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March 12, 2010

Draymond Green

Tom Izzo

Raymar Morgan


Minnesota – 72
Michigan State - 67

THE MODERATOR: We'll ask coach to make an opening statement. Coach?
COACH IZZO: I'm so proud of the two guys next to me. And I'm happy for Tubby, because they deserved to win. He played -- we've had some tough games, and we've won a lot of those. And I think it proves they're a tournament team, and I hope they're in the tournament now because of maybe what they did, and then we'll get something out of this loss. We just didn't play very well. We didn't shoot the ball very well, and we really struggled to defend the first half.
Give them credit, the second half we started pounding it inside a little bit more and we defended a lot better. We found some lineups. But in fairness to our 18-of-34 from the line, that's never happened, it's my fault because I ran these guys into the ground. We don't do what Ohio State does. Give them credit. I played Kalin and these two guys just stretches that they were so tired by the end, they missed some free throws.
But the effort was there from them, and that's really all I care about right now, and we'll move forward.

Q. What can you learn from this loss?
RAYMAR MORGAN: I think we've just got to come out with better starts. Defensively we just weren't there early. They had some hit shots, and they made plays. I think we've just got to stick together as a team and just keep fighting.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Well, I mean, like Raymar said, we've just got to stick together. We're going to watch it on film. We know we made a lot of mistakes, learn from our mistakes and get ready to move on.

Q. Raymar, you hit the three-point play to start overtime. It looked like all the momentum was in your favor. Did you guys run out of legs or did those couple shots take some of the steam out of your legs there?
RAYMAR MORGAN: As a player and a competitor, during that time I don't think you can run out of legs. At that point in time, I think it's just all about heart. Those guys came right back in it, and I think Devoe Joseph hit a big-time three. We just never really bounced back. But in overtime it's gut-check time. There's really no excuses for the letdown we had. Hopefully we can learn from it, though.

Q. For either of the players, could you talk about Joseph's effort in the second half and in overtime? Do you guys feel like you were guarding him pretty well? Was he just making some pretty tough shots especially in overtime?
DRAYMOND GREEN: He did make some shots, but he put his team on his back and he carried them. He hit some tough shots, but tough shots or not, you still have to defend them. He hit some tough shots, and he wasn't doing that the first game we played them, nor was he doing it the second time we played them. But we knew he had improved since the last time we played them, and we had a game plan to stop them, but he hit some tough shots, and we just have to learn from it. Guys improve over the season. He wasn't that good. I mean, he probably was, but it wasn't showing. But now all this tournament it's showing, and you have to give them credit. I mean, he played like a warrior, and he rallied his troops, and they rallied behind him.

Q. I guess you and Colton Iverson weren't best buddies tonight, but can you talk about the play that he had on the interior tonight and the problems he caused for you guys?
DRAYMOND GREEN: He played great. I don't think we ever saw him play that great, but he played a great game. He's a competitor, and you have to give him credit. He was relentless tonight down low, and it took a while for us to find an answer for him, but maybe once we found the answer, it was a little too late.
Like I said before, we just have to learn from it. I mean, they were a little bigger than us, but at the same time, I think heart -- the guys of your heart, it doesn't matter what size. So he just made some tough plays and he made some good shots, and he was relentless on the boards and offensive rebounding. I pretty much think he was the X-factor of that game for them.

Q. It looks like you even have blood on your jersey. You've been as consistent and as team spirited and shown as much leadership as anybody on this team, but do you think you can get more out of other guys at this point in time knowing there might not be a whole lot of season left?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I know we can, and I know we're going to. Guys are going to step up, and for me and Raymar, I think we just have to keep doing what we've been doing. I know guys are going to step up. I know Kalin played better tonight than he's been playing. The rest of the guys are going to step up. I think Korie had a better game tonight. Guys are going to step up, and we're looking forward to it. We're looking forward to making a run.
I think this is a learned lesson for us. Now we can wipe our slate clean and just try to get this ship rolling.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach Izzo.

Q. The Ohio State game today was very close, Illinois needed to win. This factor of teams having to win versus teams that do not have to win. Does that factor in as the course of a game goes, at least as it starts in your opinion sometimes to the outcome?
COACH IZZO: I'm sure it factors in. I hope not because I hope our program and our team is more competitive than that. Every day you have something to prove, and we're playing for a lot, too, we're playing for a seed, we're playing for a championship. We're playing for all those fans that showed up tonight from a lot longer ways away from a lot of people came.
You know, we've just got a couple guys that have to realize that, you know, as I said tell in one and done time my bad goes out the door. You don't get to have bad moments. Guys, we missed lay-ups, breakaway lay-ups, we missed free throws, and I do give them a lot of credit. They hit some shots, but as good as Joseph played and he hit those two big daggers late, they were 4-for-14. They shot 38 percent. I mean, our defense was so bad early, and it was really a lot better the second half. So I hope that's not the case. As everybody knows, we haven't won a championship here in ten years. I get very -- I hear that a lot, and maybe because when I was a higher seed, but if that's the case, I'm going to vow next year to try to change that just like I have Big Ten Championship and Final Fours and everything else because that's a cop out. If you're going to lace them up, as Magic Johnson would say, we come from a place that one of the greatest competitors that ever lived is from, and if we are doing that, shame on us. Is desperation always a big factor for a lot of teams? Sure. I just hope that -- Illinois to me should have been in any way, and Minnesota now.
You know, Tubby deserves to be in. He's gone through a lot this year and got his team ready, and I give them all the credit and hope on Selection Sunday they show up.

