractions start. That's the problem. If you don't have good leadership in the hotels, parents come, aunts and uncles come, I'm sure there's agents swarming around hotels, just alums in general.
I think we've stayed pretty focused because of the way we do it maybe with our short sessions. We're always keeping them somewhat near. I think our leadership has been good most years. That's why we've had some success.
Q. Do you expect Louisville to press?
COACH IZZO: Yeah, I do. I mean, this is not the greatest shooting Louisville team, so they score a lot of points off their press, off their defense. I think they'll press us a lot, I really do.
I don't think they'll change what they've done. It's kind of a matchup zone. It's a zone/man. We call it 'you pick 'em'. That will be the hardest thing for us to adjust to, I think. It's kind of a completely different zone than most we've ever faced, different than the one there was in '09. Starts out similar, but it changes. Look at their field goal percentage, it's been successful for them.
Q. Do you draw on anything from the 2009 game that you played them at all, playing a Rick Pitino team?
COACH IZZO: Well, I mean, everybody does what they do. I'm sure they know what things to work on for us.
But, I mean, we know he's going to press. We know they're going to play a lot of zone. Their offense has changed a little bit, but I think for the most part you do get to know programs, and I think these guys have had success for a long time. They tweak their systems, but they don't change them all the time.
So, you know, unless we can bring (Goran) Suton back, '09 does very little for us except makes us realize where we can attack some things. But they are playing that zone a little different than they did then.
Q. Austin (Thornton) said he struggled through migraines again through the weekend, but he's been shooting the ball well. Would you like to get him more shots?
COACH IZZO: I think one thing I haven't liked about our offense, even though we've shot the ball extremely well, we're not getting enough shots up. I don't even know if we're averaging 50 shots a game. I'd like that to be closer to 56, 57 shots a game. You talk about five, six more shots, it can make a big difference.
But I would like to get (Brandon) Wood and Thornton a few more shots. This was a unique game with (Keith) Appling getting 14. That's a lot for a point guard anywhere. But we do need to get Thornton and Wood a few more shots, if you ask me. Some of that would be on the break.
I thought, if I look back on yesterday, the poorest thing we did yesterday was break. We looked like we were in quicksand, Draymond looked like he was in quicksand early. We were not a very aggressive team early on. If it was fatigue, nervousness, I don't know what it was, but we looked a little tired. We played a little tired. We did not push the ball. Our bigs didn't run. Our wings didn't run as well.
So that's an area we're going to try to shore up and get a little more consistent running, and that will help us get some more shots up, which might help give Thornton a few more shots. Shooting 53% from the 3 in the last eight or 10 games.
Q. The Thornton deal, have the doctors said anything about why he's getting these migraines? What are they trying to do for him?
COACH IZZO: No, he keeps getting knocked around. That doesn't help. He got bumped in the head. He got nailed in the head in practice the day before the game. Draymond just went to move and hit him right in the nose. They thought his nose was broke.
My dad had migraine headaches for 10 years. People get 'em. But it's been hard on him, it really has. I don't think you all or we even realize how tough that's been on him. Kind of shows a little bit about his character because he just practices through them, plays through them. Some days are better than others. No real reasons.
Q. Also Nix and Payne and their effectiveness, do you think they benefit from the fact they bring different types of qualities to the floor?
COACH IZZO: I do. I think you can't prepare for certain things. I mean, you got one more athletic, steps out a little bit more. You got one bruiser inside. They've been a great complement to each other.
I think sustaining things is what I would like to see out of those two guys. For a while yesterday Nix was good offensively and average defensively. Payne was good defensively and average offensively. I would like to get them to where they were the night before, they were good offensively and defensively and both rebounded well. Yesterday Payne rebounded well, Nix didn't, but Nix was so good offensively.
But it's nice to be able to go back and forth. I still think, as I look at Derrick, the exciting part is if I can get him enough rest, probably isn't going to happen this year, but I told you early in this season that I was afraid he might wear down as it goes because of what he went through from April through September or October. There's definitely times where he's chugging along a little bit now.
