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


March 20, 2008

Tom Izzo

Raymar Morgan

Drew Neitzel

Travis Walton


THE MODERATOR: Joined now by Michigan State University. Coach, if you want to just begin with some general comments on the game.
COACH IZZO: Well, if you would have told me that Drew and Kalin would have gone four for, whatever, 17, 18, I thought we'd be in trouble. But I think the credit goes to maybe Drew's defense, Kalin's defense, Travis's defense, Raymar's all around play. I think he did some things, got us going early, made some plays, got some big rebounds.
The defensive job we did on Christmas, you know, I think Christmas had some shots, just like Drew did, they just didn't fall today. I think he's a heck of a player, boy. But we did a heck of a job on him. We couldn't quite contain Tyndale down the stretch. But I thought defensively for the most part we were as good as we've been in a long time.
Offensively our execution was very good. We just missed some shots. I was very pleased with both ends of the court.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Raymar, you seemed really aggressive early on. Was that partly because you felt in the Big-10 tournament you were a little passive?
RAYMAR MORGAN: Definitely. I think my teammates did a great job in getting me the ball, places where I could create and make plays.
I just tried to stay aggressive throughout the whole game.

Q. Raymar, it looked like you were on Christmas for a good portion of the game. Talk about your mindset about how you played him.
RAYMAR MORGAN: I just tried to press up on him a little bit. Keep a hand in his face. He's a great shooter. He can shoot from deep. I also have to thank my teammates. We used six eyes, which about three players contain one player. We did a great job overall team-wise for defense.

Q. Drew, talk about what was going through your mind when you weren't getting shots or not scoring in the first half. Any disappointment at not lighting it up the way you did the last couple?
DREW NEITZEL: Well, as a shooter, you always want to make shots.
But coming out of the game, I had some open shots early, first five minutes of the game. They just didn't fall. Then they started tightening up on me, taking me away a little bit. That's when we made some adjustments and those slips to the basket were wide open. Our big guys got some open dunks in there. The coaching staff did a great job of making some adjustments.
As a shooter, you just got to keep shooting, keep your confidence. I'm glad we won so I get another chance to redeem myself on Saturday.

Q. Drew, can you talk along those lines about you having a more balanced scoring attack this year?
DREW NEITZEL: I think it showed today, whether it was Raymar, everybody stepped up. Our big guys inside, everybody made plays, made some baskets. Our freshmen played extremely well for their first NCAA tournament game.
It's just been a great team effort. If I'm having a bad game, somebody a lot of times is picking up the slack. I think that's a bonus and something that can help us make a deep run in this tournament.

Q. Drew, your coach has had a lot of great runs going through the NCAA tournament. What does he do to get you prepared for this thing special?
DREW NEITZEL: I don't know. I just think he has that experience. And you can't take that away or anything. He just does a great job. You know, he's had a plan, and it's worked throughout the years, so he doesn't change it.
You know, the players that have been in the program get that experience and they help the younger guys out. It's just a process that goes down the line year after year. You know, he does a great job, the coaching staff does a great job of scouting, preparation for the games. That's where I think we pick up a lot of ground.

Q. There have been times this year where Drew has had off nights and no one else has picked up the slack. How crucial was this game for you knowing he had an off night and everybody else stepped it up?
RAYMAR MORGAN: Well, it was really crucial. If nobody else picks it up, we gonna lose. I think it was very important for other people to just step up, keep encouraging Drew, keep shooting, things of that nature.
But it was just an overall team effort.
TRAVIS WALTON: Yeah, you know, when Drew ain't shooting as well, you know, he do different things for us, you know, as far as making the pass, you know, for the slips, or playing great defense like he did today.
And, you know, Raymar step up, our freshmen step up and make big plays for us. Some of our bigs come down and make free throws for us, make shots. That's why we a team.

Q. Christmas came in averaging 20 a game, Tyndale about 16, 36 points a game. You held them to two in the first half. Talk about how that set the tone for the game and the emphasis on it coming into this one?
TRAVIS WALTON: First off, our coaches do a great job of scouting other team. We know all they plays, tendency of what they like to do. Our teammates do a great job of helping. We have six eyes on him. Raymar started up on him and did a great job and then Kalin and Drew, you know, so every player we had did a great job on him. Our bigs did a great job, when they did attack us, protecting the rim, making the shots tough for them. They're two great players. Today was an off night for Christmas at the end, Tyndale kind of got it going.

