home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


April 4, 2015

Branden Dawson

Tom Izzo

Travis Trice

Denzel Valentine


Duke - 81
Michigan State - 61

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Michigan State student-athletes. We'll start with questions.

Q. Denzel, when you came off the court there, you had a conversation with Coach Izzo for a little bit right at the end of the game. What was talked about there?
DENZEL VALENTINE: I just looked at him, I said, I'm going to get you here next year, coach. It was a heck of a run. I'm just mad we lost because of BJ, Trav, what they've been through, what we've been through as a team this season. We got to tip our hat off to Duke. They were the better team today.

Q. Denzel, you came out so hot, then one field goal attempt over the next 12 minutes. What was going on?
DENZEL VALENTINE: They did a good job of taking me away. I got hot. They started denying a little bit, started forcing us to take bad shots. Next thing you know, they had a lead.

Q. After that hot start, what did Duke do different defensively?
BRANDEN DAWSON: I think as far as Travis and Denzel and Bryn, they were just running those guys off the screens. I know they -- they just played great defense, like Denzel said. In the first half, the opening of the game, he had some great looks. They came back and played good.

TRAVIS TRICE: They were denying us on the wings, kind of turning us down. Any time they had an opportunity, they switched. That's what made it rough for us to get it on the wings.

DENZEL VALENTINE: They did a good job of denying us, forcing us out. We took some bad shots, had some bad turnovers. That was the difference in the game.

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Izzo. We'll ask coach for a statement.

COACH IZZO: Well, we got beat. Unfortunately I thought Duke played awfully well, but I thought it wasn't one of our better games. I think they deserve some credit. Yet I feel bad because I didn't think people got to see the team that has won 12 out of the last 15 games. Give Duke credit and give our seniors credit for getting us to a place that most people didn't think we'd get to.

THE MODERATOR: We'll go back to questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Branden, what made Okafor so effective today?
BRANDEN DAWSON: You know, just his position in the post. Jahlil, he's an elite player. Every time he got the ball, he just made a great move. Everyone talk about what can we do to stop him. He's a good player so he's going to score. He established position in the post and he made some great post moves.

Q. Denzel, did the early success you had from deep play a factor in the way you approached the game the rest of the way?
DENZEL VALENTINE: I had some great looks in the beginning of the game. After the first media timeout, they did a good job of making adjustments of taking me out. It forced us to shoot some bad shots. We had some bad plays, led to turnovers. You know, we kind of beat ourselves in the first half.

Q. Travis, as the game was unfolding, what kind of adjustments did you try to make in terms of handling the pressure? Did the halfcourt pressure surprise you at all?
TRAVIS TRICE: Our main problem in the first half was we were starting our offense out too far. Most of that was my fault. It was kind of getting us out of our rhythm. It forced us into bad shots because we were so late in the shot clock, we're 40, 50 feet from the rim. We got pushed out too far. We should have started our offense in closer.

Q. You were talking about the turnovers you had. The most you had since January. Talk about why this team has been successful without the turnovers and really what happened with the turnovers that led the other way?
TRAVIS TRICE: I think trying to force the issue. A lot of our turnovers were really unforced. They were kind of on us trying to make the extra play or make the home run play. I think that came to bite us tonight. Usually we don't do that.

DENZEL VALENTINE: Yeah, you know, they did a good job of taking us away, denying us. I think we got kind of frustrated the first half. We didn't keep our cool a little bit. Led to turnovers and bad shots.

Q. How much has Duke improved since you played them back in November, and what things specifically?
BRANDEN DAWSON: Well, I think Duke, since the first time we played them, I think they got a lot better defensively. They really don't make a lot of mistakes. They take care of the ball. Like coach said, we play a good team like this, you just have to play smart. I think as far as them being a lot better, I think they're the same. I think they're playing a lot better defensively.

Q. Branden, those two quick fouls in the second half, how frustrating is it to, bang bang, have to be out of the game for a stretch there?
BRANDEN DAWSON: It's frustrating. I mean, to pick up two quick fouls, you know, it just hurt. We fouled way too much. It really just was frustrating.

Q. Trav, what impressed you the most about Winslow and Okafor? The stage didn't seem to bother them at all.
TRAVIS TRICE: I think just their maturity. They didn't get rattled at all, even when we went on our run early on. They just kind of stuck to their game plan.

Q. You probably thought you'd need to have maybe your best game to beat a good Duke team. How far was this, in your opinion, from your best game?
DENZEL VALENTINE: We could have played better. But honestly it was just the times that we made bad plays that hurt us. You know, in the first half, we had turnovers and then some bad shots, then they go on a run. Then it was right before half. They had all the momentum. Then in the second half, they came out and scored a quick bucket and we missed a shot. They came out and got a bucket. It was just bad timing of how we played, you know, that hurt us.