So he's aware of it. It's not like he gets tired with his lungs, but I think he gets tired with his body sometimes. So this little break will help a little bit. We'll have to try to make sure we get him back.
Q. Where is Trice right now? I know you're probably going to need him a lot in this game. Where do you think he is physically and mentally? And also going back to the pressing, you said you expect them to press. In '09, they really didn't do that a lot.
COACH IZZO: We attacked it and we didn't turn it over early, so they backed off it. I think they have a different kind of team now. They had four pros on that team. They could beat you other ways. This team I think does try to beat you off their defense a little bit more than that team did in looking back.
But, you know, in Trice and Kearney, they're both real critical I think to us right now. Trice is not where he was before his groin injury. He said to me last night, God, I felt so confident, and now I just feel like I'm not there. His wind is just coming back from that time off.
But he is getting better. I don't think it was anything but maybe a little bit of nervousness yesterday by both of them on maybe why they struggled. Like I said, that's pretty normal, pretty natural when you get into that kind of setting, because they made some mistakes on switches and on things like that that they haven't made all year. It wasn't really as much effort related as it was thinking related.
You always get to this time of year, you know, freshmen all over the country sometimes struggle. But I think yesterday was a great day, as I told you after, because we were able to have a learning day and still win. Usually you can only learn because something bad happens, you lose the game, then you got to wait a whole year.
We had a good meeting when we got back here last night and talked about all those things that we got to kind of handle, including the hype of everything and how it now magnifies.
I think it was very good. So I think both those guys will be great mentally and hopefully well physically as far as being able to do what they need to do to help us win.
Q. You joked yesterday about bringing in some football players to try to simulate the speed and athleticism of Louisville. Obviously you can't do that. Do you have any gimmicks that you plan to use?
COACH IZZO: You know, I really did think about doing it today. I don't feel we can go hard today after what we've been through in the travel and everything. We're going to go short today. But I really would have tried to call over and get a couple guys maybe to come over and press us and things like that. What we normally do, and we don't have that, is go with six or seven guys. With this year's team we might have to go seven or eight guys. We might have to pick it up a little bit.
Q. (Regarding Derrick Nix), his facial expression, a lot of times he really looked frustrated.
COACH IZZO: I think he was frustrated because I think he thought he was getting fouled in there. You get a couple cheap fouls. You know, that's part of things. Guys got to grow up and learn how to handle that. For the most part he handles it pretty well.
But it was a slugfest. I've been in a lot of tough games. But that was one of the tougher games I've been in. I don't think everybody handled it quite right. We were concerned without B.J. that Evans was going to post us up. I think that hurt Kearney and Wood. He threw some guys around in there. But that's going to help us down the road now and definitely down the road a year from now.
Q. How do you feel Derrick handled it?
COACH IZZO: You know, Derrick is an emotional guy, too, like I am, like Day Day is at times. He's still going through his Day Day stage where he goes up and down a little bit.
I think he's improved so much in that area so much. I mean, he is really in tune in the huddles, he knows what's going on. He gets a little frustrated. As Day Day used to tell me, I'm the immaturity part of it, yet growth part of it, whatever you want to say.
I feel real good about those two guys. Even Payne. They've made monstrous progress, and yet got a long way to go. I would continue to remind you that Nix is in a unique situation. That kid has done something that few athletes have to do. I mean, he's played in a nine, nine and a half month season already. His workouts to lose that weight and stay in there, plus his workouts on his basketball stuff, but his other stuff, that's a season in its own. So he's had no breaks. Once in a while when he gets a little frustrated, I just write it off as that. But he's been really good, really good.
Q. Do you expect Louisville to play off of Appling or do you think that was a one game deal?
COACH IZZO: I hope they do. I mean, he scored 19. If they play off him, that's good for me.
But, you know, I think that was his way of figuring that they could hurt us, and Louisville plays a completely different style. If they do that, in all fairness to Keith, I don't know how as coaches we could have been prepared for something like that.