Q. Even though you have gone through a full season conference tournament and all that, you are a pretty young team. It was their first NCAA tournament game. Did you talk to them about what to expect? What was that process like getting ready for it?
DREW NEITZEL: Yeah, I definitely shared my experiences with everybody on the team. You know, I've been in every situation in this tournament, starting in a Final Four to going out in the first round.
I just talked about, you know, focusing on the details. Every little thing is magnified in this tournament. It comes down to the little things. Every possession matters. The free throw, turning the ball over. Just try to talk to them, get through the sense of urgency you have to have and the focus coming into this tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. We'll let you go.
Questions for Coach Izzo.

Q. How important were the freshmen today? Did Allen and Summers earn more time or did you go into this game expecting to give them more time?
COACH IZZO: A little bit of both. Didn't want to talk about the altitude, didn't want to talk about the 10:30 in the morning. But we did want to talk about their two players, Tyndale and Christmas, playing 37, 38 minutes a game. We thought if we could keep some pressure on them, wear them down a little bit, keep playing some guys, that would work to our advantage.
They did play very well. You know, Kalin, all those guys did a better job, like Travis said. Even though Kalin and Drew weren't shooting as well, they did some things, and that's how we got some of those open buckets.
Thought Neitzel was the best he's been defensively. Lucas did a pretty good job defensively, too. You know, for Allen and Summers, those guys haven't been stalwart defenders. I thought they did a better job. Maybe they got the message we gave them and they gave them, it's one-and-done time, and things have to change.

Q. Drew put you guys on the shoulders in the Big-10 tournament. How important was this that everybody else stepped up?
COACH IZZO: I'm feeling bad for him because he's been shooting it so good. His confidence at such a high level. I thought we had some good shots early. I did think their defense got better as it went, too. He's been making all those shots.
So, you know, a little concerning. It was nice to get Raymar off. We tried to post him up early, tried to do some different things. When you play teams that know every piece of gum you chew, it's a little bit better, a little easier. I just thought it was so important that we got some other guys playing. Walton did his job, you know, milking free throws. Some show up in the stats, some don't. But there were nine or 10 guys that were responsible for this win.

Q. Talk about the ball movement offensively and also the poise against the press late in the game.
COACH IZZO: Well, I did think we did a great job of moving the ball early. We were getting an extra pass. We started off the second half with a back door. I thought Drew was going to get it. He dumps it to Naymick. We looked like a basketball team, 19 assists, 26 baskets. That says a lot about your team. You know, after that debacle at Ohio State when we turned the ball over 20 some times against their press, I think we've done a much, much better job. The players have done, but maybe some of the blame has to go to me there. We have spent more time on it and we're doing a better job against it.

Q. Back to that very first possession, you went down to Raymar in the post. Trying to build some confidence and get him going early after the rough games he had?
COACH IZZO: We thought two things. Number one, we get the ball in there to him. We thought one of those two guys, Tyndale or Christmas, would be on him, and maybe we could get them in foul trouble. We did want to go in there. It was a great play, great feed by G, a very good shot by Raymar.

Q. Raymar mentioned the six eyes defense. Can you explain that a little bit. Was Raymar the main guy on Christmas for most of the game?
COACH IZZO: He was. Travis did some work on him, too. Even Drew did, too, a little bit.
The six eye, a takeoff of the Jordan rules. He gets the ball, the Pistons did such a good job of kind of putting a guy on him. They had their own rules. It was just something we stole from somebody. We did steal that from the Pistons. We've used it for three or four years on prolific scorers that also are good penetrators. They get to the line and we felt like keeping them off the line was really important. And that's why a couple of plays we made that were fouls off the ball were really upsetting because we knew they're a 75, 76% free-throw shooting team. Actually missed a few more today than they normally do.

Q. Could you talk about the play of your big men. Naymick played a big role, Suton. How important were they today to your win?
COACH IZZO: I have to watch what I say. Those two guys were pretty good at times. A different planet a couple times. You know, they did a pretty good job.
But we have to have improvement there. G early was really struggling. He did rebound. But, you know, another missed layup or two, just some turnovers. I didn't think that was the strength of our game. But Naymick did a lot better job the second half, rebounded better. G did rebound pretty well. Naymick got a lot of his on those slip plays.
Made some progress. Got some work to do.