TRAVIS TRICE: Yeah, I don't think we had our best games all around. But like Denzel said, they capitalized on our mistakes. Anytime we made one, they made us pay for it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. Questions for Coach Izzo.

Q. As Denzel came off the court, you talked for a while. He said it was about promising to get you back here. What did you talk to him about?
COACH IZZO: It's interesting to listen to the questions. You know, you can blame me for Okafor, because personally that's exactly what we wanted to do, if we could hold him to under 20 points, take away their threes, we did exactly what we wanted to do to be honest with you. He got a couple, the two breakaway ones. In the halfcourt, I thought we did a decent job on him. This whole game came down to two things in that first half, we took a couple bad shots, those were like turnovers. We didn't do as good a job in our transition D and we got in foul trouble and we had different lineups in there. The foul trouble, I got to do a better job of coaching. It's the way it's going to be called. I got to do a better job of recruiting because I'm just going to get guys that can drive. That's the way the game has changed. I give Winslow credit. But he's five for seven. It's the free throws that killed us. So I wouldn't change how we guarded him as far as what we wanted to do. We didn't double much. We dug a little bit on him. Considering we had some guys in foul trouble and we had our doctor, Colby in there, the kid is a player. That's not what beat us. What beat us is the free throws and the turnovers. At halftime, we had two assists. We've been ranked in the top of the country in assists all year. I thought that was our fault. We moved the ball good early, a lot of good things happened. We got caught making a couple of unforced plays, that was the difference in the game.

Q. Tom, you mentioned the foul trouble, particularly with your bigs. Can you delve a little bit into how that impacted what you wanted to do against Duke.
COACH IZZO: Well, we wanted to take better shots. We had a hell of a week of practice. Went into this game believing we could win, thinking we were going to win, just because the way we practiced. You're not going to give up 37 free throws. Let's be real, at the end we fouled some. At the heart of it, the 12 for 16 in the first half, we're just not deep enough with talent that we could overcome that. Trav has been so good all year. I think he was being modest. I did not think we played very well. I think Duke had something to do with that, and Michigan State had something to do with that. You can't sit there, and the way we played these last 15 games, we moved that ball early, we got a lot of good shots. We just kind of settled. We kind of settled. That was disappointing. But we got beat by a good team, too.

Q. You said you're going to have to recruit different players if this is the way the game is going to be called.
COACH IZZO: I think it's just a drive and get fouled. You know, you're not allowed to touch anybody anymore. I was here when we had smash mouth basketball. I totally agree. I don't think that's the right way to do it. But I also don't think -- I don't think anybody wants to see the best players on the bench. I mean, I don't blame the officials. I blame me. I'm on the board. It's not as much fun to coach when you're constantly telling guys, Don't touch 'em, don't move. We had some fouls we deserved, but there were to me probably some right calls, but bizarre. I don't want to complain about the fouls anymore. We got our butts beat. I still say most of it was our fault. They didn't turn the ball over, the officials or the rules. They didn't take bad shots. That was us. We did. As proud as I am of my team, I'm disappointed about that. That's just the way it is. I'm not wired real good to say that we did everything right and Duke just played good. Duke played good, Michigan State didn't play good. There are reasons both ways.

Q. After your hot start, Duke started switching defenses, they went some zone, some press. Do you think that led to a little bit of confusion? Did that hurt your offense and stagnate it a little bit?
COACH IZZO: It might have. If that's what led to the bad shots, then I'd say yes. Three of those shots were with 30 seconds left on the shot clock. We weren't forced to do it. It was our choice. I felt like we panicked a little bit because maybe certain guys that had been shooting well didn't get shots. I thought they did a good job of taking that away. I don't know. You know, the changing defenses didn't really bother us. I mean, team presses, you can't take the ball out and say, Here, and throw it to them. That's kind of ridiculous. I think it caught up with us a little bit. We're not real deep in talent. But we'll get more. We'll be better.

Q. What was the message right after the game to the team?
COACH IZZO: How proud I was of them. This team, you know, they took a lot this year, from our own fans at times, from people. I understand why. But this team played pretty well all year. We just missed a lot of free throws early. I kept saying that. I don't think anybody was drinking the Kool-Aid, but I was. And thank God I was, because I think that kept our head above water to be able to explain that. We've done this right, this right, this right. By the way, this really wrong. Not wrong, really wrong. You know, I think our defense let us down a little bit today. Maybe it's because of their good offense. I love Okafor. I think Winslow. But my favorite player on the team is Cook. He had a couple of breakaways, too, where they just threw it long. He didn't hit many shots in the corners. The things we wanted to take away, I think we did a decent job of. We just fouled too much. That put us in foul trouble. They didn't miss many free throws in the first half, and that was the difference.


COACH IZZO: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297