But, like Eric Snow said to me, Coach, I can help you with that. They did that to me four years in college, 10 years in the NBA, and there's ways around it. I think we learned some of them. Some are getting the inside out pass, some is cutting them through, some is getting them to the weak side.
If they do now, I say great. We've been there, done that. We'll have some things in to adjust to that. But I don't think Louisville will use the same kind of defense 'cause it's not like it took him away or our team away even though it maybe hurt us for a little bit of that game.
Q. Keith came here as a scoring sensation, converted to a point guard, has really played well on defense.
COACH IZZO: I think he said it pretty well. He was a guy that shot 41% last year. But he hasn't shot the ball as well. Maybe it is the adjustment of learning how to run a team and shoot, all the different things you got to do.
But I still say before he leaves he's going to be a great player because he can defend, and he's learning how to make decisions. That shot will come back. It's just been a little flat this year for some reason. When he shoots it, when he's thinking about it, he's got great arch and makes a lot of shots. When he's not, it flattens out a little bit.
But what he is, he's a competitor. He's a tough nut, he really is. I think because of that he'll even grow from last night. You know, there were so many things that were good for us last night. It was good to get punched in the mouth. We really did get punched in the mouth. You know, we probably wobbled a little bit, but I think we came back.
If we could have made some free throws down the stretch, we could have won it a little more solid than we did. Yet that run at the end when we're supposed to be switching five, supposed to be doing this, young guys just lost track for a minute. That will be another learning stage.
So this was one of the best learning games I've had since I've been here.
Q. Going back to Nix. His passing yesterday, when they started laying off Appling, his ability to pass out of the post, talk about the impact yesterday, also the efficiency of the offense by him having that ability.
COACH IZZO: Well, Nix is our second best passer. Out of the post, he might be our best passer. Day Day can do things both in the post and open floor.
What we've struggled with a little bit now is everybody starts playing you differently and finding that fine line when you pass out. He's almost got to make decisions like a point guard the way we've been going in there, the faith we have in him.
I think sometimes we could be passing out and we're not. There were some times early, remember he had layups and he's passing the ball out and I wanted to kill him. It's finding that happy medium, being in sync with everybody.
I think it's what people like, when we ran some of those screen and rolls with Draymond with Nix, you roll harder when you think you're going to get the ball, you spot up better. These guys have such an unselfish approach to the game right now and have had almost all year that I think it's really made us a better team than we maybe actually are.
Q. When Draymond came to you during the season, Player of the Year, All American hype was swirling around him. He says he wasn't himself. Was he worried about being complacent or surly, resting on his laurels. What was he going through?
COACH IZZO: I think, like everything, the social media I guess makes companies, but it kills teams. No matter what you say, there's nothing good about it.
Day Day is a Twitter guy. Like 99% of all 20 year olds, he is. But when you get on that thing, there's so many things coming at you, you're reading good and bad. Some people are jealous of you, some people aren't. Some people are telling you how great you are, and you're never that great. Some people are telling you how bad you are, you're never that bad. Just kind of getting perspective on it.
I think these are the first couple of years of that terrible disease that is in America right now. So we're learning how to adjust to it. I think me as a coach, him as a player. But I think he struggled with that a little bit.
Then there comes more pressure when you're being talked about with different people. When you move up from the back row to the front row, as you get closer to that front row, everybody will think it's so great, and it is great, but that is more pressure and more scrutiny, those kind of things.
It's great that he has enough confidence to come in and talk to you. Still I've always told him the story about Jason Richardson, where he was struggling at the end of the year, so many people calling him and bugging him. I asked him if he was okay. He said, Yeah. And then toward the very end, he said, No, I can't handle it anymore. It was a kind of a zoo. His play went down a little bit.
So I always tell our guys that story because we love J.R. and we've seen what he's accomplished. I think it's great that Day Day looks at something like that and says I'm going to nip it in the bud as best as I could and he said, Coach, can you help me? I helped as best as I could and called some other people to help. To me, that's what is great about here.