Q. For those people out here who haven't seen you play before, were impressed with your defense, can you talk a little bit about where you base your defensive philosophy from, where did you get it at?
COACH IZZO: Well, you know, I just listen to everybody. I've been around guys that won championships, like Larry Brown, of course Chuck Daly. You know, I'm a big football fan. You watch all those teams that win championships. They're always the best defensive teams.
The philosophy I probably got from Judd Heathcoat. We're going to play solid. We don't press a lot and trap a lot. We're just a very solid defensive team usually. We've done a pretty good job all year, the last two years, in fact, if not for turnovers, I think we'd be maybe one of the best around. Sometimes turnovers lead to those layups.
I mean, Judd definitely one. Then the guys that won championships, you know, had so much success in our state, like Chuck and Larry Brown. You just kind of see what they do.
The Pistons, when I was first there with Joe Dumars and those guys, they were an unbelievable defensive team. They were very physical. I just loved the way they played, got the six eyes from Daly. He probably doesn't even know it. Again, like all coaches do, we steal from anybody that we can.

Q. Did something happen to Marquis in that first couple minutes?
COACH IZZO: Yeah (smiling). To be honest with you, we didn't even know if Marquis could play today. He has a bad sprained toe. He didn't practice yesterday. He's had something.
But we told him if he can't get to the offensive boards, we just can't play him, because that's his strength. First couple times he didn't get there. Not all his fault, to be honest with you. He has been injured in the last three days. I don't think it's broke, but it's badly sprained. So hopefully we can get him some rest and get him back. We are going to need another body when you see these guys play.

Q. You've touched on it a little bit. Could you just address a little more how much of a positive it is to have a win like this when Neitzel is not on?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think it's really important. It's important for our present and our future.
But don't kid yourself, Drew Neitzel is still very valuable in different ways, how they played him, what they did. We are going to need him if we're going to get anywhere in this tournament past the first game.
But at the same time I think it's really good because he was still a cheerleader in the huddle. Down that he's missing some shots. He thought some of them were open shots. But at the same time you got to give them credit. They did a pretty good job second half.
So, you know, getting our young freshmen some more, Raymar more involved, Naymick, some of our big guys a little bit more involved, that's going to do nothing but benefit us.

Q. You mentioned this being the one-and-done situation, but also said some things have to change. What are you referring to that you wanted your team to be doing better?
COACH IZZO: Our bigs early were not very good. They've got to be better. G, I don't know, he was just kind of out of it early. We got him in and out, in and out. We've got to do a better job there. I think we got to do a better job of finishing games still. I mean, we finished it. I think you got to give them a lot of credit. Fran is just a hell of a coach. Those kids, I really enjoyed talking with a few of them. But watching them play. We knew they'd come back. Anybody can shoot the threes. I didn't think we handled some situations. We got it a across in the press, about you a couple of them were real close calls, maybe took some shots when we shouldn't have. But we had three freshmen in there at one time. Can't blame them.
So, you know, there were some things I think we can learn, and it's always good if you can learn after a win compared to learning after a loss.

Q. You mentioned as good a defense as you have played in a while. Where did it come from? Is it time of the year? Emphasis, necessity?
COACH IZZO: It was Christmas. We knew if we didn't guard Christmas, we were going home is what it was.
I was so impressed. I wouldn't have called them beating us a big upset because I don't think there are major upsets right now, 1 through 12, they are a 1 but 3 through 12, that's a very good Temple team.
We knew one way they can beat you for sure is with the three. We had to do a better job up top. That's where we gave up some early. I thought their kid inside did a pretty good job early, Olmos. We just knew we had to defend. We've gotten to the point where we aren't as consistent offensively. We're still shooting the ball pretty well, but not as consistent. I think the players realize in one-and-done time, you got to make sure you cover all bases.
Like I said, in closing, I really think we played well, but I really think we beat a very good team that didn't play as well. They didn't make some shots that I think I've seen them make on film.
I know that happens to us. But that's gonna be a great team in the future.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, coach.
COACH IZZO: Thank you.

End of FastScripts
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