Q. You told us on Tuesday you were galvanized, fired up. Did you see this coming? Did you have maybe --
COACH IZZO: I mean, let's face it, guys. They played well. I think he's right. You know, he hit a couple shots -- he hits that one coming off falling away in front of their bench, and he hits the one from four, five feet outside the three there with the shot clock running down. They made some shots. But you know, we just couldn't guard, and Chris Allen has become our best defensive player.
You know, the blame should go on, I guess, me and him there because I had to make a tough decision, and the problem when you make decisions is if you can just affect the player, it would be good. I just have trouble right now looking at Ray and Zeke [Isaiah Dahlman] because I had to make a decision that affected them. I don't really care about affecting me, but I do care about affecting them because I get another chance, they don't.
There are a lot of reasons we lost the game. We had our chance. We had our chance at the end of regulation. I thought we almost had a lay-up. We had a chance and we missed a lay-up. I'm going to go for a rule change on the blood thing, but that was amazing. We had our chances, and we didn't get it done.
You know what, we didn't deserve to beat them up there, they deserved to beat us, so maybe this is a pay-back because they earned the right to win.

Q. On your wings, would Chris have played tomorrow had you won? I assume he would have. And also, why was Summers not playing in the second half?
COACH IZZO: Whether Chris would have played, you know, I don't know that. That was something I'd think about after the game. I just needed somebody that, you know, could guard somebody, and I just -- between me and my assistants and some of my team, we just didn't see that. That's not why we lost, I can guarantee you that.

Q. You've always put a premium on leadership, and there really seemed to be a lack of it during crucial times tonight. Who's going to be that player, that guy in the NCAA Tournament who steps up and shows a leadership role?
COACH IZZO: Well, I don't think we're going to say shazam, it's going to happen in three days. But Draymond is our best leader. But I'll tell you something; I've been as critical and hard on him as anybody, but Raymar is really starting to step up. Some guys aren't great leaders, and if you're not, you've got to be a great follower, and you've got to be a great team guy, and Raymar is really, really stepped up. Draymond is going to have to do it, and he's got some help from one of his bruise brothers, and that will be enough to get it done.
They had a lot to do with what went on tonight, and they had a lot to do with bringing us back.

Q. Last year you guys went down to Ohio State and I kind of got a sense that there was a lot of unfinished business left. Do you have the same sense with this team this year?
COACH IZZO: Well, you know, I said all along, I don't know how good this team is. We had some deficiencies, and unfortunately we had a couple guys that just didn't have the year maybe they had last year. But at the same time, I didn't think this team was quite as good as last year. We were missing that defensive guy, and we got Chris moved into that spot, and we're missing a center a little bit.
But we have a lot of basketball we still have left to play. We've got a good team. It's not a great team yet, but there's a lot of good teams out there. There's a lot of teams that aren't great right now. I told my team the same thing, and I don't think they repeated it.
It's been a little bit of a tough year in a lot of ways, but we won a lot of games, and we've played pretty dog gone well when you look at the big picture, who we scheduled, what we've done. But I like most of you do not feel we've reached our ceiling, and yet I don't know -- sometimes you have those years where you never reach it. I like the challenge ahead of us right now, because I want to really mix it up a little bit, and we're going to have some fun with the three of us, and we're going to go from there.

Q. At what point will you decide if Chris Allen will play the next game, and are there certain factors that will go into that decision?
COACH IZZO: Yeah, it's strictly mine, and unfortunately the public will probably be the last to know, no insult intended. But I'd just like to say that I appreciate a lot of my media, but the landscape has changed for you guys, and the landscape has changed for me. I understand yours, and I hope you understand mine. I never close anything off, I never do anything like that, but when we're to the point where we're dismissing a guy from practice or suspending a guy and we're going to get information from parents and AAU coach and all that and high school coach and all this, then the rules change a little bit. If it's between me, the kid, and you, it's open-door policy all the way. So I will make that decision probably with some guys on my team maybe, maybe with my assistants, and we'll move on.
This is about fixing the program, not worrying about an individual player. It's making sure that we have the leadership you talked about that we don't have and that we have guys that feel like we owe the senior, and that's what I'm looking for. You all know I haven't found it yet, but I'm still battling. I'm going to probably find it before I'm done.

Q. The boys earlier talked about improving on mistakes from tonight. What specifically do you see in the team that needs to improve to reach that ceiling you talked about?
COACH IZZO: Well, you know, I mean, defensively we were just not very good early, and then I thought we were selfish offensively. We got charges and running into guys and doing things that were open guys I thought in various spots, and that's why we've got to make some changes.
As I said, these two guys helped me a lot at halftime, they helped me a lot after the game. I'm a big fan of player-coach teams, and in some ways we took a step in that direction tonight. With every negative, there's sometimes a positive. We're not a dog team, we're a good team that lacks some things that usually hold you back from being a great team, and I'm going to keep searching for them in the next four or five days and hopefully we get into that tournament and we take another step.
But in saying all of that, hey, we go 18-for-34 from the line or whatever we went, and Joseph hit two just monster shots, you asked a question about the high to low game, I thought they did a great job, and we adjusted. We weren't quite -- they're bigger than us, and so we didn't do a good job wanting to put more pressure on the ball. We made some adjustments, took that away our last 15 minutes, and that includes Joseph's two shots were really good. If we play that way defensively and don't make those crazy turnovers -- we had lay-ups, we missed breakaway lay-ups, we had a throw-ahead to a guy for a lay-up. That was too bad. But all in all, our loss is hopefully Minnesota's gain, and hopefully the Big Ten's.
As usual, the country kind of slaughters the Big Ten it seems like. There's five or six teams -- I think there's six teams now that deserve to be in, and I'm going to blow my horn for them, not for us. Whatever seed we get, we get, but I'd sure like to see Minnesota and Illinois in because I think they deserve to be in because our league was tough this year, and I'll close on that note.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.

End of FastScripts

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