Q. How have you groomed Draymond for this moment and how much does it help you to have a coach on the floor?
COACH IZZO: Well, I don't know if I've groomed him. I don't think I can take a lot of credit for that. It's great to have a coach on the floor. But Day Day is what he is. He was that when he was a freshman. He just has some of those characteristics.
I think where he's grown is the immaturity. I heard him talk about yesterday he wasn't a very good practice player. He gave himself way too much credit on that statement, okay? Way too much. But he knew it. His mom said to me, He's never been a good practice player, he's got to practice harder.
What Day Day did is he figured out what goals he wanted to achieve, and then he put his trust in people that could help him achieve them. It wasn't just me. He really did. Each year he got better.
I mean, to me as I look at him now, I wouldn't have said this even a month ago, but he may be the best player in college basketball because of what he does. I mean, I know Kentucky, I know Kansas, I know the players they got. But if you talk about a guy that does more things, and we don't even get to the leadership stuff because coaches can't, media people voting around the country can't understand that, can't see that, they're not in the places where that happens. When you talk about defense, I'd be the first to tell you, he's not our best defender, but he might be by far our best cerebral defender, understanding the things, reminding guys who is going where, knowing all five positions. I mean, I think I've had some pretty good guys at that. I don't think I've ever had a guy like him. So when you talk about a valuable guy, this kid has done it all. And now what we got to do is make sure we just keep him grounded, because it is hard. It's not anything he's doing. It's hard to have everybody telling you you're good. Thank God for me, you know. Thank God. Because I try to tell him he's good, tell him he's got to get a lot better. For the most part it's worked pretty good. I think he understands where I'm coming from. I think I understand him pretty well because he shares things. He stops in. He texts. He calls. That's pretty good.
Q. What's your reaction to (incoming signee) Matt Costello winning Michigan Mr. Basketball?
COACH IZZO: I was ecstatic about it because it's always great to have the best player, at least the best voted player in your state, coming to your school. We've had quite a few Mr. Basketballs. The award is looked at a lot of different ways. I think one thing Costello has done is he's played in a pretty good league, put up impressive numbers both in his rebounding and his scoring. Great kid, great student. I'm thrilled about it, to be honest with you.
Q. I was curious if Rick Pitino is someone you either spoke to or thought about when you were making your NBA decision? What is your general relationship with him like?
COACH IZZO: I did talk to Rick a couple times during some of those decisions. If you remember, I think last time he went public, I didn't get to talk to him, that I'd be crazy or something.
I do respect what he's done. He's been to different levels. He's taken different teams. You know what he did at Providence, what he did at Kentucky. He's been an assistant, a pro coach. He's kind of gone the whole carrousel of coaching.
(Louisville) had some injuries early in the year. His teams are always competitive and they play hard, they play really hard. I've always had a good relationship with Rick. I have great respect for him.
Kind of a neat tournament for me, getting to know Jim (Ferry) a little bit, not knowing him from Brooklyn. Of course Rick Majerus I've known since the day I got out of college. Just a great guy, a great coach. Now you have Pitino. If he can win, it's (Billy) Donovan or Buzz (Williams). A lot of good coaches.
But the coaches don't matter, it's the teams that matter. So hopefully our teams will play well.
Q. Tom, you were talking about the learning points from yesterday. You talked about getting punched in the mouth, the defensive mistakes by the freshmen. Were there any other learning points you were talking about specifically?
COACH IZZO: I just think the growing up. We spend a lot of time telling players that one free throw, one missed switch, one missed uncontested three, one missed cutout can mean the game. Of course, we all know that. We all know that. As they say, coaches are always striving for perfection, something they're chasing that will never happen. But the closer it comes to that, the better chance you have of advancing in this tournament or winning championships in your league.
You know, you can have Magics, Smiths, you can have Michael Jordans, anybody else around the world talk to your guys, but until they go through it, it's like if we all think when we were 18 to 22, you definitely knew the world. Our parents were stupid. Coaches, you know, didn't know everything.
That is what we all go through. So I just was excited that we could have a moment when I could say, Look, if that free throw didn't go in, if that three that we had two times we were supposed to switch, we came out of a huddle and knew we were going to run this play, we didn't do this and that, if certain things didn't happen, we're sitting here, and Day Day and Austin and Wood and Ianni are done, you're going to feel bad that we made that mistake, so let's learn from it and try to figure out that that whole 40 minutes I better be glued into what's going on because one thing can change it.
I use so many examples, you know, our football game in Indianapolis, pro games, because it always comes down. One of the ones I talk about every single year is defense wins championships. Three of the 16 teams left are 1 2 2 in the defensive field goal percentage. There's certain things that never change. Some of those are those ones that we're trying to teach them.
Q. Rick Majerus said yesterday after the game that he did think Green was the best player in college basketball. If he was looking for potential, he would take Davis of Kentucky, but if he was looking to win a championship, he would take Green over everybody else.
COACH IZZO: That's kind of him to say. I appreciate that. Let me tell you, there's three or four guys out there, McDermott that I hear, Robinson and Davis, they're all great. But this is a collegiate award, not an NBA award. So we're not worried about potential. We're not worried about who is going to be the best pro. We're not worried about this and that.
I'm not Day Day's PR man, because he does a good enough job of that on his own. And I mean that in a good way. But I don't know many players over the years that I've seen do more things. I heard Shane Battier today on the radio. I think back to him, where he could hurt you with a pass. He became a very good 3 point shooter. I see some of Draymond in him. I see some of him in Draymond because he got better at things that he wasn't as good at. He could defend probably a little bit. Day Day probably rebounds better. But multi dimensional guys. I think there are better shot blockers, better low post scorers, but I'm not sure there's as many guys that can do as many different things.
I can promise you this, too: any award is important to any kid whether they tell you it is or not. But I do know which ones winning are more important than the others. In this case, if he could have the Wooden Award, Player of the Year, or get to a Final Four, wouldn't even be close, wouldn't even blink an eye at it. I say that not wondering.
Thanks. Enjoy the trip down there.
Q. Talk about what the Sweet 16 means to you. They don't hang banners for it. Three times for you here. What does making it to this level mean?
Draymond Green: You know, it's another opportunity to possibly reach a Final Four. We've never been excited about making it to Sweet 16s. It's just one of those bumps that you have to go through in order to make it to the final destination.
It's always a great honor. Maybe even after your career, people will look back on it, Sweet 16 is all fine and dandy, but at this point, you could even see it after our celebration after the game, the hugs, it's just another step in the road to get to where we're really trying to go.
Q. Today coach talked about how yesterday's game was a learning lesson for you, but you were able to do it in a positive way. How much do you think the young guys grew up and learned what it takes to win NCAA tournament games?
Draymond Green: I think they really grew up. To fight through some adversity at halftime, everybody responded, particularly B.K. (Brandan Kearney) and Travis (Trice). They didn't score or anything like that, but they made their presence felt on the game. They were very solid defensively. Trice did a better job of controlling of tempo when he was at the point.
Particularly for our young guys, they grew up. Keith as well. Keith started off struggling with the way they was playing him and different things. He got his head together and was able to make some things happen for us as well.
I think overall not even just our young guys, everybody grew up from that game yesterday. I think it can help us down the road.
Q. I don't know how much you've been able to look at Louisville or watch them. A few years ago they didn't press you too much in that game. Sounds like your coach expects a different kind of thing this year, more reliant on getting after people. Do you expect that? How do you handle that?
Draymond Green: We've been pretty good at breaking the presses over the years. This year we did get pressed. We're going to attack. A lot of people make a mistake. A lot of people just try to break the press. We're not just trying to break the press, we're going to make you pay for pressing us.
I think they are going to try to press us a lot more. This team is a little more reliant on pressing than the last team we played in '09 was. We expect them to come out and try to press us. We'll be prepared. We'll have multiple guys handling the ball. We really going to put an emphasis on that, taking care of the ball.
Q. You were one of the only guys on the team to play in the 2009 game. Do you take anything from playing a Rick Pitino team from 2009?
Draymond Green: I know they're really going to get after it defensively. That's one thing they did when I did play my freshman year. They got after it defensively. They're really going to push the tempo. That's not going to change. That's his philosophy. If I can take anything away from that '09 game it's going to be knowing the tempo of the game because they're going to try to push it. Last time they thought they were going to run us out the gym, we ran them out the gym. We have to make sure we're conscious of the tempo and make sure it plays into our hands and not into theirs.
Q. Kearney was emotional on the sideline when he came out of the game. Did you talk to him about that?
Draymond Green: I mean, I know what he was going through. I did talk to him about it. Just let him know, You have to be careful because we all know what was wrong with you. We know what was going on with you. We know you were upset with yourself. But it won't be perceived like that. Perception is reality. You have to be very careful of controlling your emotions and when you let your emotions out because it can look as you're coming off as a bad apple, bad teammate. It wasn't that. It was completely opposite.
Talked to him about channeling his emotions, knowing when to be so emotional, when you can let your emotions out. Although we all knew it was for the right reasons.
Q. You talked yesterday about how the hype was getting to you a little bit about the Player of the Year, All American stuff. How was that throwing you off?
Draymond Green: It wasn't affecting my play. Most people will get big headed by it. I felt like I had something really weighing on me, started kind of worrying about those things. When you hear about those things, I'm not really the type that's about individual awards, but those are great accomplishments. When you hear about those things, of course you want them to happen. I think I was starting to really think about those things too much. It still never comes before winning. It was kind of weighing on me all the time. I'm sitting there thinking what can possibly happen, what can possibly go wrong. It was really stopping me from being me, being the happy person that I am around my teammates, just always having a smile on my face. That's really what it was doing to me. It wasn't affecting my play or nothing like that, making me big headed. It felt like a weight on my shoulders. I've been fine with it ever since I talked to coach, not really worried about it.
Q. Do you hope the shot Keith made at the end will boost his confidence in terms of his jump shot?
Draymond Green: I know he'll be able to make them after making that shot. I just dare somebody to play him like Saint Louis did. If they play him like that, he's definitely going to knock down shots. He knocked down four or five jump shots yesterday. That's really what took us to getting the win, that was the difference in the game.
Q. About six years ago you and your teammates from Saginaw High played for the state championship. Can you talk about your journey.
Draymond Green: It's been an amazing journey, coming off two state championships, two straight Final Fours. Having the down year last year, kind of getting it back together this year. It's been a great journey.
Through it all I think the most important thing has been just becoming a man, aside of basketball, the Final Four banners, the Big Ten banners. I think the most important thing is the way Coach Izzo and his staff has helped develop me into a man. I think that's the thing I'm most proud of more than anything.
Q. Do you embrace the role of being the 'coach on the floor' and being a cerebral basketball player?
Draymond Green: I mean, that's just how I play. If I see something that I know I can help guys out, I'm going to help them out. You better be saying something than leaving something unsaid and wanting to say it later when it's too late.
That's the way I approach the game. With me having more experience than anybody else on my team, I know a few more things. I try to share those things. Coach always talks about a player coached team is better than a coach coached team. If that's his theory, let's make it happen.
Q. They used the pick and roll with the ball this last game. Is that something that's becoming a little bit more of a weapon, especially with you and Derrick have a good chemistry on that?
Draymond Green: Me and Derrick, the way he rolls, he carves out so much space when he rolls. Sometimes people use to switch it. If they switch it, I can break their big down. If they don't switch it, they're going to set enough screen where my man isn't going to get over it anyway.
I think that is something that works out pretty good for us. Of course, teams are trying to figure out how to guard it. There's so many options off it. People don't pay attention to it. The guards are still involved if needed. We've just been getting to the first option off of it. I think that is something great for us. A lot of teams probably will struggle with that. Thank you.
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